Many in-house IT teams are struggling to keep up with day-to-day administration and management tasks. The IT environment has become increasingly complex, encompassing a broad range of on-premises and cloud-based platforms. Growing numbers of users are accessing these systems with an array of mobile devices. An ever-increasing volume of data must be stored, protected and backed up. Organizations are under constant attack by a never-ending barrage of security threats.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that more and more organizations are partnering with managed services providers (MSPs). MSPs monitor the customer’s IT environment and proactively handle many routine maintenance tasks. For a predictable monthly budget, MSPs can help customers increase efficiency by ensuring that systems are performing optimally and problems are resolved quickly. They also relieve some of the burden on in-house IT staff so that they can devote more time to strategic business initiatives.
Of course, not all MSPs are created equal. Because the model is popular, many companies offer managed services. They run the gamut in terms of size, capabilities and technology investments. Many will present you with a list of the services they provide, and quote you a price. However, choosing the right MSP isn’t as simple as comparing those checklists and going with the lowest-cost provider.
Best-in-class MSPs understand that they’re not just supporting your technology, they are supporting your business. They start by asking a lot of questions about your operations and your strategic objectives. Which processes are business-critical? What is your tolerance for risk? Are there any bottlenecks that could be eliminated through the application of technology?
After gaining an understanding of your organizations the MSP will thoroughly evaluate your IT environment. This comprehensive assessment will include an analysis of your hardware, applications, network and security tools. The MSP will note any systems that are outdated and identify potential gaps in your security posture. The goal isn’t to sell you a bunch of equipment but to ensure that your environment is robust enough to meet your needs. A good MSP will be able to explain, in business terms, why these upgrades are needed.
The MSP will also assess the resources and skill sets you have in-house. This will help determine which responsibilities should be turned over to the MSP and how your staff will report problems and interact with the MSP. It will also reassure your IT team that the MSP isn’t there to replace them but rather to enable the organization to operate more effectively.
When it comes to delivering services, highly qualified MSPs make extensive use of advanced technologies and have well-defined procedures in place. Their network operations centers (NOCs) are equipped with the latest monitoring and management tools, enabling them to handle most issues remotely. They follow industry best practices, document everything and have repeatable processes that ensure your environment is managed consistently. You gain an entire team of well-qualified engineers and aren’t dependent upon one person who knows your environment.
Finally, best-in-class MSPs establish trust. They welcome questions and requests for customer references. They understand that you need to have confidence in their expertise and the quality of their services.
When choosing an MSP, price is one of the last things you should consider. The right MSP isn’t just a technology provider but a strategic partner who can help optimize your operations and provide value that has a real and lasting impact on your organization.