What to Look for When Choosing a Managed IT Service Provider

What to Look for When Choosing a Managed IT Service Provider

Mar 11, 2024 | Computer Support, Cybersecurity, Desktop Support

Understanding Managed IT Services

If you’re not living in the tech world, you might be asking yourself – “What does Managed Service Mean?

Managed IT services (called hybrid IT when combining in-house and outsourced solutions) offer a strategic approach for businesses to delegate all or part of their IT operations to a trusted partner. This may cover network, application, infrastructure, security management, data center management, and endpoint protection, customized for the specific needs of a business.

Choosing managed IT services brings many benefits, notably reducing the workload on in-house IT staff. This allows them to focus more on strategic business tasks instead of day-to-day operations. Businesses also gain access to specialized IT expertise, including cybersecurity and cloud services that may not be available internally. This can fill coverage gaps and enhance overall IT capabilities.

Consider a situation where your company might be considering moving to Microsoft 365 as your email platform. If your IT person has never done an email service migration before, it’s going to be a difficult task for them. But if you contract with a Microsoft Cloud Service Provider, they likely perform multiple email migrations every month. As you can see, your service provider can help to cover any skill gaps in your existing IT department.

Incorporating managed IT services into business operations can significantly boost efficiency and productivity. For small businesses, this means not only delegating tasks but also adopting a scalable IT solution. Managed IT services often come with service level agreements (SLAs), ensuring accountability and compliance (SLAs), offering businesses a predictable IT expense model. They also provide improved uptime management through proactive support and maintenance.

The cost savings for small businesses using managed IT services include:

  • Overall cost savings compared to in-house IT management.
  • Lower costs than employing a single salaried employee.
  • Access to a full team of IT professionals for the cost of one in-house specialist.
  • CIO-level strategic direction and implementation at a fraction of the cost of an internal CIO.
  • Highlighting the importance of reliable IT services, the average cost for an hour of downtime is about $300,000.

Source: https://www.gravityusa.com/blog/a-cost-benefit-analysis-of-managed-it-services-for-small-businesses

Managed IT services provide adaptability, flexibility, scalability, and managed backups and efficiency. They are essential for small businesses aiming to strengthen their IT infrastructure without the overhead of expanding in-house capabilities. Thus, businesses can keep pace with technological advancements and leverage IT as a strategic asset for growth and competitiveness.

Transition from Overwhelmed In-House IT to Strategic Focus with Managed IT Services

Evaluating Your IT Needs and Goals

Before diving into the sea of managed IT service providers (MSPs), small business owners should assess their current IT framework and business objectives. Understanding the gap between what you have and what you need is crucial. This understanding is essential for both short-term gains and long-term business viability and scalability.

Begin by auditing your existing IT infrastructure. Identify gaps, inefficiencies, and areas that could benefit from enhanced IT services. Consider if your current setup can handle your company’s growth or the evolving cyber threats. This encompasses evaluating your systems to ensure they align with your business goals, ensuring compliance and strategic IT planning, thus setting a baseline for improvement without necessarily involving external audits at this stage.

Next, align your IT needs with your business goals. This step goes beyond fixing immediate issues. It’s about anticipating future needs and how IT services can support your business growth. Consider how IT can help you achieve your goals, such as moving to the cloud for flexibility, improving security to protect customer data, or ensuring systems are always operational to avoid downtime. These goals should guide your choice of MSP, enabling a more tailored approach towards enhancing your IT infrastructure.

In summary, begin your evaluation by considering your current infrastructure and understanding how it supports or needs to adapt to meet your business objectives. This internal assessment helps to better define your IT requirements, focusing your search for an MSP that can offer the most relevant support for your business’s needs and growth.

Navigating the Sea of IT Solutions

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing an MSP

When selecting a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for your small business, consider several crucial factors. These factors play a key role in ensuring the MSP meets your IT needs and supports your business growth. Understanding these can greatly enhance the success and compatibility of your partnership with the MSP.

Provider Track Record and Expertise: Choose an MSP with a solid track record and deep IT management expertise, showcasing IT efficiency and a history of successful vendor risk management. Look for a provider with a history of reliability and broad knowledge relevant to your industry. This ensures they can handle complex situations and offer high-quality solutions that fit your business.

(Source: Datamation)

Customized Services for Specific Needs: Your business has unique IT requirements. Your MSP should offer customizable service packages tailored to your needs. This flexibility allows for tailored IT solutions that support and enhance your operations. If your potential MSP is willing to quote a price before performing an IT audit of their own, you might not have the right prospective partner.

Security and Reliability: Security is critical in the digital age. Choose an MSP that prioritizes security measures, including threat detection & response, and data protection and robust protections against cybersecurity threats. Common threats faced by small businesses include:

(Source: Expert Insights)

Reliability in system uptime and issue responsiveness is also vital. It minimizes disruptions to your business operations.

Flexibility and Scalability: Your IT needs will evolve as your business grows. It’s essential to select an MSP that can scale with you. The MSP should offer more bandwidth, service hours, and expertise than you currently need. This ensures they can adjust their services to meet your changing requirements.

According to What Are Managed IT Services? Benefits and Considerations, “Providers should be able to scale with you and ideally should have more bandwidth, service hours, and expertise than you need.”

In conclusion, carefully considering these key factors when selecting an MSP can foster a supportive relationship. This can positively impact your business growth and operational efficiency.

Building the Bridge to IT Growth with an MSP

Criteria for Evaluating MSP Services

Choosing the right Managed Service Provider (MSP) is crucial for small business owners. It goes beyond outsourcing technical support. It’s about finding a partner to grow and evolve with over time. Here are the key criteria to consider:

Clear SLAs and Performance Metrics

It’s essential to have clear Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and performance metrics for services managed with your MSP. This ensures mutual understanding of the services and standards expected. As Channel Insider explains, “With the integrity of network systems on the line, picking a great managed service provider means evaluating organization needs, MSP capabilities, the total cost of ownership, and more.” Clear SLAs make the MSP accountable for maintaining high service levels.

Expertise and Experience in Your Industry

Select an MSP with a proven track record in your specific industry. This ensures they’re familiar with the unique challenges and regulatory requirements your business faces. Industry-specific expertise means the MSP can offer tailored solutions that align with your strategic goals.

Proactive Monitoring and Management

Choosing an MSP that offers proactive monitoring, management, and incident response can prevent issues before they escalate. This approach ensures your IT infrastructure remains robust and reliable, reducing downtime and boosting productivity.

Cost-Effectiveness and Total Cost of Ownership

Evaluating an MSP’s cost-effectiveness involves looking at more than just the initial price tag. It’s essential to consider the full range of services provided and any potential for hidden fees or unforeseen charges, and ensure remote monitoring, IT help desk, and IP telephony services are included. An MSP that seems more expensive upfront might ultimately provide greater value by including a more comprehensive set of services and support, potentially saving on future IT costs.

By examining these criteria, small business owners can make an informed choice. Selecting the right MSP supports both current IT needs and future business growth.

Making the Selection: Steps to Choose the Best MSP

Choosing the right Managed Service Provider (MSP) is crucial for small business owners. It involves strategic steps to ensure a good fit for your company’s needs. Here’s a guide to navigate this selection process effectively.

Start by comparing multiple MSP, or information technology managed services, offerings. Create a shortlist of MSPs that match your business requirements. Evaluate each based on their services, pricing models, and scalability. MSPs typically use these pricing models:

  • Per-device
  • Per-user
  • Combination of per-user and per-device
  • Tiered bundles
  • Value-based (fixed-fee subscription)
  • A la carte

(Source: ManageEngine) Use this analysis to find the provider that offers the best value for your IT needs.

Checking references and reviews is also crucial. Contact businesses that have used your shortlisted MSPs. Ask about their experiences, focusing on response times, problem-solving, and reliability. Online reviews and testimonials provide insights into the MSP’s performance and customer satisfaction.

A cultural and operational fit with your MSP is important. The MSP will be a part of your operations, so they must understand your business culture and processes. This ensures smooth communication and a productive partnership. Discuss your goals, expectations, and concerns to check their compatibility with your organization.

Channel Insider highlights the benefits of choosing the right MSP: “Putting network data, systems, or operations in the hands of a third party is daunting – but a league of existing and trusted MSPs show why adopting managing services enriches network capabilities, enables faster scaling, and reduces costs.” (How to Choose an IT Managed Service Provider | Channel Insider).

Following these steps helps small business owners make an informed decision. They can select an MSP that meets their current IT needs and supports future growth, while achieving cost reductions.

Strategizing for Future Growth with Your MSP

For small business owners, growth and scaling are necessary for success. As your business expands, your IT needs, including cloudian object storage and cloud services, change. It’s important to plan for future growth with your Managed IT Service Provider (MSP). This ensures your MSP can meet your current needs and adapt as your business grows.

Continuous improvement and innovation are crucial for long-term success. An MSP committed to continuous improvement, including managed backups and remote IT support proactively seeks ways to enhance efficiency, security, and functionality. Innovation can lead to better data handling, more effective communication tools, or improved customer interfaces. This approach, along with custom IT solutions and system integration, helps your IT infrastructure not only keep up with your business growth but also contribute to it.

According to Cloudian, a key benefit of managed IT services is their capability to maintain systems and implement updates without disrupting your operations. “Managed IT service providers are not tied to the same schedule as your other employees,” which highlights their ability to provide 24/7 coverage and support.

Partnering with an MSP can also lead to significant cost savings for small businesses. According to Think Secure Net, the cost reduction when switching to an MSP varies but is typically around 25-50%. This savings is crucial for reallocating funds towards growth-promoting activities.

Strategizing with your MSP for future growth involves clear communication. You need to share your business goals, anticipated changes, and how technology can drive business value. This partnership allows you to leverage your MSP’s expertise, ensuring your IT infrastructure supports your business growth.

Gardening Your IT Ecosystem with an MSP

Travis Fisher

Travis is Inacom’s Executive Vice President, tasked with assisting customers with their web based marketing initiatives. He’s kinda famous for his BBQ. He lives in Easton, MD with his amazing wife, two kids, and two dogs.


Looking For a great IT service provider?

Recent Posts