While as a business owner or decision-maker in your business, you might not have the time to conduct thorough research on Managed Service providers (MSPs) near you, itâ€™s a good idea that someone does, and does it thoroughly, as this is a company that will be maintaining your IT systems and working with you for years to come.
Youâ€™re going to want to know exactly who youâ€™re working with, such as their service and their features, as well as how these features benefit you.
When passing on the task to someone, make sure you give them a list of exactly what youâ€™re after, whether that be working with local providers only, whether you need 24/7 support and whether they are knowledgeable in the systems you use to run your business.
From there, youâ€™re going to want to find out what sets them apart from others. This might not be any specific feature, as MSPs generally offer the same package, but there will often be something. Keep in mind that there are features that some providers will advertise boldly that all MSPs have, such as that theyâ€™re Microsoft Certified. Some will also feature an â€˜awardâ€™ on their homepage, but this often isnâ€™t a nationally given award, simply one given by someone or a business in the industry who has done a thorough review of all MSAs. Theyâ€™re a good indication itâ€™s a great MSP, but keep in mind that itâ€™s generally not a regulated award.
A feature that might separate an MSP from others could be that they specialise in Cyber Security, as many MSPs only have limited Cyber Security measures in place and require your business to work with a separate company for those issues. Security and Cyber Security are two separate topics and many businesses confuse them as the same. Security mainly focuses on virus protection and firewalls, whereas Cyber Security digs deeper with Two-Factor Authentication and surveillance systems, among other things. With Cyber Security constantly evolving, your business must be up-to-date on the latest trends and practices in the field.
Itâ€™s also important that the MSP youâ€™re searching for is knowledgeable in your industry and your systems. While they wonâ€™t be experts in your systems, such as in SAP or Microsoft Dynamics, they should be familiar with them so that they can be the middle-man between the vendor and your company when something goes wrong with the system. You cannot expect the MSP to configure the entire system to your business though, thatâ€™s the role of the software vendor and, unfortunately, an expensive role. The MSP should be used to working with clients of your size too, as working with a large MSP as a smaller business, you might find that youâ€™re pushed aside in favour of their larger, more profitable clients.
Once you know what you want from an MSP, itâ€™s time to do some market research.
During a conversation with a client, we started talking about how to find a company that you can trust and they said:
â€œLike most things, you go by recommendation. That’s always the first one. So, if you can’t go by recommendation, then you want to go by, â€˜Whoâ€™s this company dealing with and what are they saying?â€™â€
If youâ€™re recommended an MSP, thatâ€™s always a great start, but when youâ€™re not, itâ€™s hard to find out who to trust, especially with possible fake reviews online. That being said, the place to start with is reviews as you can generally tell through reading when a review has been manufactured. Read what you can find on Google and CloudTango and then read through the companyâ€™s reviews and comments on their social media pages like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. An MSP will often have case studies or client reviews on its website to give proof of its track record too, so the clients can give you an understanding of what to expect. If you like, feel free to give the company a call to learn about their experience with the MSP.
Join Facebook, Reddit and Discord groups to see what people are saying about the MSP as well as who they are recommending in your area. While not always the case when it comes to business, many people donâ€™t let their full opinions known about a product or service. Itâ€™s only when theyâ€™re anonymous or feeling comfortable that they can reveal their deeper inconveniences or desires, so browsing forum groups will often tell you these opinions. Even search on Quora or read through blog posts about the pros and cons of certain MSPs so that youâ€™re adequately informed before you make your decision.
Once you have settled on a few MSPs to sit down with, you should have a list of questions to ask them that will help you narrow down your choice. Weâ€™ve written an article about questions to ask when switching IT service providers, so have a read of that to get an idea of some questions. Find the article here. The post also details what to look for when searching for an MSP, such as responsiveness, proactivity and communication.
We hope this has given you an understanding of where to start when searching for an MSP for your business. It can be an incredibly daunting and frustrating process, as well as one that you probably donâ€™t have time for. By now, though, you should know why itâ€™s crucial to have a good MSP working with your business because as your business grows, so does your IT, and that IT needs to be managed efficiently. Feel free to read through the other blog posts on our website to learn of the risks posed to your business if your systems are not managed sufficiently as that might be just the push you need to get started in your search.