A Comprehensive Guide To Choosing A Managed Services Provider
Managed Services is a fast-growing industry- currently valued at 152.05 billion USD and predicted to reach USD 274.2 billion by 2026. These numbers make it clear that businesses and organizations all around the world are shifting more and more towards outsourcing their IT needs, and MSPs have risen up to meet this ever-growing demand.
So what exactly are MSPs? Why does your business need one? And how do you ensure that you’re choosing to partner with the right company? In this article, we answer these questions and more.
What Is A Managed Services Provider?
A Managed Service Provider is a third-party company that delivers services such as networking, mobility, infrastructure, security, and application on behalf of its clients. As opposed to on-demand services, an MSP provides proactive support following a need-based plan. MSPs are a good option for businesses that cannot afford to hire in-house, and as they are usually priced using a subscription model, businesses can also more accurately estimate their IT spending.
Traditionally, the term MSP was applied only to infrastructure and device-centric services, but it has now broadened to also include regular management, maintenance and support. MSPs usually provide their services at the client’s locations but can also work remotely. Oftentimes, they bundle up hardware, software and cloud solutions as part of their service offerings.
Managed service providers can provide a high level of technology services at a much cheaper cost than it would take for businesses to do it themselves, and also with more scalability and flexibility. Managed services differ from traditional IT outsourcing in that while IT consulting arrangements are usually project-based plans helping businesses to solve a particular problem, managed services are ongoing subscriptions.
Why You Should Invest In One
According to NTT’s 2021 Global Managed Service Report, the main benefits of managed service providers include access to industry expertise, scalability, flexibility, improved security and reduced costs. MSPs have the resources to access technologies and systems that regular businesses cannot afford. This means they are able to offer higher quality services with better performance and greater efficiency.
In the post-pandemic cut-throat business scene, businesses must invest in newer and better technology if they are to gain a competitive advantage and move with changing times. Even if a business is small-scale with a lower IT budget, investing in Managed Services and outsourcing IT solutions can be much more efficient and cheaper than hiring IT personnel, and therefore Managed Services are something businesses must consider investing in.
Hiring a trusted managed service provider can bring you many benefits, such as:
- Outsourcing IT services allows you to stay focused on your business’s core everyday operations, while experts handle all the time-consuming, complex projects.
- Investing in IT personnel, infrastructure and systems can be extremely costly, and it can also be difficult to predict your spending upfront, as the needs of your business are likely to change. As managed services usually operate on fixed monthly rates, any maintenance, repairs or hardware breakdowns will be accounted for in a fixed payment. So not only do you know exactly how much your business is going to spend on the service, but can also avoid breaking the bank if emergencies occur, which means that investing in managed services is overall much more cost-friendly than traditional IT outsourcing.
- Managed services help you avoid sunk and operational costs. By hiring a managed service provider, you can reduce large capital spending that comes with running an in-house team, and can also save on licensing, training, consulting and emergency expenditures.
- Managed service providers can help your business put in place advanced security strategies that will greatly reduce the chances of your business falling victim to data breaches, malware and cyberattacks of all kinds.
- With managed services, you get proactive solutions with a team of experts that are consistently monitoring your systems, helping to identify and eliminate issues before they escalate into large-scale problems.
- Managed service providers are well-versed in all formalities and legal requirements that businesses have to follow, and can help ensure that you are in compliance with legal acts and obligations.
- Arguably the biggest advantage of hiring managed services is the expertise and experience they bring to the table. You get access to cutting-edge technology and top-notch IT administrators with years of industry experience in varying fields, who can help address most of your business problems all under one roof. This saves you the trouble of having to sift through hundreds of administrators and finding one who best suits your purpose.
- Managed services also allow your business to have a faster response time. Having a 24/7 support system is extremely necessary to ensure your business stays productive, meets deadlines and doesn’t fall behind, and managed service providers can help you do exactly that.
Signs Your Business Might Need To Hire A MSP
If you’re confused about whether your business might need an MSP’s support, here are some tell-tale signs that it is high time your business outsource some of its IT needs.
- You have recently been hacked, and are on the lookout for experienced cybersecurity personnel to help implement additional, updated security measures.
- You have been relying on a pay-as-you-go, reactive IT model and your IT costs are getting out of hand.
- You have limited, inexperienced IT staff and cannot afford to retain expert personnel on a long term basis.
- Your business has largely shifted to remote working in the pandemic, and you require additional support for remote workers.
- Your business is in the strategic growth mode where clearly identifying and mitigating risks is vital for your success.
- You need dedicated help desk support to improve your response times.
- You are out of regulatory compliance and need expert advice and help in following obligatory guidelines.
- You are looking to implement newer, advanced security policies.
- You simply need some additional support to keep your business running and to afford yourself and your employees some much-needed peace of mind.
Some Basic Questions To Get You Started
Now that we’ve established why MSPs are important and how they can serve your business, let’s delve into how you should go about hiring one for your company. With hundreds of services out there all claiming to be the best, it can be tough filtering through them all and deciding which partner is most equipped to meet your business’s unique needs. Below are some simple questions that can help you evaluate an MSP’s strengths and determine if they are right for your business.
- What is your area of expertise?
- What are your core company values?
- What’s your typical response time?
- What kind of IT support services do you offer?
- What is your uptime guarantee?
- What security solutions can you offer?
- How can you help with reducing IT costs?
- What are your charges/ payment plans?
- What are your backup plans/ policies for emergency situations?
- How do your services evolve to implement newer strategies and technologies?
While these questions can help you get the basic gist of where the service provider stands, there are other factors that you must carefully consider before sealing the deal. We’ve discussed these in more detail below.
Factors To Consider Before Hiring A MSP
Not sure what you should be looking for when evaluating prospective providers? Below is a comprehensive list of all the make-or-break factors that can help you make your decision.
Technical Expertise & Certifications
Assessing your provider’s technical expertise is an absolute must. Ask about their partnerships and any additional qualifications that can help you get an idea of how skilled their staff is. This will also let you know what the company’s weaknesses are, and if those lacking areas are something your business can afford to compromise.
Even if the provider is claiming that they are always willing to face new challenges and expand to newer sectors, partnering with such a provider may be a risk on your part. All business needs are not the same, and it’s important that the service you hire has significant previous experience dealing with businesses in your industry. Industry experience ensures that the provider will be well aware of possible risks and will know how to navigate around them, and will also be well-versed on your expected operational needs.
Reputation, Portfolio & Testimonials
References can go a long way in letting you know if the provider is truly equipped to help your business. It’s vital to understand the MSP’s portfolio, previous clientele and market presence, as this helps in assessing their capabilities and gives you the confidence you need to secure your partnership with them.
Potential for Longevity
If you find the right MSP, chances are that you’ll be working with them for as long as your company is in business. This makes it important to verify whether they are up for a long-term partnership too, as it can be a lot of trouble shifting providers once you’ve already settled down with one. You don’t want to hire a provider that’s on the brink of bankruptcy, so make sure you ask for financial statements, check references and ask open questions about the provider’s current business status.
Insurance is something you must absolutely never overlook. Make sure the MSP you work with is properly insured so that any mistakes on their part can easily be covered.
This factor will be entirely dependent on your company’s needs. If, for example, in-house services are necessary for your business, be sure to ask whether the MSP is available for them.
A company’s integrity can be judged by the way they shape their billing contracts. Try and avoid working with providers that strictly charge by the hour with no flexibility offered. Providers who charge pre-decided flat fees for certain tasks are generally a better option, and they are likely to perform the job faster and correctly the first time around.
Be sure to inquire whether the service provider handles all tasks in-house or whether they outsource some services. Try and figure out which one works better for your company’s needs and make sure to leave no questions unanswered.
An efficient managed service provider will always be ready with an estimate of their general response times whenever asked and will take pride in their answer. Asking this question is essential as it will help you get an idea of how long it will take them to solve any issue that arises in the future, and whether the provider is truly always available to help you.
If the managed service provider does not outsource any services, make sure to enquire about their staffing levels. How many personnel do they have? What are their areas of expertise and skill levels? Determining the answer to these questions beforehand will let you know if the company has enough expert personnel to handle your business.
Hiring the wrong service provider can lead to poor communication, network downtime, missed deadlines and general dissatisfaction. Remember, the MSP you partner with will be handling the core of your business’s IT tasks- and one bad apple can cost your business a great deal. Therefore, it is extremely vital that you keep the above-discussed factors in mind, and take your time to thoroughly evaluate the provider, assess their charging plans, weigh all pros and cons and then determine whether you should work with them.
The Search Is Over
Is your staff drowning amidst technical problems they can’t possibly solve on their own? Are you searching for a reliable company to handle the bulk of your IT needs? Well, look no further!
Mpire Solutions offers highly customized services and tailor-made solutions to address all your tech needs. With our years of industry experience, expert and innovative team, and the latest technologies all under our belt, contact Mpire today to kick-start the journey to turning your business around!
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