Choosing a Managed Services Provider for Your Small Business or Startup

Posted by Steven Vigeant on 7/19/13 9:32 AM

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The choice of a managed services provider (MSP) to handle your information technology (IT) is an important one. IT is both complicated and essential for your business, no matter what industry you work in. The job of any managed services provider is to make computing as easy and flexible at a predictable cost as possible so that your IT works for you and not the other way around.

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting an MSP. Take an honest evaluation of your company's IT needs, and then start to think about what your ideal IT service provider would look like. Every small business will have different requirements, but no matter what yours are or who you choose to work with, be sure that your MSP offers the following services and features.

Flexible Offerings

Many small business owners mistakenly believe that working with an MSP will require them to sign a huge contract for a comprehensive package of services. Although there are MSP’s out there like this there are also many that are willing to evaluate your systems and listen to you, as the business owner, to what you feel are most important to you and can fit in your current budget. It is always recommended to have honest and open conversations with your MSP and for both sides to listen to each other and come up with the best solution for your small business.

Timely Assistance

Technical problems can happen at any time of the day on any day of the year. You will want to work with an MSP that can provide you prompt assistance when you need it. Understand if the MSP staffs a remote support desk and be sure their support hours are in line with your business.. Should you need scheduled on-site support will they put a support professional at your site at the frequency you desire? What if you have a one off need, what is the time to get someone to your office? Do you require 24x7 support and at what level? Be sure that the IT company you work with offers support hours that are in line with your business needs.

Adaptable Services

As your IT needs change, your relationship with your managed IT services provider will change too. Being able to grow, shrink or evolve your IT capabilities when you need it helps you to avoid costly interruptions and redundancies. It is the job of your MSP to offer solutions that are flexible and can adapt to new circumstances when they arise . When selecting an IT company to work with, inquire about the speed and cost of making changes and the levels of support they are prepared to provide.

Integrated Support

If your company has dedicated IT professionals on staff, you will want to make sure that your MSP is prepared to work in cooperation with them. That way you are not paying for duplicated services or inviting a dysfunctional relationship into your company. Be sure that your MSP understands the support network you have in-house the exact kind of assistance you require. Also understand the kind of solutions they may offer like electronic ticketing systems and monitoring solutions that can provide value to your company instead of buying, implementing and supporting these solutions yourself.

Evolving Skill Set

Technology is always changing. You rely on your MSP for expert IT advice, so you will want to be sure that they are always learning about the newest hardware , software and cloud solutions. IT professionals must constantly update their knowledge base to remain useful and relevant. Ask any MSP you are vetting probing and specific questions in order to evaluate their qualifications.

Selecting the right MSP can increase efficiency, productivity and revenue at your business. Selecting the wrong one can create costly and time consuming setbacks. Learn more about how to make the right choice by reading or newly published white paper “The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Outsourcing IT.”


The Ultimate Small Business Guide

Topics: IT Outsourcing, Small Business IT Support, IT Support, SMB, Managed Services, Hybrid MSP, IT partners, Startup