There aren’t many small businesses that can afford to implement and manage their own IT environments according to the stringent data security and privacy standards demanded of today’s organizations. Not only is it extremely costly to operate an in-house IT department, doing everything alone makes it difficult to tap into new opportunities and scale seamlessly with demand.
Partnering with a managed IT services provider (MSP) can help you better navigate the path to digital transformation while reducing overheads and keeping your employees focused on what they do best.
It also means placing a lot of trust in a third party to provide support when you need it and at the right price. Make the wrong choice, and you could end up in a worse place than when you started.
Here are four of the most important considerations when evaluating MSPs:
#1. Industry expertise
Although many of the technical fundamentals are the same across all industries, there are a few which are specific to certain sectors. This is especially the case with matters of regulatory compliance and standardization. No two technology environments look the same, and there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.
By partnering with an MSP that has extensive experience in your industry and its unique challenges, you’ll be better placed to make the right technology investments and achieve alignment with your business goals. Industry experts will also have a deep understanding of customer expectations and the tools needed to meet them.
#2. Proven experience
One of the most common mistakes businesses make when choosing an MSP is thinking only about cost. But you do tend to get what you pay for, and going rock-bottom will likely result in a fragile partnership that doesn’t just fail to meet your needs, but may also leave your systems vulnerable to cyberattacks. Since any partnership with an MSP involves a great deal of trust, you can’t afford to take any relationship for granted.
When evaluating MSPs, you should ask for references such as reviews and testimonials that can help you make a preliminary shortlist. However, nothing’s better than being able to talk to existing customers in your industry and learning about their experience with certain MSPs.
#3. Proactive maintenance
Traditional IT support models follow the break/fix model, whereby you call in a technician if something goes wrong. In the meantime, it’s practically impossible to tell how long it will take to get the system back up and running or how much it will cost. Moreover, maintenance and repair bills aren’t the only costs of such an approach — the resultant downtime can lead to lost customers and reputational damage.
A dependable MSP should offer proactive maintenance by identifying potential issues before they arise. They should also specify maximum response times to support requests in their service level agreements (SLAs), as well as a minimum level of service availability. Be sure that they have a proven track record of meeting these obligations, too.
#4. Long-term strategy
It’s sometimes easy to think of an MSP as a vendor who sells IT products and services, but a dependable MSP is actually far more than that. They’re business partners with a vested interest in helping you achieve your goals.
While there’s always a possibility you might eventually outgrow their capability to provide the services you need, the best MSPs will do their utmost to accommodate you for the duration of your contract. They shouldn’t enforce any vendor lock-in, and they should always be transparent about their pricing and services.
The best relationships are the ones built with the longer term in mind, but don’t risk getting stuck in a rut the moment your requirements change.
Prosum provides advanced IT solutions and a people-first approach to help businesses in Los Angeles achieve outstanding growth. Call us today to schedule a consultation.