Maintaining your network, managing your cloud systems, and staying on top of the latest cybersecurity threats can be challenging. Especially when you are not well-versed in IT or when your role is running a business. Sure, you can hire an IT professional, but finding that unicorn that can handle it all, and wants to handle it all, is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. Another, more viable option is to work with an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP). But how do you find the right MSP for your business?
Vetting a Managed Service Provider to handle your IT needs may sound overwhelming and a bit scary. Let’s face it; an MSP will have access to a lot of company information. But the process of choosing an MSP doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may seem, especially if you begin your analysis with a few basics.
How To Choose An MSP: Start with The Basics
The MSP Should Understand Your Industry:
Industries are different. Some require specialized software and deal with regulatory compliance issues. Some are more susceptible to cyber-attacks. Look for an MSP with experience in your industry because they will have the necessary knowledge to work with its unique nuances.
The MSP Should Focus on Providing Managed IT Services:
IT is complex, and an MSP that focuses solely on IT knows this. When an MSP has IT services and services in a different area, they may not be able to fully support your IT needs or have the depth of IT knowledge that your business needs. Stick with an MSP that completely focuses on IT.
The MSP Should Have Experience Handling Traditional, Hybrid, and Work from Home Scenarios:
Managing IT within a traditional office environment is different than managing IT for hybrid and work from home scenarios. Given the highly flexible work environment, most businesses are currently in, it’s important to find an MSP that has experience across traditional, hybrid, and work from home scenarios.
The MSP Should Have Comprehensive IT Offerings:
You know that adage, you don’t know what you don’t know? Often that can be applied to your IT needs. A business may think they need network support, for example, but may end up finding out that they also need cybersecurity support (fast!). And, if your IT provider doesn’t offer that service, you are back at square one. Look for an MSP that provides comprehensive services including strategy and planning, proactive and responsive services, troubleshooting, cybersecurity support, business continuity and contingency planning, device, cloud, and infrastructure monitoring and IT training.
The MSP Should Be Able to Grow with Your Business:
A business’s IT needs will change over time, especially as the business grows. Be sure that the MSP can grow with your company and has experience working with businesses that are larger than yours.
The MSP Should Invest in Continuous Learning for Employees:
IT is continuing to evolve. Cybercriminals have made it their mission to attack businesses and are therefore trying new tactics and techniques. To stay on top of things, MSPs should prioritize continuous learning for employees and encourage it!
How To Choose An MSP: Dig Deeper
Once you’ve gotten through an initial analysis, it’s time to dig a bit deeper using the basics noted above. This deeper dive will help you get a better feel for how the MSP works and how they will work with your business.
Does The MSP Ask Questions to Learn About Your Business:
MSPs need to understand your business to provide the right services. What better way to learn than to ask questions? Asking questions will help them understand your challenges, potential immediate needs, and what is keeping you up at night.
Does The MSP Outsource Any Part of Their Support:
At some point, your business may need someone to come on-site. If the MSP works with outsourced employees, coming on-site may prove to be difficult and not a good situation for your business. Strive to find an MSP that does not outsource parts of their support.
Does The MSP Charge Flat Rates:
When working with an MSP, look for one that charges a flat rate vs. an hourly rate. A flat rate means that the MSP will work efficiently to complete the project or solve the issue. But it also means that if necessary, and sometimes it is necessary, they will go beyond the allotted hours to find a solution to your challenge.
Does The MSP Use Proprietary Products:
Proprietary products may sound great…. wow; they must be good, they have their own product! But, if you decide to part ways with the MSP, how will your information be transferred to a new MSP? It can’t. Look for an MSP that works with a trusted, off-the-shelf product.
Does The MSP Have a Comprehensive Onboarding Process:
The onboarding process is an important step in a new MSP relationship. Ask the MSP to share their onboarding process and talk through the steps. Understanding the process ahead of time will help you get a better feel for what it will be like to work with them and give you an idea of what information they will need from you.
Does The MSP Provide Cybersecurity Training for Your Business:
One of a business’s best defense lines for cybersecurity is its employees. Training those employees is a huge step towards thwarting cyberattacks. Look for an MSP that will provide cybersecurity training for your employees and will be available to answer employee questions. Spending time with “your first line of defense” and making sure they are well educated on potential risks can go a long way towards protecting your business.
How To Choose An MSP: A Final Analysis
When you’re at the final stage of reviewing a potential MSP partner, you’re likely looking for a main differentiator. We’ve put together an IT Due Diligence Checklist that can help. Our checklist of 39 questions to ask when evaluating a potential MSP includes topics from security infrastructure to company culture. The Intivix checklist can help you find the differentiator and help you have a deeper conversation with the MSP, enabling you to get to know them better. After all, your comfort level with the team you will be working with should also be a factor.
We would be happy to answer all questions outlined above and learn more about your business. We are happy to answer any questions you might have about MSPs, what we do, and how we can help you. If you’re interested in exploring how Intivix may be the IT Managed Service Provider partner you’re looking for, give us a call or see for yourself.