Partnering with a managed services provider is a big step for any business especially when it comes to small businesses who lack internal IT expertise. However, the good news is that there are many MSPs to choose from. But, do they all offer the same thing? Well, not quite, each MSP offers a wide variety of services and while it may sound similar, the end result is not always ideal. Selecting an MSP does not have to be a daunting feat though, as long as you take into consideration some key factors, take your time and you ask the right questions beforehand..
The first consideration to take into account when selecting an MSP is going local vs going with a more renowned company that might be in a different state. The wiser choice is to go local or close enough for physical visits to be able to take place. While the majority of the work will be done remotely it is important to have the MSP readily available should a physical job be required. Additionally, an initial inspection of the infrastructure can also help identify key areas of opportunity that a remote MSP will not have access to. An MSP within Boston would be the best option to make sure on-site visits are possible. With a local MSP in mind the next step comes into play, ask yourself if the MSP understands your business.
Not only that, but it is crucial that they have knowledge about the industry they will be managing, do they specialize in any verticals? Do they have any case studies or testimonials of clients in said verticals? All of these are key items to keep in mind when talking to an MSP. It is especially important because a knowledgeable MSP will know what systems work best with a particular scenario as opposed to an MSP offering the same solutions to every customer.
Security and Coverage
Service level agreements (SLA) are a crucial part of partnering with an MSP. It is through this agreement that the foundation of the partnership is based on. This agreement should include but not be limited to provisions about security, coverage, and guaranteed uptime. Procedures for data backup and disaster recovery, cybersecurity, and physical security should be outlined in the agreement as well. This will ensure that all critical requirements are met and that both parties are aware of what is expected.
Flexibility as you Grow
Another key consideration is how well the MSP is at adapting to new work environments that include office and home networks. As your business grows you want to make sure the MSP can keep up and avoid it from becoming a bottleneck. If an IT manager is hired later, will the MSP adopt a co-managed infrastructure? As the business grows and the amount of devices, managing the network will become more challenging will the MSP keep up? It may not seem like these questions are relevant in the present, but as things change in your business, it’s better to have an IT partner who is agile.
An in-house IT department for the typical SMB will only work regular business hours and if a problem arises after 5pm, it will typically take until the next business day to be resolved. Therefore, an important consideration to make when choosing an MSP is to evaluate if their support hours align with the business’s support needs. Combine this with remote monitoring and maintenance (RMM) and rest assured that several pairs of eyes are always monitoring and scanning the company’s network and security. Not only for security purposes, but for end-user support since your people may be working during odd hours at home.
Deciding to partner with an MSP and choosing the right MSP is no easy task and one that should not be taken lightly. It is important to browse more than one option, ask a lot of questions, and take the time to evaluate all the options. Take into consideration the key areas mentioned above and remember the MSP’s service not only shapes the future relationship but also directly contributes to the organization’s success.