Big or small, it’s today’s rare business that doesn’t depend on technology to drive its operations. Many organizations lack the internal resources needed to support their cloud services, data centers, and more. Some have no internal IT department at all. If protecting and getting the most out of your company’s digital network has become more complex and costly, an IT service provider can be an invaluable partner in filling that void.
From software updates to cybersecurity and risk management, the right IT service provider can help increase productivity, improve end-user experiences, free up internal resources, and generally lighten your organization’s workload. But what does the “right” provider look like, and how do you go about choosing the one that’s right for you?
If you’re ready to invest in a managed service provider (MSP), here are our top tips for choosing one that brings value to your business and helps it grow to the next level.
Look For an IT Service Provider Familiar with Your Industry
Look for a service provider that’s proven and knowledgeable. Ideally, they should know your industry, as your business may deal with issues that require advanced knowledge and experience. And while you can’t expect an IT service provider to know all your company’s finer details, they should fully understand your area of operations.
Your MSP is a business partner who will be fully responsible for managing your company’s IT services. They should have a vested interest in knowing your organization inside and out to fully understand its technology needs. Of course, some needs like cybersecurity, email, and communications exist regardless of industry. But having an MSP with experience in your specific niche provides an additional layer of value to the partnership.
Do Your Homework
Before you zero in on an MSP, conduct some internal and external research to discover:
- What is it you need from them? Do you want to add on or remove existing infrastructure? Do you want to switch to a cloud-based system? Are you investing more into remote work and need support for the transition?
- The company’s reputation. Online testimonials, referrals, and Google searches are all good sources of information. If you have an in-house IT team, ask them to evaluate the pros and cons of each provider you’re considering.
- Who their current customers are. An MSP should be happy to share companies they currently work with. Ask if those companies are willing to talk to you about their experience.
Finally, When choosing your MSP, resist the urge to bargain shop. Proven expertise should always outweigh low prices.
Will the Provider Be There When You Need Them Most?
Good customer service is vital to a successful IT provider relationship. When doing your research on the companies you’re considering, ask if the MSP:
- Takes a proactive approach to avoiding potential disasters. No matter how sophisticated they may be, systems go down and you need to know your critical data is secure. Round-the-clock monitoring helps avoid having minor issues turn into larger, expensive problems.
- Invests in the latest tools and technologies needed to keep your network safe.
- Uses industry best practices and keeps current on security trends, particularly those for your industry. What tools does the provider use to protect your communications systems from cyberattacks?
From a practical point of view, “being there” can also be about things like where the MSP’s servers are located. This can be particularly important if the provider will be handling services such as cloud hosting or VoIP, as it can affect the services’ quality.
IT Service Provider vs. In-House Approach
There are significant advantages to working with an MSP over hiring an in-house technician:
- 24/7 network monitory and remote support.
- Calculable monthly costs that are often much less than the salary of a single in-house IT specialist.
- You benefit from the collective wisdom of a dedicated team of engineers who have access to the latest enterprise management software, security solutions, and management servers. They also tend to have broader skillsets because they work with a wide variety of clients. This makes them better equipped to solve complex and unusual issues an in-house specialist cannot.
- A legally binding service level agreement (SLA) assures you the MSP will deliver consistent quality of service.
- The ability to scale up or down according to your business’s needs.
An IT service provider can eliminate the headaches that often come with getting digitally ready. They secure essential data, are there for you when data recovery is needed, and continuously protect your network from external security threats. Whether your organization is looking to minimize costs, boost earnings, streamline processes, or all of the above, partnering with an MSP can be one of the wisest investments it makes.