5 things to consider when choosing a Managed Service Provider

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If you’re thinking about hiring a new Managed Service Provider — maybe your business is growing, and your internal IT person can no longer manage everything on their own or maybe you’re not happy with the responsiveness of your current provider—it can seem like a daunting project. 

To get started, there are several questions you’ll want to answer: How can you evaluate which MSP will best serve your business? What will it cost? How long will it take? Will your new MSP be able to meet all your IT and security needs? What does “good” look like? 

Thankfully, you don’t need to tackle this massive project on your own. The team at SUCCESS is steeped in best practices for onboarding new clients, regardless of where you’re at in your IT-management journey. 

“SUCCESS focuses on the customer need during our initial engagement, whether you’re coming from a managed service provider, looking to supplement internal IT, or if you’ve never worked with another MSP before,” says SUCCESS Field Services Manager Teri Schneider. 

Here, some of the team members from SUCCESS outline a few of the other things you should consider as you evaluate a potential new MSP. 

1. Security must be a key focus 

“For us, every engagement, especially on the support side, has to have security in mind,” says Vice President of Technical Operations Jamie Wolbeck. “We have to be a part of the security engagement constantly, as everything we’re doing is in some way related to security, especially around technology. Security planning is how we stay proactive and how we stay up to date on what our clients’ business objectives are, so we can drive towards that goal.” 

Ask your current managed service provider if they handle security in-house or out-source security management. Having an integrated security program can greatly enhance your MSP’s insight into any issues down the road. 

2. Information gathering is a critical step to success—start with your user base 

If you’re not in a role that has regular interactions with your business’s IT functions, start by gathering feedback from your organization’s heaviest IT users. 

“Get feedback from your user base on what’s working and what’s not, because you may not know some of the support details from another MSP if you’re not in the day to day,” Schneider says. 

SUCCESS works heavily from its clients’ technology plans, and if your current MSP is light on the documentation, prepare for it to take some time to gather all the information necessary to develop a thorough, holistic technology plan. This will serve as the framework for assessing the current state of your IT needs and establish plans for new services and equipment. 

While it might seem like a lot of work initially, laying the groundwork can smooth the MSP transition and onboarding. 

“We’ve chosen as an organization to focus on the customer intimacy piece. Almost every other MSP has selected to become an efficiency-based model,” explains Wolbeck. 

While these initial assessments and intakes might take some time, it will benefit your business in the long run and make it easier to address your IT needs proactively, rather than reactively. 

3. Align business needs with expectations 

While this will vary from business to business and industry to industry, Wolbeck and Schneider say that one of the most common reasons they see clients seeking out a new MSP is that they’re unhappy with their current provider’s level of responsiveness. 

“You don’t want to wind up back in the same spot you started where you’re hitting these pain points, everything is reactive, and you’re surprised all the time,” Wolbeck says. 

Carefully consider what it would take to get your organization to a place where your IT is proactive, rather than reactive. Make sure you’re evaluating potential new MSPs for their capacity to handle your IT emergencies and putting out fires, for sure, but also ask about their ability to serve as a proactive partner in developing your technology roadmap. 

4. Uncovering hidden costs 

Think about all the subscription-based software services your business uses, from web and domain hosting to marketing software. Are all those recurring costs and passwords effectively documented? 

“We aggregate all that data and give clients the true cost, by outlining all the subscriptions that they have, whether it’s us or other vendors that they’re working with, we put it in one place so they can see it,” Wolbeck says. 

This can also come into play when an intake assessment reveals security gaps. 

“We’re realigning what your budget should be for technology, and it includes security. If you have not included it in the past, that could be unexpected,” Wolbeck says. “We don’t just give you one tool, we give you a bundle. We’re covering all these different domains versus you having to worry about each one.” 

Related: What Is the Cost of Managed IT Services?  

5. It doesn’t just affect you; consider your third-party vendors, too. 

“One of the vital areas we prioritize during onboarding is third-party vendor relationships,” Schneider says. “That’s not a hot item in many cases but very key in how we support them in managing IT goals.” 

But when you think about it, your IT is involved in so much more than servers and networks; think hardware and phone systems. Making your new MSP aware of your third-party vendors can help them get a better sense of your entire technology landscape. It also puts them in a better position to integrate services in a way that’s most beneficial to your business. 

Ready to get started? Get a free assessment 

Not sure if your current MSP can offer you the responsive, holistic support you need? SUCCESS offers free network assessments to prospective clients. Visit our website and schedule yours today.