Hiring a managed service provider (MSP) to handle your company’s IT needs can be a great way to save money and get a better level of service than most small companies can afford with an in-house IT staff. A managed services provider will let you spend less time worrying about the day-to-day of keeping your technology secure and in top shape, and let you focus on things that directly drive your revenue. Hiring a managed services provider can seem tricky, though, and many businesses are paralyzed by concerns over reliability, security, cost, and other factors. The process doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated, however! In fact, it can be a pleasant experience that starts you down the road to a successful and beneficial relationship. Here’s how:
Talk to other business owners in your area. Especially ones that have been operating for a while. As with many business decisions, your best resource is often the business community in your area, and they can help steer you towards a reputable MSP. Don’t stop at one recommendation: get several so you can compare them later.
Treat the Process Like a New Hire
Signing a managed services contract is very much like hiring a new employee. Treat the search for a provider with all the rigor that you would a hiring decision. Invite an owner or representative of the companies you’re considering to an interview so you can get a feel for what working with them will be like. In fact, talk to several people from each potential candidate, to really understand how they work and whether they work for you.
Always Check References
A reputable MSP will have absolutely no reservations about providing you with references and letting you talk to past and current clients. Don’t take their word, or testimonials on their website, as the be all and end all. Ask for references that are similar in size and structure to your company, and also look at references from companies that are where you want to be in the future. This will help you be sure that not only is this choice right for you now, it will stay right into the foreseeable future.
Evaluate the Company, Not the Sales Rep
Remember, you’re not hiring a sales representative or account manager, you’re hiring a managed services provider. Don’t base your decision on how friendly or professional a sales representative or account manager acted. Instead, compare the relevant factors: service level agreements, terms, prices, the knowledgeability of the staff, and response times.