What to look for in a managed services provider

What to look for in a managed services provider

An increasing number of small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are turning to managed services providers (MSPs) for their IT and technology needs because of the scale of service possible on such an affordable subscription model. This has also resulted in numerous MSPs trying to capitalize on a still-growing market.

Since no two MSPs are alike, it can be easy to unwittingly partner with one that doesn’t have the ability to stay abreast of your business growth. While many MSPs offer scalable and flexible services, you still need to consider factors such as their internal management, protocols, policies, and the like before selecting one.

Before you choose an IT partner, check if they are able to satisfy this checklist:

Do they offer 24/7/365 support?

Most in-house IT technicians work during the day, which can be an issue for businesses because tech problems don’t just happen during office hours. Servers, computers, and other hardware typically run on a perpetual basis, leaving companies that don’t have round-the-clock IT monitoring with a glaring gap in their coverage. This is primarily why many SMBs partner with an MSP — to ensure that all bases are covered.

The majority of MSPs today offer 24/7/365 support, but it’s always smart to check on their specific coverage deals, And when you do partner with one, make sure they put that in writing.

Do they work with service level objectives?

Service level objectives or SLOs are defined measurable service responses with specific enforced time frames. A reasonable SLO also defines the process and time frame for escalating issues that require advanced expertise. Get an MSP that clearly defines SLOs for their clients.

Be wary of MSPs that offer “best effort” service, and respond to your issues without properly designing and planning on service delivery. These MSPs tend to provide short-term and therefore unsustainable solutions that often cost more and take more time to resolve.

Do they employ a single point of accountability?

Good MSPs assign their clients a single point of accountability (SPA) that ensures all specialized technology providers offer solutions in unison. Without an SPA in place, vendors may end up blaming one another for issues, leaving you with no satisfying solutions. Having an SPA ensures all vendors are held accountable for their responsibilities and commitments.

Ask your MSP about their vendor management program, as well as their courses of action in cases of vendor altercations. You’ll want an MSP that adopts an SPA approach to bring vendors to the table and ensure a resolution.

Do they have a qualified talent pool?

A good MSP should have certified technicians with a broad range of skills and experience that overlap one another. Providers that invest in the development of their talent pool will surely happily discuss how good their technicians are. Be wary of MSPs that try to avoid the topic, as they likely don’t have the talent pool to match their promotional efforts.

Do they have an organized ticketing system?

Lastly, check to see whether your MSP deploys a ticketing system, a secure and organized way to track system issues. A poorly designed and/or poorly managed one often results in clients not getting the service they need within the prescribed time frame.

Request a ticketing demonstration from your prospective MSP to see how your ticket progresses through the system. A well-managed and well-designed system should allow you to submit a ticket and automate workflow for triage, prioritization, scheduling, and escalation. Their ticketing system is a reflection of how well they communicate and work together internally, so always keep an eye out for red flags such as lack of response from your current IT provider.

WhiteOwl is at the forefront of digital transformation in South Florida. We provide enterprise resource planning, customer resource management, business process automation, software development and integrations, and network and technology infrastructure solutions. Contact us today to learn more.

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