The Key to Selecting a Managed Services Partner

By: Bryan Luce, MSP Operations Manager
I’m often asked by companies I talk to, what are the key things that I need to look for when selecting an MSP? It’s not always a simple answer, but you can boil it down to three key areas.
Selecting a Managed Services Provider (MSP) is key to maturing your IT department and providing essential value to your business – but choosing the right one can be difficult. An MSP must offer workable Service Level Agreements (SLAs), perform consistently and reliably, and provide great customer service.  Beyond these basic requirements, though, are several other considerations that you should take into account when selecting an MSP partner.

Broad and customizable service offerings

An MSP partner should have a wide variety of service offerings that support your business objectives.  Each of these service offerings should promote a tightly integrated approach to IT solution design, implementation, and management. This includes everything from data center moves, network refreshes, and virtualization redesigns to enterprise application upgrades in the cloud.  If a company has the skillset necessary to design and implement the technology, they will also be able to support the toughest challenges related to managing that environment.

An MSP partner should be able to scale up to a high quantity of similar device types and scale out with any new device types that your business needs.  This includes cloud services, hosted VMs, and applications.

Service scope and levels should be resizable.  Every business and IT organization is different. The skillset and availability of your staff also varies year by year.  An MSP partner should be able to adjust its scope in-house or outsource depending on your internal team’s service gaps.  You should be able to resize the scope of the agreement, as needed, to optimize the value your MSP partner brings to your organization.

Enable your IT department to work closer to the business

An MSP partner should perform as if it is an extension of your IT department.  It should take on routine, time-consuming work, freeing your team to work closer to the business on projects and initiatives that will create more value for your stakeholders and customers.

In addition, an MSP partner should be able to scale dynamically to handle a high quantity of work at any given point in time. This will alleviate any major waves of support concerns without causing a large backlog of end-user support issues.

An MSP partner should reduce the need to hire additional staff.  Outsource the areas of IT service management that your IT department is not interested in building out or supporting in house.  The right MSP will have developed services, processes, tools, and scripts to meet your needs.  Even when you have staff turnover, you will be able to consistently receive the same service levels from your MSP without having to recruit and retrain staff.

Business is personal – partner with people you can trust

Business and IT service management is personal.  Work with partners that make you feel confident. Their service management methodologies, proven processes, and recommended best practices should all align with your business objectives.  Your MSP partner should be someone you can trust to get down in the trenches with your team to help resolve a challenging incident or problem.

To cultivate this trust, get to know the people who will provide your subscribed services.  Tour their company headquarters and ask to get to know their executive and management teams. Request references to validate their perceived value.  Ask those references how the MSP performed under pressure or during a challenging incident to gain insight on future service performance.

Conclusion

The only constant is change.  Partners need to evolve and adapt with your business.  They have to instill the personalized trust you can confide in while providing valuable service today, as well as into the future.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Bernard Clyde

    I like your tip to find an IT managed service provider that can work more as an extension of your IT department. It’s important that the provider feels this connection to your business so that they can get a more in depth idea of how your business works with it’s customers. This can help them be a bigger asset in creating good impressions with your customers, I think.

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