This blog article from Celerity discusses what you need to think about when selecting a managed services provider for you business.
An IT managed services provider (MSP)/managed security services provider (MSSP) can offer your organisation access to a highly skilled and dedicated IT team without it being an in-house resource. They can effectively manage your cloud demands and ensure your other crucial IT infrastructure runs smoothly.
However, you need to keep in mind that not all IT managed service providers are created equal. Opting for the right MSP or MSSP will help you grow your business, all while taking advantage of the tech resources at your disposal. Conversely, if you choose the wrong managed services provider, you could be left with reputational damage, unhappy clients, and unexplained downtime.
When selecting a reliable MSP, you are investing in your business’ stability. Here are some factors you need to keep in mind when choosing an IT MSP/MSSP for your organisation.
1. STRONG VENDOR RELATIONSHIPS
Any MSP/MSSP worth a grain of salt will have their own working relationship with business and IT vendors to provide you with the best quality of service. They need to have direct access to software and hardware solutions and vendor specialists who support them. Additionally, they should have the ability to interact with your existing vendors to get you the best pricing for those services.
2. RELEVANT ACCREDITATIONS
If you are establishing cybersecurity measures for your business, you need to ensure that the MSSP you choose has the relevant accreditations. There are two primary gold standard certifications to vet the MSSPs standards. ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus are third-party certifications that are a key indicator of the service provider’s maturity.
Working with an MSSP that holds a valid ISO 27001 accreditation will significantly minimise the risk of a data security breach. Moreover, this certification also clearly signifies that the service provider is serious about providing high-quality service and the best network security compliance.
Other certifications you can check for include ISO 14001, Cyber Essentials Plus, Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), etc.
3. HIGH-LEVEL SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
Having skills that go beyond knowing how to troubleshoot operating systems and install a hard drive is essential. To proactively maintain a complete network of computers, servers, software, devices, and peripherals, an MSP needs to have several years of experience and high-level knowledge.
Far more than just conventional break-fix where repair skill is usually enough, MSPs need to have a comprehensive understanding of business processes and best practices of the industry.
When considering a potential managed IT services provider or consultant, don’t just focus on staff size or even certifications, for that matter. Rather, ask about reactive versus proactive support methods, availability of staff with particular skills, scalability, and how best practices are followed.
You need to engage with an MSP that knows how to implement technology to enhance all aspects of your business along with the expertise to make it happen instead of one that’ll just repair problems as they occur without focusing on the larger picture.
4. ROBUST TECHNICAL SETUP
A dependable MSP needs to have a clear source for dealing with technical problems. Whether it’s outsourced tech repair or its own network operations centre (NOC), a good MSP will be able to take care of all your IT problems, from security patch updates and backend data security to helpdesk support and network monitoring. An MSP should have the ability to deliver on all these support functions with minimal effort.
5. CUSTOM IT INFRASTRUCTURE
When it comes to IT, a one size fits all approach doesn’t really work. A tech setup that works for one business won’t always work in another, and MSPs need to know that. Your tech services provider needs to take the time to develop a tailored IT infrastructure that overcomes your particular business challenges and meets your budget. For instance, if the MSP is offering 24/7 support for an additional fee and your business is only operational from 9AM to 5PM, then this offer doesn’t really suit your business model.
6. PROVEN TRACK RECORD OF ADDING VALUE
With MSPs/MSSPs, a proven track record speaks volumes about their skills and abilities. Once a deal is finalised, and a salesperson is out of the picture, you need to know that the service you have signed up for is going to be provided. When you’re selecting an MSP/MSSP, it is imperative to ask for references before you sign a contract.
You might even know another organisation they serve that will provide you with a reference point and can ask them informally about the experience they’ve had with your potential MSP.
7. FLEXIBLE SUPPORT
The best thing about outsourced IT services is that all you need to specify is the kind of cover you need, and then it is up to your MSP to make sure that the required resource is in place. For instance, you might want to consider expanding your customer support in order to provide out-of-hours coverage without increasing your in-house staff members.
Then as your business expands, you might need to deliver an even better service level, requiring extra resources available to manage customers’ calls. When you have decided on an MSP/MSSP, it is important to talk about how flexible you want them to be and how the dynamic needs of your business require support.
8. FEE STRUCTURE
One of the biggest advantages of working with an MSP is that your spending on IT is predictable and controlled. IT managed services providers who charge a flat fee for defined services benefit themselves by getting the job done right the very first time – and by preventing issues from occurring in the first place.
LAST FEW WORDS
In conclusion, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” MSP/MSSP out there and choosing the right one for your organisation isn’t always easy. Hopefully, the above-mentioned points give you the essential aspects to review and consider as you move forward in this endeavour.