5 Critical errors to avoid when selecting your managed service provider

As customers demand personalized services, businesses are under increasing pressure to meet those demands. In turn, employees need support as projects grow more complex, and to meet the needs of both customer and workforce, juggling cloud management in-house can be a relentless headache. 

In these situations, businesses seek the assistance of a managed IT service provider. These highly skilled technology partners specialize in simplifying the process and easing the headache. Ultimately, managed services free your staff from performing time-consuming tasks and allow them to focus on the core business operations instead.

In a world where technology moves at incredible speed, managed services providers (MSPs) have become integral to companies’ IT environments. Research from Mordor Intelligence shows that the global managed service provider (MSP) market was valued at USD 152 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.2 percent to reach USD 274.20 billion by 2026. The implication is clear: managed services are here to stay.

However, as with any service business, selecting a provider is subject to certain levels of risk. You must ensure your organization gets what it needs from its MSP without being led astray by one looking for a quick cash grab.

Subsequently, there are some critical errors you should avoid when selecting a managed service provider:

Basing Your Decision Solely on Price

You may have tight budget constraints, but that shouldn’t mean going too cheap when choosing an MSP because this could end up costing more in the future. If you can bring more funding into play initially, then do so, but if you’re working with a tight budget, choose an MSP who will work within these parameters.

Relinquishing all control is never a good idea

Even if you do outsource all your business’s day-to-day application security activities to a managed services provider, you remain responsible for your software security strategy. If anything goes wrong, it will be your name customers, and the public will remember, not that of the managed services provider.

Choose an MSP who gives you complete control over test timing and depth. In addition, ensure you have complete visibility of testing progress and outcomes, as well as continuous communication with your MSP. Providers who care about transparency offer cloud-based monitoring systems so that clients can obtain an overall picture of test results at any time.

Choosing an MSP That Doesn’t Understand Your Business and Network Infrastructure

Managed services providers need to understand how your network functions and what can or cannot happen within its parameters for them to provide you with proper support. If they don’t know anything about your business’s needs, structure, and processes — or, worse yet, if they don’t even bother asking questions before taking on a customer — it is likely going to lead towards problems later when things aren’t working as expected.

MSPs who offer managed service packages must know what is always happening for them to troubleshoot effectively when an incident arises.

Before signing on any dotted line, you must ensure your managed service partner understands your business model and network infrastructure. If they can’t provide proof of their ability, then look elsewhere.

On top of that, make sure your managed services provider is ready to commit resources into understanding exactly how things run in your company. This way, they’ll provide solutions that will work for your specific needs.

Failure to Understand Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

All managed service packages come with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that defines the services offered to meet your business requirements. Your SLA should not only define outages that will be reimbursed to your business but should also state how quickly a managed service provider will respond when an outage occurs. 

If you’re looking at managed network solutions, make sure “network availability” or guaranteed uptime percentage is within the SLA. If unplanned downtime happens because of faulty equipment or poor management of resources, they’ll compensate accordingly. Also, make sure any managed IT packages offer proactive maintenance instead of reactive support. Lastly, one must ensure complete transparency between yourself and your MSP. 

Assuming All MSPs are the Same

Finally, managed services providers may all offer similar packages, but they don’t necessarily provide customers with an equal quality of experience. Therefore, you need to quickly verify managed services provider performance and customer service quality, so always ask the right questions and seek industry references. Additionally, managed IT service providers will have different levels of service packages, so you need to be fully aware of all contract inclusions before you embark on your partnership.

Image credit: ArtemSam/depositphotos.com

Alex Lane is Head of Sales and Marketing at cloud hosting and managed IT service specialists zsah.

Author: Martha Meyer