A Guide to Evaluating Your Managed Service Provider (MSP)
Today, many businesses work with a Managed Service Provider, more commonly referred to as an MSP. MSPs play an important role in augmenting the capacity of internal IT teams, helping businesses save money, overcome hiring challenges, and unlock advanced capabilities.
There are many MSPs out there. Some are brilliant. Others are far from brilliant, and most fall somewhere in between. Determining where your MSP fits on this scale is important to understand whether they’re providing your business with sufficient value. But how do you make this judgment?
In this guide, we explore the various factors that business owners and IT leaders should consider when evaluating the quality of their MSP. By assessing service providers on the qualities outlined below, businesses can understand whether they are being well-served by their current MSP, or whether their business could be strengthened by a partnership with a new provider.
Tech Heads is a full-service IT consulting firm that provides a variety of IT services ranging from Managed Services to Security Awareness Training. Our team has over 25 years of experience serving as a long-standing IT outsourcing partner to hundreds of leading businesses across a diverse range of industries.
Key Factors to Consider When Evaluating an MSP)
No two MSPs work in exactly the same way. They all use different methodologies, technologies, and service delivery frameworks. But regardless of how your MSP operates, it’s crucial to ensure their approach fulfills the IT needs of your business.
If you’ve been feeling dissatisfied with your current IT outsourcing partner, the factors below may help you pinpoint the reasons why. But even if your relationship is strong, there’s a chance that your MSP could be providing even more value – you just don’t know to ask for it.
As you evaluate the performance of your MSP, consider the following factors:
- Underlying technical frameworks
- Scope of services
- The value provided to your business
Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors and explore exactly how you should weigh them when evaluating the overall performance of your MSP.
Frequent, honest communication is vital to a successful partnership. You shouldn’t just be hearing from your MSP through their monthly reports: your IT team should be in an ongoing dialogue with them, identifying new ways to strengthen your business’s infrastructure.
The right MSP won’t be afraid to tell you when your team is the one causing an issue, but equally, they should be receptive to constructive criticism from your team. Be careful that this honest, direct communication does not develop into a combative relationship, but make sure both parties feel comfortable being candid. In a technical environment where an open flow of information is key to both parties’ success, frank communication is vital.
Make sure you have a good relationship with the lead on your account and note how long it takes to get in contact with a specialist when you need support. Some MSPs might boast a 5-minute response time 24/7, but if you’re speaking to a call center worker, instead of qualified IT professionals, that’s ultimately meaningless.
Underlying Technical Frameworks
It’s often the case that lower-quality MSPs operate without a guiding technical framework. Instead of building your IT infrastructure on the strong foundation of the ITIL framework or CIS Controls, they simply maintain whatever infrastructure you originally had in place.
This approach is not comprehensive and often lacks focus, potentially leaving your business exposed to cybersecurity attacks or other infrastructure challenges. Ask your MSP to explain the technical frameworks your system architecture is based on. If they can’t provide a comprehensive answer, the alarm bells should be ringing in your head.
Scope of Services
An MSP shouldn’t just focus on maintaining your current systems and infrastructure, they should also act as a partner that helps progress your business. In today’s ever-more technologically driven world, the strength of your business’s IT systems is a key driver of your success. Installing updates and providing you with monthly reports isn’t enough: instead, MSPs should be proactively identifying new opportunities to improve efficiency in your business.
Not all MSPs have the technical expertise to perform these services. Ideally, your MSP should have a deep bench of proven IT talent with a variety of specialisms. This ensures that when your business needs the support of an expert, it can quickly access it.
For many businesses, working with an MSP provides a transfer of risk. Instead of taking on the responsibility of managing important elements of their IT infrastructure internally, business leaders can outsource this responsibility to their MSP.
This only works if the MSP is willing to be accountable and take a proactive approach to managing your business’s IT infrastructure. Issues should be resolved quickly, and if they aren’t, the MSP should be transparent enough to share why.
Value Provided to Your Business
Price is often an important variable that businesses consider when selecting an MSP. Since business leaders have traditionally viewed outsourcing as a cost-saving exercise, it’s not uncommon for businesses to opt for the lowest-priced MSP.
This is a mistake that can have serious consequences for your business. Much the same as you wouldn’t schedule surgery with the cheapest surgeon you could find, you shouldn’t default to the cheapest MSP. Your focus shouldn’t be on cost, it should be on value.
Cheap, low-quality MSPs provide cheap, low-quality solutions. A more sophisticated MSP might cost three or four times as much but provides value far in excess of their billings. High-quality MSPs help move your whole business forward, transforming IT from a major vulnerability that drains productivity into a sustainable competitive advantage.
Get a Vulnerability Analysis from Tech Heads
If your MSP has been a long-term partner, it can be challenging to evaluate their service standards. An objective judgment is required, but your assessment will be clouded by your existing relationship.
One way to solve this problem? Seek out a Vulnerability Assessment from a third party. At Tech Heads, our vulnerability assessment scans for critical gaps in your system, from rogue devices to unnecessary open ports.
This not only helps businesses understand where their blind spots lie, but it also helps leaders obtain an objective assessment of the quality of their IT infrastructure.
Interested in learning where your business stands? Contact Us Today!
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