Three Things to Look for When Choosing a Managed Service Provider

If you’re like a lot of CIOs and IT managers in the rapidly-changing field of IT, you’ve probably considered freeing up your team’s resources by adding an MSP into the mix. In many cases, businesses turn to MSPs to take the pressure off their IT staff so they can focus on more strategic projects, and those projects are often focused on helping the company grow. There are countless MSPs to choose from, all offering innovative solutions to lessen the load on your teams. But how to choose the right one? Despite competitive pricing, the temptation to go for the cheapest may not be the best decision.  

It is more important the MSP you select understands your business and is able to support your long term goals. Although cost is by no means irrelevant, MSPs that can act as a partner and focus on helping you achieve real business outcomes will hold you in good stead as you grow your business.  

CIOs, IT directors and managers, are in a position to select the best MSP based on how they will help the business they serve, and in doing so shift their sole basis of decision-making away from cost. So, what areas should you be considering when choosing between MSPs?

To help guide you through this decision here are three elements to think about when comparing MSPs, and how they can best support your business;

1. Making The Most of the Cloud

As more businesses turn to the cloud to fill gaps in their IT infrastructure, software, and more, they’ll need an MSP that can seamlessly handle all of their networking needs and provide or integrate with third-party services themselves.

This includes customer support services, such as chatbots that handle customer support and product orders. Gartner estimates that 85 per cent of customer interactions will take place without a person ever being involved by the year 2020. 

As you go through the selection process, consider where the MSP can showcase their capabilities in the cloud through talking through the technology they use and why; as well as how it supports specific networking needs. Ask them how they have used it before and where they have encountered issues. 

2. Automation and Machine Learning

Along with the cloud, automation and machine learning are transforming how businesses interact with their customers and close sales. Some reports estimate that AI will give businesses a 38 per cent increase in profit and generate close to £11.5 trillion pounds by 2035. 

AI will also change how people work, handling tasks that are otherwise time-consuming and drain staff resource, this includes research and network management. Machines can carry out tasks more efficiently and with less risk, minimising, errors that can lead to lost productivity and sales. 

As you evaluate an MSP, ask about how they plan to provide support for automation and machine learning, whether it’s through their services or supporting the services you want to use. Consider how you will work together to achieve the best results. 

3. Contributing Expertise

As your business pushes forward, the true value of your MSP will not be measured on how many outages they prevent but instead focus on how much they enable your success. In order to achieve this with your MSP, it means involving them in business strategy. 

You could—and maybe even should—invite someone from your MSP to join you in higher-level marketing and sales meetings, so that they become familiar with the goals your business has set and how best their services can support these.  

An MSP for the Future 

A successful partnership depends on the MSPs that can capitalise on bringing together the best solutions and align strategies with you to empower your business. Lower tier MSPs do not want to get left behind, and can often offer ‘anything you want’ just to make a sale. The proof is in how they advise you, understand what they are selling and ultimately how they execute their services. 
It is vital as a key decision-maker that you understand what you want from your MSP, and choose a provider that is in a position to support your business. Getting it right will involve asking more informed questions, considering how MSPs can contribute and fold into your business strategy and be a part of planning. In short, prioritise the business relationship and where you could go with your MSP rather than how much you can save by hiring the cheapest option and simply preventing an outage. 

Let us know what you’re looking to achieve as a business and we’ll let you know how we can help.

Neil Patel, Director European Marketing and Business Development

A highly-regarded voice in the networking industry, Neil Patel has spearheaded D-Link's European Marketing and Business Development for nearly a decade.