he process of selecting an IT managed service provider (MSP) for your company can be daunting. Not every candidate will fit your needs, and it can be difficult to determine what those needs are. However, there are some key qualifications you can look for when identifying the best IT fit for your business. Employing the right strategy in your search can aid in the success of both your company, and employees, as your organization continues to evolve. It’s important to examine the internal processes of your firm, and how a managed IT services provider can contribute to the culture of your operation and business as a whole.
“As a business owner, you should try to select a provider that is similar in operational maturity. If sophistication level of processes and procedures don’t match between the firms, there will likely be friction throughout the relationship.”-Bryan Gregory (President of Aldridge)
Longevity and stability
The length of time an IT services provider has been in the industry may not always guarantee premium partnership, but it generally ensures they are well established and capable of maintaining the stability of their organization, and yours. An MSP who has been in the field for a number of years likely offers financial security, a reputable pool of resources, and certified, knowledgeable staff.
Communication and personalized service
Choosing an MSP who endeavors to understand your industry and goals is imperative. An effective MSP will perform an IT environment assessment to identify areas in need of improvement, as well as chart trajectories to achieve these ends. The IT services provider should have an outlined new client on-boarding process, which not only collects the technical information about your institution, but involves meeting with your company and familiarizing themselves with your operations and business goals.
Your IT company should also perform a periodic business review, in which an evaluation of your services is considered along with an investigation of how your business goals could affect your IT decisions in the near and distant future to enable better budgeting and IT planning. Be sure to consider the MSP’s ability to encompass both the current and projected scale of your company to ensure your business does not outgrow theirs.
Proactive Planning and Transparency
Remote system monitoring, 24/7 availability, and an arrangement for hands-on tech support are basic components of any modern IT services provider. However, even more noteworthy and where the true partnership lies, is the IT company’s ability to develop a proactive strategy that will prevent the need for incident remediation and minimize costly downtime while reducing recurring problems. The real value comes from an MSP who works with you to generate a plan of action in IT that matches your plans for the business, as well as establishes and manages to a specific IT budget.
Many firms make the mistake of focusing on response promptness when outsourcing their IT department, but does the MSP have a guaranteed resolution period? Your IT services provider should be capable of resolving issues in a fixed amount of time— established in the contracted Service Level Agreement— and offer suitable compensation if they fail to meet the agreed upon standards.
Vendor Relationships and Management
Your managed IT services provider should act as the middleman between you and the vendors that provide other technology services to your business (Internet, Hosted Applications, etc.). If your MSP handles vendor issues, it saves your company from losing valuable time handling problems, such as delayed equipment delivery and communication silos, which can inhibit your workflow and growth, and cost you money.
Reputation and References
The above features are helpful in finding a suitable fit for your IT needs, but client reviews are essential to determining the reliability and transparency of the suppliers you’re considering. Take into account the MSP’s record of client retention, as well as the nature and size of the businesses they manage. Ask companies similar to your own for their recommendations, and request references and success metrics from potential candidates.
Here at Aldridge, we offer a variety of services to fit your IT needs and work with your business to best determine how to achieve your goals. Contact a firm principle today, and begin helping your business work smarter.