Choosing the Right Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Deciding who to trust with the entire scope of your business’ IT can be daunting. In the modern age, businesses live and die by the quality of the technology – and by extension the IT team – that backs them. This makes it ever more important to choose the right managed service provider (MSP) for your needs, with the qualifications and experience to take your company to new levels. These tips will help boost your confidence and ensure you’re getting the most for your money when shopping for an MSP or consultant for your business’ IT.

The best managed service providers will:

Ask the right questions and design a solution just for you

How can someone improve your business if they don’t know anything about it? There is no one-size-fits-all in the world of technology, and even businesses with the same number of employees in the same industry will have completely different IT needs. A good managed service provider or consultant knows this, and will ask probing questions to help them determine the correct approach for your unique goals. Do you want to scale production? Improve customer service? Reduce downtime? You may not think many of these goals can be affected by a company’s technology. However an IT support provider knows that technology has ripple effects throughout an organization, both good and bad, and will design a plan to support and enhance whatever your vision may be. Don’t trust the guy who knows exactly what you need without asking a single question; make sure your provider or consultant is truly interested in learning your goals and crafting the solution that’s right for your business.

Have extensive skills and experience beyond break-fix

Having skills that go beyond knowing how to install a hard drive and troubleshoot operating system errors is crucial. To proactively maintain an entire network of servers, computers, peripherals, software, services, and devices requires many years of experience and high-level knowledge. Far more than just traditional break-fix where repair skill is generally sufficient, MSPs need to have a deep understanding of business processes and industry best practices.

When interviewing a potential managed IT service provider or consultant, go beyond questions about certifications or staff size. Ask about scalability, availability of staff with specific skill sets, proactive versus reactive support methods, and how best practices are followed. You want to hire the organization that knows how to implement technology to improve every aspect of your business and has the expertise to make it happen, not the one that will simply fix issues as they occur without ever looking at the bigger picture.

Offer 24/7/365 monitoring and support (both on-site and remote)

A good managed service provider knows that computer issues don’t take holidays. They should be monitoring your systems and resolving any problems regardless of the time of day or special occasion. Many less reputable IT service providers will only be available during certain times/days, offer remote support, and charge you extra for on-site visits. While remote monitoring and service is great for many problems, there are occasions where an IT provider needs to come on-site for a fix or audit. These situations should always be accounted for in your plan. Ensure that you know what you’re paying for and that it covers all current and potential needs.

Demonstrate consistency

Maintaining consistent results and delivery is key. Your potential managed service provider should be able and willing to share examples of their policies and processes and demonstrate how they translate to different business environments. If they can’t explain what they do, how they do it, and why it is effective, then you’ll want to question their validity. This also applies to current partnerships. Good MSPs are happy to share details of their managed clients and how they have helped their company. If their success and client satisfaction metrics are inconsistent (or non-existent), you may want to rethink hiring them.


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Take a forward-thinking, technology based approach

You would think that a company offering technology management would automatically take a modern, technology based approach, right? However many IT management firms are still stuck in the past, offering only reactive issue resolution and legacy processes.

As managed services have become more commonplace and in demand, lots of IT companies have jumped on the bandwagon claiming they offer MSP support. These will generally be glorified break-fix contracts without proactive monitoring and support or overall business improvement plans. You will only see them when something is already wrong and they won’t do much, if anything, to prevent issues or look at the bigger picture. Many also don’t pay attention to IT industry trends and advancements which could restrict their clients to lagging behind competition.

Ensure that any potential MSP company you interview offers:

  • Proactive monitoring to detect and prevent problems before they spiral out of control and cause downtime, data loss, or other disruptions
  • Sophisticated capabilities such as modern detection and alert mechanisms, prioritization of tasks, scaling potential, automation, and a comprehensive web-based user portal
  • Regular audits of their knowledge base, procedures, and offerings to ensure you’re always getting the latest and greatest support available

Support multi-vendor and -device environments

Managed service blog office space

The IT infrastructure of today looks much different than even 5 years ago. The typical office will have multiple desktops, laptops, servers, mobile devices, and software all from many different vendors.

A managed service provider should have no problem designing a support plan that encompasses every aspect of your technology. They will also be the ones responsible for contacting these distributors as needed. An MSP who has good relationships with multiple leading vendors is ideal. They will be kept abreast of new vendor offerings before the general public and can design upgrade paths that harness emerging technology.

However, it is important to find out if your IT provider is vendor neutral. If they are contracted or partial to using only certain vendors’ products, some offerings may not necessarily be right for your business. A good MSP should always focus on selecting the technology that provides the best results for you.


Schedule a free business consultation today to discover how a good managed service provider can help you save money, reduce stress + downtime, and overtake your competition.

12 Comments

  1. Latoya Anderson February 26, 2018 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    I like that you suggested making sure that the managed service provider that you will choose does proactive monitoring to ensure that downtime, data loss, and other disruptions are going to be prevented. I have a friend who’s dreaming of owning a business in the future. Since her business will involve data usage and storage, it will make sense for her to make sure that the IT support company that she will hire knows how to do regular monitoring to prevent problems from getting out of control which can cause a bigger issue on her business. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Braden Martin May 11, 2018 at 3:15 am - Reply

      Totally agree with you. It’s good that your friend understands that right in the beginning. Many people get entangled in the business processes and don’t give as much attention to storage and access of data. I guess, having a managed service provider is crucial just to tackle with such inevitable problems.

      • Lauren Morley May 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm - Reply

        You got it Braden! It’s so important to give thought and time to those things like data that may fall by the wayside in the beginning of building a business. And an MSP can definitely help make sure you’re set up for success. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Lauren Morley May 15, 2018 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      Definitely, Latoya! Many IT companies only offer certain services, so it’s important to make sure the company you choose handles everything you’ll need. Proactive monitoring is especially amazing! Knocking out problems before they disrupt business is so powerful. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!!

  2. Mark Watson February 1, 2018 at 12:27 am - Reply

    Before you choose any managed IT service provider, check how long they have been in business and the type of people they employ. Some service providers specialize only in specific technologies and which may not be suitable for all projects.

    • Lauren Morley May 15, 2018 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      YES x100! Ensure that they are reputable and have a demonstrable history of client success and can get your company the results you want. You’re handing someone the keys to your entire IT network, it’s a big decision!

  3. Tiffany Locke January 9, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    I’m glad that you mention how the IT infrastructure of today looks much different than even 5 years ago, since it usually has desktops, laptops, servers, mobile devices, and software from a variety of vendors. Since this is the case, your advice to find a managed service provider that has the skills to deal with every aspect of your technology would be important. If you go online, it would probably help you research the different providers and provide their contact information so you can call them in order to make sure they’ll be able to help with the specific technology you use in your business.

    • Lauren Morley May 15, 2018 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      Exactly! IT changes so quickly nowadays, and your provider needs to keep their knowledge up to date. Make sure they understand not just your infrastructure, but your business goals as well.

  4. Raisa Delima September 9, 2017 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    That’s a good point that a good MSP company will be able to help you 24/7/365. I know I would rest easier knowing that if things were to go wrong, the IT service could help us get the issues resolved quickly. I don’t own a business, but I can definitely see how this would be essential to a business owner’s business strategy!

    • Lauren Morley May 15, 2018 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Raisa! It truly is great for the business owner. Proactive monitoring and 24/7/365 support will keep any IT issues at an absolute minimum, and reduce stress for the business owner with plenty to worry about already.

  5. Gloria Durst August 28, 2017 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    I agree that a good IT service has a forward thinking approach. It would make sense to find someone who knows what they are doing and who will adopt the most recent technology. In addition to this, you would want to talk with past clients to see what they think.

    • Lauren Beauvais August 29, 2017 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      Very true! Especially in the managed service world, the provider a company signs on with is going to become a huge part of their business. You want to make sure they know their stuff and have produced good results for current clients!

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