Things to look for in a Managed Service Provider

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As businesses start to grow, so do their technology needs. Growing businesses often find that they save time and money by contracting with the right Managed Services partner. Managed Services allow you to augment your existing IT staff and infrastructure by partnering with a dedicated IT firm to take care of your network, servers, computers, and all your technology needs. This is the perfect solution for companies that need to operate at peak efficiency but do not have the resources to manage a large on-site IT staff.
However, the increasing range of expertise, technology, and management models can make choosing an MSP a difficult task. As virtualization and cloud backup services become standard business practices, more and more MSPs are entering the marketplace. Choosing the right provider is essential to successfully migrate your network to an outsourced operations center. By performing your due diligence in selecting your managed services partner, you can easily avoid costly and detrimental mistakes.
Here are 12 Things to look for as you are evaluating a managed services provider
Live Support.
Does a real person answer the phone every time you call? Even in the middle of the night, you should be able to talk to a person who can directly contact a technician when you have a big emergency.
Designated Team. 
Do you know the people working on your systems or does it seem like a revolving door of faceless employees? Your technicians should have a clear idea of what makes your systems tick and you should have the opportunity to know them by name.
Respectful Response Time.
Your downtime is money. Does your IT team recognize that? Your support team should always work with a sense of urgency and know how important your systems are to your business.
Knowledge and Expertise.
Any managed service provider should, at least, have the knowledge that goes beyond conventional management and operating system availability and maintenance. Check the level of knowledge related to management changes, virtualization, high availability, middleware and database data, multiple network technologies, integration platform, mobility, security and, of course, cloud technologies.
Alignment with industry best practices and ITIL standards
A key to achieving a reliable, highly available IT infrastructure is to optimize IT management. A services provider should employ industry best practices in managing your IT resources—in particular, aligning with the ITIL approach to IT service management. ITIL best practices encompass a problem, incident, event, change, configuration, inventory, capacity and performance management as well as reporting. Best practices for transitioning from in-house to the provider’s management system are also a critical area to explore.
Proactive, technology-based approach to IT services management.
Find out if the services provider has a “break/fix” mentality or a proactive approach that emphasizes problem prevention and continuous improvement. Look for a provider that goes beyond simple monitoring and device management.
Support for multi-vendor environments and strong partnerships.
Today’s IT infrastructures are typically heterogeneous environments comprised of hardware, software and network products from a variety of vendors. A services provider should have at minimum proven experience working with multi-vendor environments—and more importantly, have partnerships with leading vendors to help ensure availability today and visibility into product evolution paths and emerging technologies. A truly vendor-agnostic services provider should play the role of trusted technology advisor, helping you select the technologies that provide the best fit for your business.
Performance-based service level agreements.
A significant advantage of managed services is that responsibility for performance rests with the services provider. Your focus should be on what the services provider delivers rather than how the service is performed—which enables the provider to innovate, improve service delivery and reduce costs for mutual benefit. In turn, the services provider should be willing to commit contractually to meet your service level requirements—and back up those commitments with financial penalties or other recompense if those service level agreements are not met.
Technology foresight and a path to innovation.
With strategic partnering becoming increasingly prevalent, it’s important to consider the impact sourcing relationships can have—not only on business outcomes but also on a company’s core business model and corporate culture. If innovation and transformation are critical components of your business strategy, how can a prospective managed services provider contribute? Do they have proprietary insights or experiences that can provide headlights into future technological or market shifts? What competitive advantages could you gain from access to—or, even better, collaboration with—the provider’s R&D function? How can the provider’s expertise, assets, reach and network of partners help you develop new business models or expand into new markets?
Financial stability and reputation.
Whether you are considering a relatively short-term, introductory foray into managed services or looking for a long-term, strategic relationship, a prospective vendor’s financial stability is of utmost importance. Today, a service provider’s length of time in the marketplace is no longer a reliable predictor of future longevity. It is worth your while to research annual reports, financial statements, and opinions offered by business and IT industry press and analysts. And ask potential providers to back up their claims with customer references and quantified success metrics.
The type of equipment used by an MSP is also a crucial consideration. Your provider should deploy a fault-tolerant environment with a robust backup system that offers zero downtime and 24/7 monitoring. Technicians should be available at all hours to swiftly address any issues so that productivity is never interrupted.
Technicians that Speak Your Language.
Does the support technician use technical vocabulary? Do you feel like you know less after a visit than you did before? Your technician should be a valuable member of your company’s team who can help you decide when updates are necessary and when simple changes will save time, money, and stress. You should be comfortable asking questions and understand the answers you’re given.
Whether it is improving efficiency by saving time, saving money on problems before they occur, or avoiding costly disasters and repairs, a managed services provider can bring great value to your business and improve your bottom line. Finding a true partner to look out for your technology needs will help your business grow to the next level.
Are you ready for Managed Services? Get in touch to know how we can benefit your organization.