There are a myriad of reasons why a business might want to outsource IT services which are essential to a managed service provider (or MSP): lower costs, less responsibility for training, and more. And it might seem as though high quality MSPs are a dime a dozen, especially if you’re using Google as a metric!
But not every MSP is going to be able to meet your needs – and even some of the better ones may not be best suited to your company. That’s why we’re here to talk you through how MSPs work, how best to work with them, and what you could gain from outsource IT services.
An SLA That Suits Your Needs
Any relationship that you establish with an MSP is going to be built upon the SLA, or Service Level Agreement, which you will decide on early in your discussions. It’s important that you craft an agreement that can work for both parties – don’t just choose an off the rack package because of the convenience.
You’ll need to make sure that the MSP has a thorough understanding of your business while drafting the SLA, taking into account any plans for future growth and what will and won’t be covered in the monthly costs.
A Company That Works Well With Your Team
While IT teams aren’t typically known for their interpersonal drama or volatility, you’ll still need to make sure that any provider you bring on can get along well with your existing staff – merging teams can often result in confusion, and eventually resentment, over where responsibilities lie.
Therefore you’ll need to look for an MSP who is happy and willing to work with any staff you already have, and to understand their position in your business clearly via a pre-planned way of working. While there are a range of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to keeping a project in house vs outsourcing it to your MSP, you’ll still want to ensure that everyone knows what they’re doing – otherwise, you could be running into problems.
Ongoing, Proactive Support From Professionals
One of the major benefits of working with an MSP is the proactive maintenance they can provide to your business. For instance: imagine you’ve walked into your office on a Monday morning, only to find that your systems have been down since you left on Friday evening. If you’ve hired an MSP, you could instead be getting a text on Friday night telling you that the problem has been found and fixed without you even knowing it was there to begin with.
As downtime can cost your business thousands, maybe even tens of thousands per hour lost, the first scenario isn’t just more convenient – it could save your business.
Now, you won’t always get this kind of support from an MSP as standard – you’ll have to enquire in your early discussions. But many have system monitoring applications that alert 24 hour staff to any issues that might arise, rather than relying on you to let them know about any problems. This might not be 100% essential for your company, but if you can’t afford the costs of downtime, this could be an invaluable investment.
Experience With Businesses Like Yours
When you’re searching for an MSP, it’s always useful to make sure that the company you’re working with has already provided IT support for businesses that are similar to your own.
This doesn’t mean that they need to have worked with a company that’s 100% identical – after all, no two businesses are entirely alike – but finding one that has worked with a business of the same size, industry, or age as yours is a good place to start. If you know they have, then you can rest assured that they’ll know where your business is coming from, even if they don’t know all of the nuances of your specific company yet.
So, when you have your first meetings, try to ask which companies the MSP has worked for before – you could even request some testimonials from happy customers. Alternatively, you could try checking out LinkedIn for who the MSP is connected to, and messaging them directly to ask about their experiences. If they’re satisfied with the services they’ve received, they’ll most likely be happy to tell you!
Growing With Your Provider
You might not have any plans to drastically expand your business in the near future, but you’ll still want to make sure that any MSP you choose to work with is capable of keeping up with your level of ambition. After all, unlike other suppliers you might work with, an MSP will become incredibly involved with your business after just a short time.
For instance, if you’ve spent a year working with one, it’s likely that they’ll have helped with designing systems and refining your network infrastructure, moving or expanding to new locations, and more – they may have even been present at some of the most important meetings in your history. It’s impossible to neatly end a relationship like this with a clean break; separating from an MSP is far more complex than the initial hiring.
Therefore, you’ll want to prevent this by knowing early on that they can keep pace with your plans for growth, and maybe even grow along with you. You can do this by asking your MSP where they see themselves in two, five, or even ten years time – if they can give you a detailed answer, you’ll know that they’re just as forward thinking as you are. You could even ask what they would do in scenarios like landing an unexpectedly large contract – would they panic, or work quickly to support you?
Every business success story has begun life as something much more humble, and IT has become an increasingly important factor in determining which companies achieve their goals. If an MSP can’t keep up with your ambition, then you might want to start from square one and find another.
However, if they’re as determined as you are to expand into new, exciting spaces, then they could be a useful ally going forward, supporting you on your way to the top. Hope now you know how and why you should outsource IT services for your business.