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IT MSP 101: Key Considerations for Selecting a Managed Services Provider

criteria for selecting a managed services provider

There’s a lot more that goes into selecting an IT managed services provider (MSP) than just price. In fact, it’s one of the most essential decisions your business will make.

Whether you need an MSP to act as your sole IT function or to augment your internal team, it’s critical to do your due diligence and ensure a potential MSP possesses not only the qualities you require today, but also those you’ll need as your business grows and evolves over time.

While not a comprehensive list, here are several critical factors to explore as part of your managed services provider evaluation process.

Deep Services Portfolio

With crucial reliance on technology to power operations, mitigate risk and enable efficiency, modern businesses and nonprofit organizations need an experienced managed services provider that can do more for you than keep the lights on. In particular, you should look for an MSP with strong cybersecurity expertise to help you monitor, prevent and respond to increasingly stealthy cyber threats. A growing number of MSPs also identify as MSSPs (managed security services providers), which adds an additional layer of credibility and often means access to deeper and more advanced security toolsets such as security information and event management (SIEM) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) technology.

Flexibility & Scalability

If there’s one thing the COVID pandemic taught us, it’s the importance of agility. Without knowing what tomorrow may bring, you’ll want to set your business up for success by selecting an MSP whose services deliver ultimate flexibility to meet your changing needs over time. While many cloud-based IT services are inherently scalable and fluctuate based on capacity needs (users, storage, resources, etc.), you’ll want to fully understand what’s includes in your services packages and the level to which they are customizable.

Industry Expertise

Each industry or vertical has its own nuances and needs, so consider how your MSP caters to yours with specific and proven expertise. Do they understand the specific compliance demands of government organizations and law enforcement agencies? Have they worked with multi-location healthcare organizations to streamline risk management? Can they accommodate the unique performance requirements of financial services and investment firms? During the evaluation phase, be sure to inquire about industry or vertical expertise and highlight any unique or specific requirements you may be looking for within your IT services package.

Proactive Methodology

Managed services functions include a lot more than basic IT maintenance and break-fix solutions. To help support your future evolution, look for an MSP that demonstrates a proactive approach to technology and will work with you to develop and implement strategic IT plans that help you achieve your business goals – not just your technology goals.

Technology Innovation

In addition to being proactive and anticipating the future, what you should really look for in an IT services provider is one who wants to be part of creating the future. If your MSP is constantly playing catchup, that’s not a good sign. Technology should be an enabler for your firm, and your MSP should be eager and willing to help solve your business and IT challenges by bringing new products and services into the fold. Don’t be afraid to ask them what’s on the horizon; if they don’t have much to say, that may be all you really need to know.

Service Level Agreements

Of course, when you’re outsourcing all or part of your technology function, the ultimate test of success is service. A critical aspect of your service provider due diligence should include evaluating a potential MSP’s service level agreements (SLAs). At a minimum, you’ll want assurances on network and infrastructure availability, uptime guarantees and response times in the event technical support is needed. Review these closely with your team to ensure they meet your expectations and are aligned with the requirements your business needs to remain operational.

Commitment to Compliance

Growing regulatory pressure from government organizations, insurance agencies and other regulatory bodies is turning compliance into a critical business responsibility. Be sure to understand the extent to which your MSP or potential MSP embeds compliance into their managed services functions. SOC 2 compliance is an important need for service organizations who rely on cloud infrastructure to host their environments. Depending on your industry or vertical, you may have other regulatory requirements to meet and will need to understand if your IT services can support your regulatory compliance or not.

Why Omega Systems?

Whether you’re looking for your first MSP or considering a move away from your current provider, it’s important to identify a partner who’s committed to helping your business do more than solve technology challenges. Omega Systems’ managed services are designed to drive value for the whole of your organization, and we’re eager to work with you to develop and implement solutions that help you grow, evolve and achieve your business outcomes. When you’re ready to talk, we’re here to listen.

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