Choosing a managed service provider (an external IT support team) is a very important decision. It’s not a decision you should make lightly, and certainly not based on one element (price, proximity, range of services, etc) alone. Prior to calling up your local service providers, have a meeting with your leadership team and determine what you need and expect out of a managed service provider. Go over this list with them. Ask these questions of the managed service providers you meet with. Once you’re prepared, making the choice will be easy.
- How much support do I need? Most MSPs will provide a range of support options. Does your business only run Monday through Friday, 9-5? Does your company run 24 hours a day? Do you have remote users from different time zones that may need support?
- What services are important to me? Outside of the obvious like Help Desk support, antivirus software, and monitoring of your network, what other services will you need? Will you need a technician on location at your business every week, or will remote support suffice? Are you subject to mandated compliances like HIPAA or PCI?
- Are the staff skilled and certified? IT support takes specialized knowledge, and the right MSP will require their technical staff to hold industry certifications. There should be multiple technicians on staff with the skills to support your business so resolutions to your issues are quick and simple.
- What is your budget? The average small business will pay anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 a month on managed services. Most MSPs provide flexible and scalable packages. The right MSP will be able to tailor a solution to fit your needs – both in budget and in services.
- Do they understand my industry? Any MSP will tell you they can support your small business, but they won’t be able to do as well as an MSP that knows and already supports businesses in your industry. Ask questions! Make sure the MSP can handle your software, your workflow, and knows what improvements can be made to help you streamline your processes.
- Will the MSP provide constant communication with you? Nothing is worse than having an issue and having to repeatedly call your MSP wanting an update on the resolution. The right MSP will be in constant contact with you, during every step of the process. Plus, they’ll speak to you in terms you understand – no technical mumbo-jumbo.
- Do they have customer references and testimonials? Only the best MSPs will be ready and willing to hand off testimonials from dozens of their clients and will give you as many references as you’d like. Be sure to check their websites, too, because some MSPs will list testimonials there, as well.
If you do your planning and research ahead of time, you’ll be thankful for it later. Take your time, because the right choice will make a world of a difference. You’ll be able to maximize your investment in IT support and services which will help you accomplish your business goals.