Nearly three-quarters of businesses say the pandemic has accelerated their plans to move operations to a managed services model, according to Ernst & Young’s 2020 Tax and Finance Operate survey. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they plan to work with a managed services provider (MSP) in the next 24 months in order to add value, reduce risk and slash costs.
Finding the right partner is the key to gaining maximum benefits from the managed services model. Here are some of the criteria you should evaluate when assessing potential providers:
Strategic capabilities. In addition to handling basic IT functions such as maintenance, updates and security patching, MSPs should be able to provide guidance on management and strategic initiatives. Some offer a virtual CIO who can create a fully formed roadmap for adopting and using leading-edge solutions.
Track record. Longevity and stability are always important indicators of quality. Well-established firms are more likely to have a history of successful engagements to illustrate their capabilities. Referrals and testimonials from other customers provide valuable insight.
Expertise. Even if you only need standard maintenance services right now, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually need help with more complex issues. An MSP with broad expertise can facilitate growth and ensure you don’t have to shop for a new provider every time your needs change.
Infrastructure. Best-in-class MSPs have made strategic investments in enterprise-class monitoring and management tools. MSPs with their own infrastructure will be better prepared to deal with complex issues or sudden spikes in demand than those who outsource to other providers.
Service level agreements. SLAs define the level of service that will be provided, including guarantees regarding response times, network availability and other performance metrics. Instead of a generic, one-size-fits-all service plan, the provider should be willing to customize its SLA to meet your evolving business needs.
Customer focus. A good MSP should devote significant resources to assessing your business and your current IT environment. This will allow them to develop a program that prioritizes critical issues and applications, and establish key performance indicators for measuring progress.
Vendor relationships. The MSP should also serve as a liaison between customers and vendors to ensure timely resolution of issues covered by warranties or maintenance agreements. In addition, vendors often give MSPs access to enhanced support options and other services that aren’t offered directly to businesses.
Security. Best-in-class MSPs follow industry best practices when it comes to managing their own infrastructure as well as their customers’. They also ensure that the tools they use for remote management of devices are highly secure. It’s a good idea to ask specifically about security policies and procedures and whether the MSP has a plan in place for responding to data breaches or other security incidents.
Reporting capabilities. Regular reports on the IT environment provide essential insight and clarity. MSPs with advanced reporting tools can provide detailed information about factors such as backup performance, downtime, configuration errors, issue resolution, application performance, vulnerabilities, wireless activity, compliance status and much more.
Choosing the right MSP for your business is a big decision. You’re not simply looking for someone to perform a task for the lowest price. A truly effective MSP arrangement is a strategic partnership in which the provider understands your needs and goals and has the technical expertise to help you reach your objectives. Give us a call to explore how a managed services arrangement can support your immediate and long-term business requirements.