The original version of this post was written by Lee Bazemore, and featured on the SHI Blog. SHI is a partner of CloudHealth Tech.
In the past, when competition between managed service providers (MSPs) was based on cost, choosing one was relatively easy - it was purely economic.
However, many companies now look for more. Cost has become a less significant factor than customer service and support models. Organizations want service providers that can become trusted advisors they can go to for advice and forecasting, as well as help with objectives, goals, and initiatives.
The decision is made even more difficult by the industry’s impressive growth, which has resulted in many new entrants into the market. By one recent estimate, the managed services market will reach $230 billion by 2020. That’s a 10 percent growth rate.
Identifying the right MSP for your organization is as much about selecting a long-term partner as it is identifying one to meet your immediate needs. Start by asking these three questions to narrow down your list to the service providers best suited to serve you.
1. Are your managed service offerings flexible?
Every organization has their own strategies and objectives, yet too many MSPs offer one-size-fits all solutions. A good service provider will be able to alter its services to fit what you need and mature with your business.
Look for service providers that offer services for both short- and long-term projects, as well as à la carte or in bundles. Using an MSP with flexible offerings allows you to test the water and gradually increase the workload. Flexibility is also important if you have specific security requirements that may need extra attention, such as HIPAA compliance or background checks on employees who deal with confidential information.
2. Do you provide a dedicated account management team?
Management resources help improve communication and decrease the need to continuously re-educate your MSP on your company’s objectives and strategies. Talk to potential service partners about the staffing levels they offer -- it isn’t abnormal for vendors to offer on-site account or project managers to supervise specific divisions, if not the entire contract. Having a dedicated resource guarantees a quick response that aligns with all of your business objectives, and is essential to developing a long-term business partnership.
3. What key partner relationships does your company have with vendors and leading brands?
Even if you don’t start by using a service provider for procurement, that could change. Technology rapidly evolves, making it easy to fall behind the curve. A good MSP should have solid relationships with major vendors and leading brands, which could translate to better pricing and quicker troubleshooting for you.
An MSP’s OEM partnerships also indicate that the service provider has a relevant understanding of the IT channels you count on. For instance, if your organization uses Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, look for an MSP with a better relationship with those providers.
Evaluating a new MSP is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a long partnership. The answers to these three questions should help you determine if you’re satisfied with the provider’s offerings and level of service. Moving forward, your questions are likely to become more specific to your company. But by starting with these three, you’ll have a better idea of which service providers are the best candidates for a long-term partner.
Do you have additional questions about how to choose the right MSP? Reach out to your SHI Account Executive to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. If you’re new to SHI, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.