You might not be able to afford a full-time IT guy, and in many cases, you don’t need one. That’s what MSPs – managed service providers – are all about, after all. However, just because they are more affordable than an IT guy doesn’t mean you just want to pick one and go with it. Choosing one with which you can maintain a long-term relationship is essential to running your business smoothly, so making that decision should take some time. Here are a few things you should consider to make it a little easier on yourself.
Find an MSP With Transparent Policies
The last thing you need is hidden fees, weird contract clauses, and half-truths coming from someone who is going to know your computer systems intimately. Sometimes, your chosen MSP may decide that working on a problem remotely is a good thing to do, and that involves taking down walls you usually keep up to keep any security breaches from happening, so knowing exactly what the company is going to do while they’re there is important. The MSP should be able to provide documentation that is understandable by any normal human being about what they are doing that day, even if it is a little technical. Any documentation should clearly state the problem, what’s being done about it, and how long it should take. This allows everyone to be on the same page at the same time, which is valuable to your company.
Productivity Over Money
While it’s true that you shouldn’t be looking for a company that does everything “on the cheap,” and you shouldn’t focus on the hourly cost as much as some people do, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of it. Simply put, an MSP shouldn’t be around all of the time. Sometimes they will be around for a few days in a row, and then they should be gone. Their goal should not be to rack up billable hours, and even if you shouldn’t worry so much about how many hours are being billed, you should ensure they aren’t robbing you. An MSP’s job isn’t to put out fires: it’s to prevent fires before they become a problem so they don’t have to bill you for an issue they could have solved. If they’re doing that and being productive, then that’s a company you want to work with – even if they do have a higher hourly rate than the MSP next to them.
Some MSPs are all about the value, and those are the ones you should hire. While they are around, they should be telling you about and then enacting backup systems. In many cases of hardware failure and other technical issues, there can be an “automatic response” to that issue, even if it’s just a ticket being sent to the MSP so you don’t have to call. These types of responses should be almost invisible to the public and should include a variety of response plans and recovery strategies. Those results should also be measurable, either in productivity or operational costs, both of which translate into more profit for your business.
When you can’t rely on in-house IT, your MSP is going to have to be a transparent, valuable resource that you should be able to trust with every aspect with your business. Choosing wisely will benefit you much more in the long run.