Partnering with a managed services provider is a big step for any business, especially when it comes to small businesses who may lack internal IT expertise. However, the good news is that there are many MSPs to choose from, but do they all offer the same thing? Well, not quite. Each MSP offers a wide variety of services and while it may sound similar, the end result is not always ideal. Selecting an MSP does not have to be a daunting task, as long as you take into consideration some key factors, take your time, and you ask the right questions beforehand.
The first consideration to take into account when selecting an MSP is going local vs going with a more renowned company that might be in a different state. The wiser choice is to go local or close enough for the possibility of onsite visits. While the majority of the work will be done remotely, it is important to have the MSP readily available should a physical job be required. Additionally, an initial inspection of the infrastructure can also help identify key areas of opportunity that a remote MSP will not have access to. An MSP in Eugene or near the city would be the best option to make sure onsite visits are possible. With a local MSP in mind, the next step comes into play’ ask yourself if the MSP understands your business.
It is crucial that your MSP has knowledge about the industry you are in. Do they specialize in any verticals? Do they have any case studies or testimonials of clients in those verticals? All of these are key items to keep in mind when talking to an MSP. It is especially important because a knowledgeable MSP will know what systems work best within a particular scenario, as opposed to an MSP offering the same solutions to every customer.
Service level agreements (SLA) are a crucial part of partnering with an MSP. An SLA makes up part of the foundation for the partnership. This agreement should include, but not be limited to, provisions about security, coverage, and guaranteed uptime. Procedures for data backup and disaster recovery, cybersecurity, and physical security should be outlined in the agreement, as well. This will ensure that all critical requirements are met and that both parties understand the expectations.
Another key consideration is how well the MSP is at adapting to new work environments that include office and home networks. As your business grows, you want to make sure the MSP can keep up and avoid it from becoming a bottleneck. If an IT manager is hired later, will the MSP adopt a co-managed infrastructure? As the business grows and the number of devices increases, managing the network will become more challenging–will the MSP keep up? It may not seem like these questions are relevant right now, but as things change in your business, it’s better to have an IT partner who is agile enough to stay on track with you.
An in-house IT department for the typical SMB will only work regular business hours. That means if a problem arises after 5pm, it will typically take until the next business day to be resolved. This makes afterhours availability an important consideration when choosing an MSP. This will ensure that eyes are always monitoring and scanning the company’s network and security, not only for security purposes, but for end-user support, since your team may be working afterhours.
Deciding to partner with an MSP and choosing the right MSP is no easy task and one that should not be taken lightly. It is important to browse more than one option, ask a lot of questions, and take the time to evaluate all the options. Take into consideration the key areas mentioned above and remember the MSP’s service not only shapes the future relationship, but also directly contributes to your organization’s success.
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