Guidelines in evaluating a managed services provider

Guidelines in evaluating a managed services provider

There are many ways for the technology you use to match and exceed the expanding needs, challenges, and goals of your evolving business. Outsourcing your IT functions by partnering with an IT services expert or managed IT services provider (MSP) has become an exemplary way to do so. At affordable monthly rates, MSPs deliver solutions that address new challenges in innovative ways, are customized to align with your business's goals, and can be flexibly adapted to suit changing needs.

But don’t go rushing out to put your IT infrastructure, the lifeblood of your business, into the hands of any MSP just yet. Before signing a service level agreement (SLA), any savvy business person must perform due diligence. Read our guide to make sure your company gets every bang for each buck it spends on an MSP.

Services and solutions

Before anything else, you need to know the IT services or solutions that your firm needs and if the MSP can deliver. For instance, do you need 24/7/365 expert maintenance and monitoring? Do you need assistance in running daily IT operations? Do you need end-user IT support? Are you looking for cloud security? Are you looking to optimize your existing IT infrastructure? Have that conversation with a potential MSP partner about the right services and solutions for your specific issues, goals, and budget.

If you don’t know what you need and have that conversation with an MSP, you’ll be blindly accepting whatever that MSP offers. You don’t want to fall for the latest tech trends for the sake of being cutting-edge. Do you even need cloud security or will an on-premises solution be more efficient?

One should also find out if that MSP’s solutions match your future needs. This means examining 5 years down the line if an MSP has the capabilities to scale services and solutions with your business’s plans and trajectory.

Scope

You can’t entrust your IT to an MSP that isn’t familiar with the nature of your business. A potential MSP partner has to have worked with businesses similar in size, scope, and industry to yours.

It may have a good track record but has it provided solutions and services to a company of your size? This is a crucial question since IT requirements can differ significantly between small, mid-size and large organizations.

Your specific industry will also have data security and privacy requirements. No solutions or services offered should put your company in danger of non-compliance to regulations such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, FFIEC-IT, only to face hefty fines and reputational damage. In fact, a proper MSP will help a company’s IT and data management adhere to any industry-relevant compliance regulations.

Support and monitoring

Proactive monitoring and maintenance by a team of experts is one of the key benefits of an MSP. For one, the service saves you a lot of money by taking care of potential issues before they turn into costly situations, such as protracted downtime. And two, it takes the place of in-house IT that might be understaffed or lack the skills to keep a close watch on your systems.

With that in mind, you need to ask your prospective MSP if they offer 24/7/365 support and can provide a dedicated or support manager for your company? How long does it typically take for them to address IT issues? And lastly, what’s the guaranteed uptime? This is an important question because no matter how well a network is maintained and monitored, rare and occasional outages may still occur.

Cybersecurity

Given that businesses, regardless of their size, have become the prime targets for cyberattacks, an MSP should be able to demonstrate its capabilities in protecting your network, systems, and data from these threats and resulting financial losses.

Here are some of the relevant questions to ask:

  • Does the MSP have documented and tested security processes and systems?
  • Which of these are automated?
  • Is penetration testing one of their services?
  • Does it offer security awareness training?
  • Does it have a documented cybersecurity plan?
  • Can they patch and update your systems?
  • How often can they do that?
  • Is the MSP capable of network security protocols and systems?
  • Is the MSP capable of offering a fully-tested disaster recovery strategy?

Last but not least

Check for client testimonials, technical certifications or partnerships, and even awards for exemplary services. Don’t forget to check for partnerships with technology vendors. After a few MSPs pass your checklist with flying colors, references such as these may give an edge to that one MSP. There’s nothing like knowing what your peers and trusted names in the technology industry think about an MSP.

In the current business climate, finding the right partner to meet precise business technology needs will make an immense difference, especially for smaller companies. MSPs like Spectrumwise can level the playing field and give access to IT that otherwise would have only been available to larger enterprises. Contact us and get an IT assessment of your organization and find out what competitive advantages you can gain.

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