3 questions that reveal if an MSP is right for you

 In Professional Services, Solutions

Back when managed service providers (MSPs) competed on price, choosing the best option was fairly simple – it was all economics.

But now many organizations are looking for more. Price has taken a back seat to customer service and the overall support model. Companies want an MSP that can become a strategic partner, one they can go to for advice, forecasting, and help with initiatives, goals, and objectives.

That choice is only made harder by the industry’s impressive growth, which has brought a number of new market entrants. By at least one estimate of the global market, MSPs are expected to take in $230 billion each year by 2020. That’s a projected 10 percent growth rate.

If your company is planning on partnering with an MSP, finding the right one is as much about choosing a long-term ally as it is finding one for your current needs. It’s a good idea to cast a wide net in your search, and to go slow when choosing a provider.

When you are in the process of selecting an MSP, some questions are more illuminating than others. Start by asking these three. The answers should help you narrow your list to the MPSs best able to serve you.

1. How flexible are your managed services offerings?

Every enterprise has different goals, initiatives, and strategies. Yet too many IT services companies offer one-size-fits-all solutions. A good MSP will be able to tailor its services to suit your needs and adapt to changes as your business grows and matures.

Look for MSPs that can offer services for short- and long-term projects, a la carte, or in a bundle. By using a firm with flexible offerings, you can test the water, slowly increasing the workload. If you have specific security needs that require additional attention, such as HIPAA compliance in the health care space or background checks on employees dealing with sensitive information, providers with a greater degree of flexibility are far more likely to meet your needs.

2. Does your company provide a dedicated account management team?

An account manager or program manager is crucial in building a long-term business relationship. Having a management resource improves communication and minimizes the risk of having to continually re-educate your service provider on your business, goals, and plans.

Talk to vendors about their staffing levels – it’s not unusual for vendors to provide on-site account managers and project managers that oversee the entire contract or specific divisions. Having a resource dedicated to you ensures a fast response that aligns with your short- and long-term business objectives.

3. What key partner relationships does your company have with OEMs and leading brands?

Even if you don’t initially use an MSP for procurement, that might change. Technology evolves rapidly, and it’s easy to fall behind the curve. An MSP should have strong relationships with major OEMs and leading brands, which could translate to better overall pricing and faster troubleshooting for you.

It’s also a strong indication that the MSP has a relevant understanding of the IT channels that you rely on – if, for example, your company uses Dell laptops, find the MSPs that have a stronger relationship with that device maker.

Vetting a new MSP is the beginning of a long conversation, and a long relationship. The answers to these three questions are a great starting point – a way to find out if you are comfortable with the provider’s offerings and its level of service. From there, your questions will likely get more specific to your organization. But by starting with these, you’ll know which candidates are your best options for a long-term partner.

Have other questions about choosing an MSP? Contact your SHI Account Executive to make sure you’re on the right track.

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