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8 things to consider when choosing an IT Managed Service Provider

Posted on Monday, October 29, 2018 and filed under

There are many services today that offer to plan and remotely manage and maintain the computer networks of SMBs. But choosing the best IT managed service provider (MSP) often involves a process of trial and error with many contractors for a company to find the right fit.

So, if you’re searching to build a new relationship or engage an MSP for the first time, here are eight important things to consider that will help you find the right fit for your business:

1)     Does the MSP use a proactive approach?

There is a difference between a service that works to prevent problems and improve systemsversus an ad-hoc approach that involves fixing things when they’re broken.

Ask the service provider about their approach to problem prevention and continuous improvement. Do they:

  • Offer automation across managed services?
  • Monitor 24/7?
  • Offer automation to reduce human intervention and improve quality and productivity?

2)     Does the MSP have deep skills and experience?

Selecting an MSP with varied and specialized skill sets means the right skills and experience can be applied to the best solutions for your business needs. Ask about:

  •  managing change
  • virtualization
  • middleware and databases
  • multiple network technologies
  • cross-platform integration
  • mobility
  • security
  • cloud technologies

3)     Does the MSP use consistent processes, knowledge management, and consolidated service visibility?

Consistent services depend on consistent processes. Likewise, a knowledge management system enables any representative of the MSP to easily access your company’s service history. As well, you should have visibility into the health of your network. Ask:

  • To see documentation of processes so that you can verify consistent methodologies
  • How staff will access your company’s service history
  • How the company will report to you about every aspect of your service agreement. Is it easy for you to understand?

4)     Does the MSP support multi-vendor, multi-cloud environments?

Today’s IT environment has a different definition for every business. Select an MSP that is able to help you source, buy, manage and operate a hybrid mix of new and old environments to ensure you have flexibility as your business changes and its needs fluctuate. As well, an MSP that is impartial when it comes to selecting external providers is likely to make the best choice for your specific needs.

5)     Can your MSP offer service globally?

If your business plans to expand or offer services internationally, it’s important to select an MSP that can support you through this process. Ask about:

  • The experience an MSP has in delivering international service
  • International knowledge of regulatory and legal requirements

6)     Are Service Level Agreements (SLAs) designed with your needs in mind?

Businesses measure a job well done based on performance. One of the advantages of engaging an MSP is that this is the contractor’s responsibility. Your SLA should be performance-based and not lock you in if your needs aren’t being met.

7)     Does your MSP have a broad portfolio?

Hyper-specialized MSPs have the potential to create service-provider silos within your IT environment. Instead, engaging with a single, broadly skilled organization that offers a number of specialized services gives you a single point of contact, which reduces complexity. As well, broad skills can be applied to creating specialized solutions for your business.

8)     Is the company financially stable and do others have good experiences?

Check out reviews and do your due diligence while researching MSPs. Look to see how the MSP responds to reviews and comments online. Are they helpful, friendly, and do they take a problem-resolution approach when criticized publicly?

Choosing the right IT MSP can positively impact the stability, scalability, resilience and success of your business.

For more information from a qualified Ottawa IT MSP, visit www.neolore.com

For an in-depth look at evaluating IT service providers, see this report from IBM.

Author Jim Stackhouse is the founder and president of NeoLore Networks Inc., an Ottawa-based technology services company that designs, implements, manages and maintains computer networks for small and medium sized businesses.