Managed Service Providers: What to Look for in a Partnership
The managed service provider market has grown significantly in a very short space of time, but what do you need in an MSP partner?
Organizations are more frequently looking towards managed services partnerships to meet their IT needs.
The reason for this huge expansion worldwide is simply down to an enormous increase in demand for outsourced IT services.
75% of SMBs outsource at least some of their IT to an MSP partner
Managed services are providing SMBs in particular an attractive alternative to the more traditional in-house IT department businesses have grown accustomed to.
The reason for this is simple economics. Simply put, it’s significantly less expensive to hire an MSP partner than it is to hire an entire internal IT team.
- Flexible service models
- Expert consultation and insight
- Access to a large team of IT professionals
- Predictable expenditures
- Network monitoring
Using managed IT services is a vital component of SMBs today.
Many organizations don’t have the resources to hire a team of equivalent capability to a managed service provider offering.
At Impact Networking, for example, we offer 24/7 support and more than 150 team members to your outsourced IT. Many MSPs will offer similar round-the-clock support for their clients.
What Services Should You Expect From an MSP?
It can be difficult for executives who are unfamiliar with the managed IT model to have a firm understanding of what exactly they should require and expect from an MSP partner.
There are a number of services which are a must when hiring managed IT, including:
On-site technical support and installation
Engineers are certified subject-matter experts who act as a second-level response when a business needs maintenance or repairs.
They are responsible for planning and installing IT projects on-site and making check-up visits at your convenience to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Remote monitoring and troubleshooting
Support teams which are capable of proactively monitoring the business’ network functions.
If a client is experiencing an issue and needs an immediate resolution, a help desk should be on-hand or an engineer available to remotely troubleshoot a problem—often without intervention from the client.
This support should be expected to be offered as a 24/7 service.
Basic security measures
Managed service providers will typically offer a basic security baseline that can help an organization have better cybersecurity.
This is usually in the form of deploying the latest security patches, implementing solutions that are confirmed as stable, and ensuring that newly installed hardware is covered by warranty should it be attacked.
MSPs differ from MSSPs, which exclusively focus on advanced cybersecurity programs for business protection.
Related Infographic: MSP vs. MSSP – The Key Differences
If you’re concerned about your cybersecurity, it’s absolutely worth consulting with a managed security service provider to learn your options for comprehensive protection.
Extensive support for cloud-based operations
In 2019, public cloud service revenue was $182 billion—this year it will be worth $250 billion.
Executives are placing more confidence and seeing the benefits in cloud services and they are rapidly becoming centerpieces for many small and midsize organizations.
89% of companies expect to grow or maintain their IT budgets this year
They are more secure than ever and provide flexible ways for hosting company data and licensing software.
Your MSP partner should be able to show extensive partnerships with leading providers of cloud services.
Up-time guarantee of 99.9%
Whether you want to operate on a private cloud or a public cloud, you need to be assured that your cloud functions remain up-and-running at as close to 100% as possible.
Organization downtime, whether because of a cyberattack or any other reason, isn’t cheap.
Being able to guarantee an acceptable uptime percentage year-round is vital for an MSP offering.
SMBs are spending nearly 1/10th of their IT budgets on server technology. An MSP will help you achieve your upgrades by guiding your strategy
For most midsize businesses, they should be looking to incorporate data centers that are at least Tier 3, even better if it’s Tier 4.
Related Post: Why You Need a Tier IV Data Center
What Qualities Should You Look for From an MSP?
Make sure the MSP is committed to your project
No aspect of digital transformation is easy or quick.
Roadmaps for transformation are usually implemented and maintained over the course of at least 18 months and require extensive collaboration between the MSP and the client.
The MSP partner you choose for your business will ideally see and position themselves as an essential part of your core IT team.
Your managed service provider will not just be responsible for installing, maintaining, and supporting your network, but also for providing and implementing an actionable plan for realizing your IT objectives
Webinar: Why Partner With an MSP for IT?
This means having strong communication between both parties.
The MSP should be willing to consult with you regularly, using their expertise to give you a complete understanding of how your partnership is helping you meet your goals.
They can also give you insights on new technology and ideas to improve the scope and scale of your digital transformation.
Certification, accreditation, and reputation
The standing of the MSP partner you want to partner with should play a major role in your decision.
Of course, when you’re looking on the company website, they will show themselves in the best possible light.
Ask your prospective partner for case studies of their work, or their Net Promoter Score (NPS) to determine their success with dealing with previous clients.
Check to see if they have certifications and accreditations for the solutions they provide to their clients so you know you have the right people with the right expertise propelling your services.
Have a cost structure that suits you
One of the primary reasons SMB decision makers look to partner with MSPs is a more understandable and predictable cost structure.
For businesses more familiar with the break/fix model of IT support, they’ll know that it’s difficult to budget for an unknown quantity.
Most MSPs will offer their program on a monthly fee basis.
Be sure to understand exactly what is included in the agreement and what isn’t.
At Impact, we offer a fixed monthly fee, so clients know precisely what the costs are and aren’t surprised by any hidden additional costs.
It’s a good idea when looking for a partner to understand the cost structure.
After all, there’s no point moving on from the break/fix model only to find out your MSP operates the same old model under the hood.
With networks becoming increasingly complex and the protection of data more important than ever, flaws in the break/fix model are more apparent
The beginnings of a partnership with a managed service provider needs to handled with careful consideration.
Businesses should be able to call upon a reliable timeline for the onboarding portion of your partnership.
A good MSP partner should outline a roadmap for the implementation phase, but each one will have a different approach.
An onboarding process which isn’t communicated effectively can mean a more laborious and tedious exercise than necessary.
It is a critical time in which the groundwork for your future relationship is laid.
A negative experience out the gates will have lasting effects.
The MSP should have a clear set of objectives and a means of tracking progress from which the MSP can be held accountable.
Staff should be involved from day one and the MSP should have effective communication channels for ensuring that the process is going smoothly.
Flexibility and scalability
The landscape of digital transformation has been and will continue to change rapidly as new technologies emerge.
Whether it’s low-code or automation, there’s always another piece of advanced tech that’s making waves for SMBs.
Because of this, MSPs are far more valuable if they can provide complete flexibility and scalability to their clients.
For example, if an evolving business needs to upscale its public cloud use, the MSP should be able to accommodate their request accordingly.
A staggering 71% of businesses have orphaned subscriptions, each having three on average. If you have orphaned solutions, then you’re effectively carrying dead weight in your organization. This is usually the result of unmanaged digital solutions getting out of hand
Be wary of MSPs that lock their clients into contracts which aren’t scalable.
A good provider should be able to offer services which can be customized to changing business objectives—hence, “managed services”.
In light of recent events, many organizations have found themselves playing catchup, trying to implement makeshift cloud solutions to make up lost ground while their workforces see drastic transformations.
To find out more about how the cloud can ensure your business’ IT infrastructure is in good shape for the future, download our eBook, “Does Your Business Need a Managed IT Service Provider?”