Figuring out how to find the right Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) was plenty complex prior to the Spring of 2002. MSPs come in so many shapes, sizes, and price points that organizations are often hard-pressed to really understand how much horsepower they need from an IT provider. COVID-19 sent many workforces unexpectedly reeling into the world of remote work to degrees they never envisioned if they’d considered telecommuting or work-from-home at all. This startling new marketplace environment has added pressure to MSP selection, as business owners try to get ready for future in which the quantity and duration of IT demands created by increased remote work remain uncertain.There’s solid strategy for finding the right MSP for your business, and now more than ever, business owners will benefit from methodically investigating a few key aspects of potential MSPs. While COVID-19 has left many leaders feeling way behind and as if they have to scramble to catch up, it’s still important to take your time and ask thoughtful questions so that you get an exceptional MSP fit for your company’s needs that will serve your vision for long-term performance and success. Here are some starting questions to ask when interviewing potential MSPs to serve as your offsite IT department.
Any MSP you do business with should be well-credentialed in multiple areas. They should hold multiple certifications from or memberships in well-known, credible national or international organizations that govern quality standards, such as Microsoft, Dell, MCSA, WatchGuardONE, and local and regional business bureaus and chambers of commerce. They should also be qualified to offer a broad range of MSP services in recognizable platform/provider names such as Linux, VMWare, Dell VxRails, Citirix, and Cumulus, among others. If your organization uses industry-specific software, ask potential MSP partners if they have experience with that platform, are familiar with it, or have worked with similar programs or industry providers.
Find out what the service model looks like when you need immediate help. Does the MSP have 24/7 support? What kind of contact information will you have access to if you get in an after-hours jam? Will you have a dedicated administrator, or might you work with different support folks every time you have a need? The middle of the night is the wrong time to find out you’ve been assigned to a dispatcher who will relay your concern at the open of business tomorrow.
IT needs invariably change over time. When you are interviewing a potential MSP, find out what the breadth and depth of their services look like beyond your immediate needs. Software updates, firewall protection, antivirus systems, security patches, compliance measures, terminal cloud services . . . just because you don’t need all of it this minute doesn’t mean you won’t later. Is the MSP you’re interviewing a company that can support your organization’s growth over time, or will you be shopping again in two to five years for a provider that has capacity to meet increased demands?
There’s nothing wrong with a great startup, but there’s a lot at stake when you hire an MSP. Find out what a potential partner’s reputation is through references, testimonials, and even annual reports or financial statements. Find out their scope . . . are they serving national or international organizations, or just smaller, local entities? MSP providers servicing larger companies in multiple locations have established themselves as reliable, high-performers.
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