Think about how much your business relies on technology. From sales and customer service to strategic planning, accounting and human resources, your IT infrastructure is essentially the backbone of your organization. As a result, a number of challenges may exist including, but not limited to, finite IT resources, IT infrastructure complexity and difficulty staying current with the latest technologies.
To ensure businesses perform in an uninterrupted and optimal way, many companies are looking to Managed Service Providers (MSP) to support and protect their IT environments. With an experienced Managed Service partner, your organization will benefit from:
- Access to wide-ranging IT skill sets without incurring the operational hiring / staffing overhead
- Risk mitigation resulting in avoidance of unplanned downtime and data loss
- Simple and predictable financial models
- Peace of mind knowing your IT infrastructure is secure and supported 24/7
Choosing the right MSP is not easy; the screening process can be very complex and time-consuming. The following is a list of important qualification questions that should be asked when selecting an MSP:
- Does the MSP have a comprehensive IT infrastructure including current hardware, software, co-location facilities and disaster recovery systems?
Look for a provider that goes beyond simple monitoring and device management. An experienced MSP should offer the ultimate in scalability and flexibility, with a blend of tactical services – like security and software updates – to more growth-focused services, such as managing migration to a cloud platform.
- Does the MSP have established relationships with key vendors?
Chances are your IT infrastructure is heterogeneous – hardware, software, network and cloud services are sourced from a variety of vendors. An MSP should, at minimum, have proven experience working with multivendor hybrid environments. More importantly, an MSP must have strong relationships with leading technology providers in order to develop the technical solutions best fitted to your business.
- Can the MSP keep up with evolving technology?
The right technology can be a driving force that gives your organization an edge – reducing costs, saving time and improving operational efficiency. Yet it’s not always easy to evaluate quickly emerging technologies and know what’s best for your business. An expert MSP stays current with technology innovations and is able to offer professional recommendations on which technologies and upgrades your business should consider.
- Does the MSP have the ability to support geographically-dispersed businesses?
Many businesses operate beyond a single geographic area. Your employees, customers and partners may be dispersed across the country or around the globe. The end of the work day in one location may be a peak productivity time in another. Your MSP should be “always on” – leveraging remote tools to monitor your applications, servers, databases, networks, virtualization and the cloud – regardless of time zone.
- Does the MSP have the ability to quickly scale your services upwards or downwards?
Because your business and IT needs are continually changing, flexibility to add or cut managed services without adding unnecessary cost and complexity to your sourcing strategy is mandatory.
- Does the MSP adhere to regulatory compliance standards?
Almost every industry has customer privacy and security compliance regulations. Your MSP must not only be aware of your industry’s compliance and regulatory responsibilities but also have their backup and disaster recovery solutions tailored specifically to meet your compliance requirements.
- Does the MSP have a proven model that includes processes such as onboarding, change management and ongoing support?
When it comes to building a long term business relationship with your MSP, systems and processes matter. Consistent and effective processes including onboarding, change management and ongoing support are imperative to success and help to build mutual trust. Your service provider should be willing to share examples of policy and process documentation and to provide a general overview of their MSP model.
- Does the MSP provide a detailed Service Level Agreement that covers every element of their services?
Service Level Agreement (SLA’s) are designed to ensure all parties are aligned when it comes to the scope of work, the quality in which the work will be delivered, and who is responsible for what within the relationship. A strong and comprehensive SLA is essential to the health of any MSP partnership. Is your MSP willing to commit contractually to meeting your service-level requirements and back up those commitments if those SLA’s are not met?
A good, reputable MSP should cover all of these areas during initial discussions, however, if this is not the case, don’t be afraid to ask the questions prior to committing to the partnership.
Contact us today to learn how Blair can address these questions comprehensively to ensure you are on track in choosing the right MSP for your specific requirements.