9 tips for choosing your MSP

Not all managed service providers are created equal.

Technology never stops evolving. While the advancement of software, hardware and connectivity can deliver efficiencies and opportunities that we could not have dreamed of even a decade ago, that rapid evolution presents a real challenge to business owners. Whether you've only recently ventured out on your own or oversee a well-established small- or mid-sized business, how you manage your network is integral to the success of your organization.

Managed service providers (MSPs) offer a third option beyond either paying for a full-time IT staff member or trying to juggle your IT demands on your own. Partnering with an MSP allows you the freedom to focus on your business instead of fighting to keep your IT infrastructure operational, compliant and secure.

But not all MSPs are created equal. Choosing the right MSP to entrust with the full scope of your organization's information technology shouldn't be undertaken lightly. Before you choose a managed IT services provider, it's important that you take time to weigh some key considerations.

  1. Look for someone who understands your business and wants to learn more. Your MSP should understand the needs of both your wider industry and your unique organization. An MSP can't develop appropriate strategies for your business to grow and thrive unless it fully understands your organization and is nimble and experienced enough to work with any specialized software and regulatory compliance that may apply to your business.

  2. Request references and use them. Current clients can help you determine if an MSP has experience in your industry or (at minimum) with businesses similar in size to your own. Look for a provider who has been around for a while and has a solid reputation. You'll have greater peace of mind knowing that your network will be properly managed and that your MSP will work hard to preserve their good name. They are more likely to view you as a partner, because their success relies in part on yours.

  3. Ask a potential MSP if they offer anything beyond managed IT services. If they do, the scope of their business is not laser-focused on being a top-tier MSP, and they cannot deliver the concentrated attention and dedication your enterprise deserves.

  4. Don't be the only one asking questions. The most effective managed services provider is one who probes for more information about your company, your needs, your challenges and your goals. That process is key to formulating the right IT strategy for your business.

  5. Seek an MSP with a proactive approach that goes beyond break-fix services. Forward-thinking MSPs utilize proactive remote monitoring so they can spot and prevent problems before a crisis situation causes downtime or data loss. Fully realized disaster recovery plans that include regular on-site and off-site backups are crucial.

  6. Ask any MSP you're considering if they outsource any part of their support. If you can't look their technicians in the eye, they won't regularly be available to come to your place of business. If this is the case, that provider isn't worth your money.

  7. Be certain that provider accountability is written into any service level agreement. You have the right to expect that the MSP you choose will be held accountable if they don't meet the level of network performance they promise. Ask how the service provider will make good on any failures.

  8. Avoid providers who strictly bill by the hour. One of the biggest benefits of partnering with an MSP is that your IT spending is controlled and predictable. Providers who charge flat fees for defined services benefit themselves by doing work right the first time.

  9. Recognize that the up-front cost of managing your network should not be the only deciding factor in choosing your MSP. The financial benefits of reliable security, regulatory compliance, minimized downtime, and averting spendy network disasters should lead you to carefully weigh all of the considerations listed here.

With a trusted MSP partner keeping things humming behind the scenes, you can concentrate on building your organization's productivity, resilience, and bottom line. To find out how ELBO Computing Resources managed IT services can deliver that peace of mind for your company, call 605-361-3720.

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