Whether your business is growing and you’re ready to level up your IT to include a dedicated IT provider, or you’re looking for a new IT provider to partner with, you need to consider working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) . So let's talk about what to look for in an MSP and how to find the right partner for your business.
What is an MSP?
Our definition of a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a company that remotely manages its client’s IT infrastructure and/or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. In a previous blog post, we’ve talked about an MSP being “a company that gives SMBs the capability to outsource their IT service delivery requirements. A good MSP will actively keep an eye on all systems, often proactively resolving issues before they even impact the business.”
A good MSP should be your trusted partner in ensuring that your IT is always on the right track, working with you to create an IT strategy that aligns with your business goals, proactively managing and monitoring your IT systems, and being on hand for support when things do need fixing.
Why would you hire an MSP over a lone "IT tech"?
1. Strategy First
A good Managed Service Provider won’t just launch into fixing anything in your IT network that’s broken. They will first do a thorough analysis of your existing systems, report on anything that needs to be upgraded and work with you to ensure your IT strategy aligns with your business goals. There’s no point spending money on IT just for technology’s sake – it's important to ensure your IT budget is being put to the best use. And with the IT strategy in place, this enables you to focus on your core business and leave the IT work to your reliable MSP.
2. More predictable costs.
Most MSPs will charge a regular fee (often monthly) to manage and monitor your network and give you access to a Helpdesk, with a large portion of the work they do covered by this fee. They can also help with forecasting your IT budget, to help plan for equipment upgrades and other IT expenses that may arise. With the MSP proactively managing your IT network, the risk of downtime is dramatically reduced and therefore unforeseen expenses are much less likely. So while you may still have some expenses outside of the monthly charge, your IT costs become far more predictable which makes for a much healthier business cashflow.
3. Access to the latest quality resources
By choosing to partner with an MSP, you get access to a range of highly skilled and reliable IT personnel without the financial commitment of recruiting your own IT staff. A good MSP will have knowledge and be experienced with the latest range of IT equipment and systems and be able to give recommendations about the best technology for your business needs. They will also often have a network of specialty suppliers available through which to quote on and purchase your technology requirements, rather than having to deal with generic retailers who don’t understand your business.
4. Better security measures
The value of having a quality MSP on your team is knowing that your business is as cybersecure as possible. Your MSP will be able to advise on the best cybersecurity solutions for your business, including information on firewalls, cyber-insurance, passwords and user account security, security awareness training and routine audits. Rather than flying by the seat of your pants and *hoping* that your systems are safe, your MSP will be able to ensure you have an effective cybersecurity program in place in your business.
5. A true partnership
It's great to have someone around to fix your tech when it breaks, but hiring an MSP is about working in true partnership. Your trusted IT partner should understand your business goals, keep you informed about opportunities to improve your systems and procedures which will drive business improvement and work with you on projects, as well as providing high quality helpdesk support.
Are there risks involved in hiring an MSP?
There are always risks involved in bringing a supplier on board in your business, especially one who has access to your company data, so it’s important you ensure you are hiring the right MSP in whom you trust. A quality MSP will have documented policies and procedures on how they keep your company data safe when they are working with you. Rather than one individual storing all the information about your business in his/her head, a quality MSP will be able to give you access to a team of IT professionals with a range of experience and knowledge.
What questions should I ask when hiring an MSP?
We understand that embarking on a partnership with a new Managed Service Provider might feel daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Perhaps you might not even know what questions to ask a potential IT partner!
Firstly, think about what your intentions are when looking for an IT service provider:
- What are your non-negotiables about this partnership? What things are really important to you when sizing up your MSP and what things can you live without? For example, do you want someone who has a local presence because you need lots of on-site work done, or is it okay to access helpdesk support remotely and on-site work can be arranged when required?
- How do you like working with an IT partner? Do you want someone who can manage everything so you can get on with your core business role, or would you like to work closely together?
- Do you want a partner who just keeps things ticking away and fixes when required, or do you want someone who is actively managing your business systems and always looking for ways to improve your business?
We’ve created a handy checklist with eleven questions to ask an MSP before you hire, so click on the button below to download and ensure you find the right IT partner for your business.
Now that we’ve covered what a Managed Service Provider is and what hiring one can do for your business, as well as the risks to consider and some tips to get you started, it's time for you to go forth and find a great IT partner to work with!
If you’re looking for a Managed Service Provider who can deliver solutions that drive change in your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and arrange a no-obligation chat to see if Grassroots IT could be the right IT partner for you.