If you’ve already put ‘MSPs in my area’ into Google, it might seem that the web is teeming with Managed Service Providers that would be perfect for your business, particularly those who appear high on the page via advertisements.
However, not every MSP will be good for your company – you need to ensure that whoever you choose to work with is the best possible fit for your business IT provider needs. That isn’t an easy task, and neither is building a solid relationship once you’ve found a good match – which is why we’re here to give you some tips on what to look for in an MSP, and how to establish a positive relationship with them going forward.
Hiring the Right Provider For Your Work Community
While IT teams aren’t exactly known for their dramatic interpersonal relationships, it’s still important to ensure that any provider you bring in will mesh well with your existing team, avoiding issues like a disagreement over how tasks should be completed or a misunderstanding about the chain of command.
Therefore, you’ll need to make sure that the MSP you choose is happy and willing to work alongside and in conjunction with any other IT staff you already have, and fully aware of what team is in charge of what responsibilities. While there are benefits and drawbacks to both keeping a project in-house and outsourcing it elsewhere, it’s no doubt beneficial to both teams to know who’s doing what and how they’re doing it.
Crafting a Thorough SLA
The SLA (Service Level Agreement) is the cornerstone of any working relationship you’ll have with an MSP – detailing every single one of your IT needs, you need to ensure that both parties are satisfied with what they’re giving and receiving.
Though you might find that a pre-made package is a good place to start negotiations, you don’t want to agree to one without at least looking into any bespoke alterations – make sure that whatever you decide on suits you and your business!
There’s no such thing as a single perfect SLA as every business is unique, which is why you need to have thorough conversations with your MSP and ensure that you’re mutually benefitting from the agreed-upon services being provided. If you’re coming up against companies who simply will not consider altering their offering to suit your needs – now’s the right time to walk away and find one that will.
Ensuring You’ll Receive Constant Support
How would you feel if you go into work on a groggy Monday morning, only to discover that your systems have been down since you went home last Friday night? It’s certainly not something any business owner would like to experience, and it’s a situation that an MSP can entirely prevent.
Many MSPs can provide system monitoring applications that will allow staff to keep an eye on your systems 24/7, informing you when problems have been found and fixed. On the other hand, some MSPs leave it to you to discover the issue and call them yourself. Most businesses would probably prefer the former setup, not least because of the terrifying potential losses of downtime.
Not every business requires this level of support, but if your company relies heavily on your IT systems to keep going, then finding an MSP with 24/7 maintenance would definitely be worth your while.
Finding A Provider Who Can Grow with You
You might not be considering any kind of major business growth in the next few months, but it’s of vital importance that any MSP you work with can keep up with your ambitions as they emerge in the future.
You may be wondering why that is – after all, doesn’t an MSP just manage your IT systems?
The reality is that any MSP you work with will quickly become integral to your day-to-day operations, from designing your system to finding and fixing errors, and will also be present for some significant meetings along the way. Basically, it isn’t a relationship that you can end with a quick, clean break, and you don’t want to be dragged behind by an MSP who doesn’t share your ambition.
To plan for this, you should talk to your potential provider about their plans to grow their own business, before comparing them with your own ideas to see whether your growth rate would be compatible. You might also want to present them with some hypothetical scenarios – what they would do if you were to land a multi-million dollar contract, for instance – and gauge your compatibility based on their answer.
Every single international business existing today had to start from somewhere, and there’s no doubt that making it today involves a heavy reliance on IT. If they aren’t willing to grow with you, then you should look for an MSP that’s up for bolstering you through big changes with excellent support.
Knowing That Your Provider Has Experience
A potential provider might have worked with a huge number of companies over the years, but experience specifically with a business similar to your own is the most valuable kind. While they’re unlikely to have worked with a company of the same size as yours in the same industry and at the same level of development, the experience of working with a business with just one of these areas in common with your own is vital.
This will mean that they’ll have some level of understanding of where your business is and how you plan on moving forward, even if they don’t yet know the nuances of your company specifically. One way that you can find out whether they have this experience is to ask the MSP for testimonials from companies similar to your own, or even for contact details so that you can speak to them yourself.
Even if you end up speaking to just one company similar to yours, this should give you an idea of how your relationship with the potential MSP will develop.