If you’re a company CEO, office manager, Administrator of Information Systems, or the employee who’s been given the task of finding IT services providers that could work for your business, chances are you ask around. Get some referrals. Do some research. Notice an ad in an industry publication. Consult with Google.
Then you check out their website…visit a few pages, see if they seem to have what it takes to serve your IT needs. Maybe you contact a few of them and wait to hear back.
Searching for a managed services provider isn’t an easy task, especially because there are a lot of companies out there who claim to be Managed Service Providers. But if they also offer about 40 other products, solutions, and services, are they any good at managed services? How do you know who to go with?
Beyond referrals and knowing you want a managed service provider, there are 6 keys to finding your perfect MSP fit:
1. Company size
When you begin to talk with an MSP, find out the average size of their clients, and also consider the number of employees they have. Do they have only 5 or 10 tech staff, and if so, can they really help a client like you and provide the level of service you need? It might turn out that you’re a good fit despite being a bit larger or smaller than the MSP’s ‘typical’ client size, but it can be a good indicator of what to expect.
2. Scope of services desired/technical fit
If you’re looking for a managed services provider, you’re probably looking for full IT infrastructure support including network, security, servers, endpoints, and Help Desk support. But beyond that, do you have any specific services that are a priority for you? Are there specific technology areas that are causing you more pain than others (e.g., slow network, excessive downtime…)? Share these vital concerns early so that you and the MSP can decide mutually whether it’s good to continue the conversation.3. Budget
Cost shouldn’t be like the elephant in the room, because it is an important indicator of fit. As much as salespeople would love to talk with you about becoming a client, it’s a waste of everybody’s time if your budget is $800 a month, and you're talking with a larger MSP whose deals typically run at $5,000 a month. Now, if your technology needs align better with a $5,000 spend and you want that level of service for $800 a month, perhaps start with an internal strategic meeting on technology budgeting.4. Philosophical/cultural fit
Reputable MSPs typically have a distinct culture…a philosophy that has driven their success. You should be able to pick out what the MSP excels at quickly and whether it aligns with your company’s desires. If your company has struggled in the past with changes in processes, constant turnover with IT staff, or lack of consistency, perhaps a managed service provider that prides itself on their tools, processes, and methods would be the perfect fit for you. Ultimately as you’re having conversations, ask yourself “Would you want to do business with this provider?”5. Contractual requirements
If you’re unhappy with your current MSP and want to search for another provider, it’s important to know whether you’re under contract with your current provider and for how long (and if there’s an “out clause”). If your contract expires, say in 6 months however, it’s still good to begin early and plan for the transition.6. Time frame
Many companies have a time frame in mind dictated by an immediate need, annual operating budget constraints, etc. Some will take a while to make a decision simply because an internal committee needs to come to a consensus on their chosen managed service provider. Be sure to communicate your thoughts on time frame to come to a decision, and if there are other factors that will impact your decision. Reputable MSPs who want your business will stay abreast of your time frame and provide any information you need along the way that will HELP you make your decision…the one that will be best for your company.
It’s all about fit, folks. Choosing a managed service provider is a big piece of the technology pie. Your IT is a long-term investment, so it’s best to make your decision in a thoughtful, prudent way.
For another helpful resource, download our Choosing an IT Provider Checklist.