Buying Managed I.T Services 101
Deciding to purchase managed I.T services from an MSP (managed service provider), is a big decision and one that deserves careful thought and extensive research. While your business is affected by every decision made, especially technically, from which email client to use to which server you use, it’s important to collect all of the knowledge and information you can.
Within the past several years, there has been an increase in MSP’s serving businesses and supporting their growth. With this increase comes a larger variety of MSPs to choose from. Each MSP is unique and has their own culture and employee expertise to share. When you make the decision to begin looking for the right MSP to work with, there are several criteria you may want to consider making sure they are the right fit for your business.
While each business must define their goals individually related to the type of service they need from an MSP, there are some standard criteria that any business buying into managed I.T services should follow.
1. Define Your Strategy
Before doing anything else, take some time to think about your long-term business plans and how managed I.T services can fit into it to help advance your goals. Decide what you will be offering as a business, how you want to offer, and the type of clients you serve. After this, you’ll have a better idea of how managed I.T fits into your plan and where it can best serve your needs.
2. Study Up on The Little Things
For the most part, MSPs work to deliver the same end goal. But what sets them apart from one another, in the end, is the small details and minor features that they offer. When doing your research, it may help to pay more attention to the smaller details that can be easy to glance over when focusing on the larger message. Often, the gold is stuck in the mix and finding those features in one MSP may make your decision that much easier to make.
3. Make a Few Calls
Like with most things in life, it’s often helpful to get some advice from your peers in the industry about their experiences with managed I.T service and their provider. Maybe you are considering partnering with the same MSP a peer currently works with. Wouldn’t you want to have their input on their experience with the team? Even if they run their business a bit different than yours, you can learn a lot about how the MSP deals with issues and communication. Or, if you don’t have any connections with peers who have experience with managed I.T, reach out to online chat forums connecting people in your industry to learn more from their perspective about buying managed I.T. The resources are out there, so continue to research.
4. Trial Period
Managed Service Providers may talk a big game or make some bold claims. If possible, maybe you can take their service for a short test drive. See how the service and management work in your actual environment before making the bigger purchase and commitment.
Now that you’ve got the standard criteria down, it’s time to focus on the individual needs of your business. These are criteria that a potential MSP specifically needs to meet in order to fulfill the potential of your business. Like I said previously, your business is affected by every decision you make, so it’s best to carefully review the needs of your plan, employees, and clients in order to successfully implement managed I.T services.
The point of buying managed I.T is to create a better tech environment than what you currently work with. Choose an MSP with a team of skilled employees who have more to offer than your current internal IT team, or individual. You will get the most out of your money when your IT team is full of specialists and experts in their field.
Check it out: Hit or Myth: Outsourcing I.T.
With the increase in MSPs open for business, make sure to be extra selective of working with a team that has the most experience as possible. Your MSP will be a leader in many ways, so it’s important that they know what they are doing in a variety of given situations. Make sure any experience they have, is excellent experience. Your business shouldn’t have to settle for mediocre.
3. Beating Around the Bush
Do you ask a potential MSP a specific question and they either provide too general of an answer or have no answer to give at all? Huge red flag. That’s a no go. A good MSP will take a minute and then give you as specific of an answer, relevant to your question as possible. Not answering the question at all may point to a real lack of knowledge or experience in that area. Don’t be afraid to challenge them and test their knowledge, or at least test their ability to come back with the right answer and gain your trust.
4. People Approach
While you are paying good money for a quality business and technological side of an MSP, don’t overlook their approach to customer service and treating people. They may provide the best managed I.T service in town, but if their customer service skills are lacking and they show no care towards their own customers, you are missing out. Your employees are integral to your business and you want them to be well-taken care of, especially when it comes to how they manage to conduct their daily work. If your employees are unhappy with their IT team, you may very well notice a shift in the culture and success of the business. A quality MSP will work towards improving the quality of their customer’s knowledge and skills towards technology and seek to develop a good rapport with each of them.
Check it out: Why I.T Needs Customer Service
Are you in need of managed I.T in order to help your business grow? That’s a great idea, but first, make sure that the MSP you want to work with, is able to handle that kind of growth themselves. If they are a very small team, while your business is medium to large, it may make it difficult to keep up. They may not be lacking in skill or expertise, but there may be a natural lack of equipment for a business your size. It’s best to look for an MSP that is the right size and can provide for your business as they help you grow.