For many small or medium sized businesses, as well as emerging start-ups that do not have the capacity to manage their own Information Technology Infrastructure, a Managed Service Provider is a great solution. An MSP (Managed Service Provider) is a third-party company that remotely manages a company’s IT infrastructures and performs day-to-day management services. With so many MSPs globally available today, it is important for a business to first consider some critical questions before choosing the right MSP to partner with.
1. At what point should your services be managed by an MSP rather than in-house?
The first step is to determine what services are actually worth managing by a third-party. If a company has less than ten computer users, it may actually be more cost-effective to do all services in-house. However, if a company is scaling and has over two hundred end users and is still in the process of growing, most services should be managed by an MSP to enhance productivity and cost-effectiveness for the business.
2. What competitive advantage does the MSP offer?
What differentiates the Managed Service Provider that you are considering? Is it their extremely well reviewed customer service and 24-hour support, or the low cost? Or is the MSP more costly but more committed to the latest technological upgrades and constant improvement? Companies should determine what is most important to them at their stage of growth and choose an MSP according to that specific competitive advantage.
3. Does the MSP offer after-hours or onsite support in the case of an emergency?
Depending on where your company is located globally, natural disasters could be a serious risk for your IT infrastructure. Your company could also be a victim of a data breach. No matter what the worst-case scenario is for your business, it is a huge bonus for the Managed Service Provider to offer immediate and onsite support at all times in case of any emergencies. If your company is in an area more at risk of a natural disaster, it is important to determine which providers include on-site support as some only offer remote guidance.
4. Does the MSP offer an all-inclusive support plan?
An All-Inclusive support plan works out to the benefit of both parties; the MSP and the company using their services. A flat-fee arrangement motivates the MSP to perform quickly, whereas an hourly billing service may not be ideal for a starting company strapped for cash.
Make sure you are fully aware of what is included in the all-inclusive service plan. Some examples of services to look for include:
- Backup management
- Internet and data connectivity
- Malware, spyware and virus infection management
- Onsite support
- Mobile devices and PCs
- Major disaster support
- Infrastructure upgrades
Choosing a Managed Service Provider is an exciting step to take, but one not to take lightly. The right provider can tremendously help your business improve technological efficiency. It is important for any company no matter how small or big to do proper research and consider the above essentials to make an informed decision.
By: Joanna Ambros, MBA