At the current pace of innovation, technology evolves fast, increasingly becoming more sophisticated and valuable at the same time. Despite this ever-growing complexity, modern businesses still need to leverage technology in order to stay competitive and thrive. In a recent survey, 85 percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) confirmed tech’s importance in business performance.
Traditionally, an in-house IT department has always been the go-to solution for supporting enterprise-level digital infrastructures. But nowadays, even that isn’t cutting it. For one, retaining an IT team is becoming way too expensive; that is if you can find qualified candidates to hire in the first place. The average IT specialist annual base salary in Canada is a whopping C$62,131, without counting employee welfare expenses. Second, most internal IT departments simply can’t keep up with technical innovations and challenges. Clearly, this is not a sustainable tech support approach for companies with ambitious IT goals.
Many organizations are now turning to managed services to meet their unique IT requirements. IT outsourcing has evolved to an all-rounded solution where you only need one service provider to cover the entire IT infrastructure. This makes IT partnerships vital in maintaining technical and business performance. The big question is, how to choose a managed service provider (MSP)?
Hiring the right IT partner for any business is a weighty decision. Here are some important factors to consider when making your pick:
The MSP’s offerings and service scope
Managed IT is not a one-size-fits-all kind of solution. Every enterprise has unique IT requirements hinging on the underlying business model and goals. Similarly, not all MSPs offer the same services; some focus on particular IT fields and narrowly target specific business setups.
What exactly do you need from a managed IT provider? Assess your IT infrastructure and identify gaps, weaknesses, and areas needing improvements while factoring in your short-term and long-term IT goals. From there, find an MSP capable of meeting all those demands.
Understand the SLA
A service-level agreement (SLA) describes the MSP’s role and responsibilities as your IT partner. It also covers details about warranties, legal liabilities, your duties as the client, indemnity, performance and success metrics, work policies, pricing, auto-renewal, and procedures for contract termination. The SLA basically defines the terms and conditions of the MSP partnership.
Take your time to read every word of the SLA document to fully comprehend what you’re getting into.
Relevance to your business
An MSP should be much more than just an IT repair and maintenance services provider. Look for a forward-thinking MSP with a proactive approach to IT support. You need one that can help your business grow, not just survive.
Besides ensuring that all systems run smoothly, the MSP must also be able to identify issues with IT performance, costs, security, and efficiency and make actionable recommendations. In other words, a managed partner should help mould your IT investments to align with the brand’s mission objectives.
Ask the managed services provider about their on-site and off-site availability. Site visits are important if you feel the need for regular face-to-face consultations and hands-on assistance. But either way, an MSP should be available on call 24/7. And even with frequent site visits, they must guarantee round-the-clock IT monitoring.
24/7 monitoring helps spot early signs of imminent cyberattacks or critical systems’ failure. If detected early, such issues are quickly mitigated before they can cause damage.
Technical expertise, qualifications, and certifications
MSPs may have various levels of qualifications in the areas they specialize. Look beyond the front-cover marketing gimmicks and check what the MSP can actually do for your business. Certifications, licenses, and accreditations are all good indicators of an MSP’s capabilities and level of expertise in their respective field.
For instance, Microsoft awards Silver and Gold partnership certifications to MSPs that demonstrate exceptional service delivery. Softlanding is a certified Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold competencies, 2 Silver competencies and, 6 Advanced Specializations. This proves our skills and experience in helping businesses implement Microsoft-based enterprise solutions.
Work culture, practices, and professionalism
Every service provider has a code of conduct, best practices, and a level of professionalism that fundamentally define how they work and relate with clients. Look for an MSP that takes the time to study and understand your business to develop the most relevant and beneficial solutions. At the same time, you want an MSP that demonstrates admirable levels of professionalism, commitment, diligence, and tidiness in their work.
Credibility and references
It may not be easy to accurately judge an MSP’s professional character by looking at the service they provide or their certifications and qualifications. That’s where referrals, reviews, and endowments come in. If you want to determine whether a service provider is credible, dependable, and trustworthy, just ask their clients or look up online reviews and testimonials.
Many organizations are eager to share their experiences working with IT service providers, especially if the partnership was exceptionally rewarding or a downright waste of money. Peer referrals and reviews can give you valuable insights into the kind of business relationship you should expect with a specific managed services provider.
The right MSP can be instrumental in driving growth, cutting costs, and streamlining digital operations in your business. So, don’t take your chances with unproven service providers. Carry out extensive research and due diligence when choosing an IT partner. Make sure the MSP can deliver all the tools, services, and expertise needed to maintain, secure, and grow your IT infrastructure.
Your business is in capable hands with Softlanding’s managed IT services team. We’ve been in the IT business for over two decades, during which time we’ve earned Microsoft-certified Gold Partner status along with other appreciation awards and achievements. Get in touch and end your MSP search with Softlanding today.