What to look for in a MSP

So, you want to hire a MSP.
So, you want to hire a MSP. Great choice! Partnering with a Managed Services Provider should provide a measurable return on your investment and make IT operations invisible to the business. How? By finally giving you a chance to manage the technology lifecycle and address process gaps and other roadblocks. Like we said, great choice!

Ok, now the hard part: where to start?

With so many players in the arena, finding the right MSP to partner with can be a daunting task – at first. We’ve got a few suggestions to help you narrow your search and find a partner who can help you out immediately, and stick around for the long haul. Here’s what to look for.

1. Technology focus & competency
Once you’ve determined which components of your business to outsource, it’s important to identify MSPs with core competencies that align with your requirements.  Don’t be dazzled by the famous technology acronyms: MSP, MSSP, IAAS, HAAS, SAAS, NOC, SOC, etc. Regardless of which grouping of letters a technology provider gives themselves, it takes a deep-dive into their tools, systems, processes and resources to really figure out if their technology stack has the solutions you’re looking for.

2. A solid track record
From every angle, partnering with an untested MSP should be a non-starter. The whole reason for working with a Managed Services Provider is to find someone who has the know-how and skillset to help your company perform at its best. Instead, find a vendor with a healthy volume of success in helping companies just like yours and a healthy financial track record to match. (The last thing you want is your MSP going out of business and taking your IT strategy down with it.) The proof is in the pudding, so understand what they do, who they do it for, and talk to their clients.

3. Staff that know what they’re doing
We know this sounds obvious, but trust us, you’d be surprised. When evaluating an MSP, ask about their own internal training programs. Do they provide education and certification for their staff? Are they keeping up with, and getting certified on, the latest technology? Do they have the chops to apply best practices through the entire IT lifecycle? Keep in mind that certifications are in no way a replacement for experience. Ask about team members and their tenure.  Are they employees with a vested interest in the success of their company, and that of their customers? Does the company hire subcontractors and/or offshore resources?  If you don’t like what you hear, move on.

4. The ability to innovate
With technology changing as rapidly as it does, this is key. You need to ensure the MSP you choose is well-versed in both reactive, and proactive problem solving. Your MSP should be skilled enough to innovate solutions in the present and have the foresight to implement technologies to help you thrive in the future. That said, innovation shouldn’t be restricted to technology only, it should also be evident in the way they deliver their services (i.e. faster, better).  Here again, expertise comes into play.

5. Well-established processes
It goes without saying: keeping on top of day-to-day IT operations while maintaining your core business is chaotic. The last thing you need in an MSP is a partner that’s also trying to figure things out on-the-fly. Rather, look for a provider with well-established procedures for everything from staying on top of security issues, to managing and controlling change.

6. Contract terms you can live with
As alluded to earlier, when you’re looking for an MSP, you want a partner who will be there to support you through thick and thin – almost like a marriage. Subsequently, you want to make sure any contract you sign offers the flexibility to scale and adapt to your ever-changing business needs.  Above all else, find a provider with fixed fees as opposed to pay-as-you- go. A fixed fee structure gives them great incentive to get your IT right the first time and keep everything running smoothly.

And there you have it.
A simple checklist to help initiate your search for the Managed IT Services Provider of your dreams. We hope you find everything your business needs, and wish you all the best for the future.