It is common for businesses to work with a managed services provider (MSP) that can handle elements of their IT requirements. According to CompTIA, roughly two-thirds of U.S. organizations use some form of managed service because it is such an efficient way to deal with increasingly complex technology requirements.

Finding a provider that’s a good fit for your organization can be a tricky process, however. The evaluation process can be challenging, even for the most tech-savvy businesses.

The right provider will obviously have the right mix of resources, skills and processes. Pricing, contract structure and service levels are other essential selection criteria. Strong relationships with leading vendors, a broad portfolio of proven solutions and experience with innovative technologies are also important.

However, trust may be the single most important measure of a good managed services arrangement. Unless you’re only looking for the most basic break-fix services and commodity IT equipment, you need a dependable partner who understands your business, provides credible advice and can demonstrate they will always work in your best interest.

Of course, trust in any business relationship is built over time — it won’t be established during the evaluation process. But there are indicators that will give you a good sense of whether a potential provider will make a good long-term partner.

One of the first things to evaluate is whether your potential provider is genuinely interested in your business or if they are just looking to make a sale. Look for an MSP that doesn’t just talk about technology, methodologies and metrics. Those are important factors, but you need a provider who can describe how their services will drive desired business outcomes and help your company reach its goals.

You’ll obviously have a lot of questions for potential providers about costs, support parameters, help-desk services and much more. However, a provider that is truly interested in developing a solid partnership should also have a lot of questions for you. They will want to know about your tactical and strategic business goals, the current state of your IT organization, the issues and challenges you are eager to address, and who are the key stakeholders likely to be most affected by IT projects and changes.

Authenticity and credibility are important. Look for an MSP with financial stability, a solid track record of client retention and a good reputation among both customers and vendors. Ask potential providers to provide customer references, success metrics and other evidence of their performance history.

Business needs and budget may drive many other selection criteria. A trusted provider should be able to guide you through all the possibilities, and help you define a strategy that addresses both your immediate needs and your long-term goals.

A long-term relationship with an MSP produces a number of tangible benefits, including high levels of IT stability and predictability with processes that are repeatable and highly consistent. A trusted MSP can also help drive business growth with projects designed to increase productivity, improve workflows and grow revenue.

Give us a call if you’re wondering how a managed services arrangement might improve your IT operations and enhance your business. We’d welcome the opportunity to earn your business — and your trust.