Partnering with an I.T. managed service provider (MSP) is a major step for any small- to medium-sized business. With improved technological infrastructure, new possibilities emerge for reaching out to customers, clients, or patients. Technology is a vital tool for ensuring a company’s success, but it is only as useful as the overall strategy behind its implementation. Business owners are sometimes unsure of how to proceed once new I.T. solutions have been introduced—that’s when an MSP that is also a strategic partner becomes truly valuable.
Provider vs. Partnership
In the past, MSPs have not taken an active role in strategic planning for the businesses they serve. Most managed service providers limit their involvement in business processes to anticipating and addressing technological problems. However, a new trend is emerging in the industry. Businesses are increasingly on the lookout for MSPs that can help with planning and implementing strategic initiatives that align with their technological needs. This makes sense—after all, when you’re in the market for a new car, whether you decide to buy a brand-new Mustang or a Volkswagen bus that’s seen its share of Grateful Dead tours, you still need to know where you’re going once you drive it off the lot. An experienced MSP can give you the guidance you need to make the most of your technological solutions.
Collaboration Is Key
An ideal MSP will tailor their services to fit your specific needs. For example, if you operate a small medical practice and are planning to move to larger offices, an MSP can help you make the most efficient use of the larger space as you set up computer terminals and network devices. A service provider that specializes in the medical field can even suggest solutions such as IoT devices you might not have considered before. Finding an MSP that treats you like a partner rather than a client will lead to new ways of approaching I.T. problems and solutions, as Business2Community recently stated.
How to Find the Right MSP for Your Needs
Technology is an essential part of operations no matter what field you work in. That means finding the right managed service provider can make the difference between achieving your goals and falling behind. Although every business has its own unique requirements, there are a few strategies you can use to make sure you find the provider that is right for you.
One of the first steps you should take when starting the search for a new managed service provider is learning a bit about what I.T. solutions others in your industry are using. This will give you a broad idea of what to look for in an MSP and show you what areas you can improve upon, which is especially important if you already have an in-house I.T. department. Conducting research and reading case studies about how others in your industry have partnered with MSPs will provide strategies you can use to ease the transition for existing I.T. employees, allowing them to focus on strategic projects.
Remember, Bargain Isn’t Always Better
Although many MSPs provide similar services, they are certainly not interchangeable. This is important to bear in mind if you are tempted to go with a bargain provider without learning about other available options and the services they offer. A provider that will work closely with your company to help you meet your business objectives has much more to offer than just cost savings. An MSP with a proven track record of providing specialized support might be a bit more expensive than some of its competitors, but a true strategic partner is worth the expense and will pay off in longer-term increases in profits and growth as your strategic initiatives begin to mature.
Look for Providers That Specialize in Your Industry
When it comes to managed services, sometimes jacks of all trades really are masters of none. MSPs that partner with companies in specific industries are better able to help them reach their business objectives. Senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA, Carolyn April, recommends finding a provider that has extensive experience within your industry. “Look for MSPs that understand your business and that speak less about the technology,” she says in a recent report by CIO. April recommends seeking out a provider that will create a custom contract based on a detailed discussion of your business needs, current solutions, and short- and long-term goals. A one-size-fits-all approach is likely to leave out key components that an MSP with specialized industry experience would be able to suggest.
Ask Specific Questions
When talking with a prospective MSP, have a list of questions in mind. For instance, you should ask how they would help you implement certain business goals, such as increasing customer retention. Ask if the company has worked with businesses in your industry in the past, and how they are uniquely suited to address your company’s I.T. requirements. They should also be ready to respond with examples of how they worked closely with partners to solve specific problems. Ask for recommendations about which types of technological solutions would be best for your business: cloud services, security monitoring, special enterprise software, and more. Many MSPs are now expanding into the fields of data analytics and business intelligence, so if there is an aspect of your operations you would like to improve, chances are very good that an MSP is ready to help.
Create a Plan
An MSP that is also a strategic partner can help you plan for any eventuality, including an unforeseen event that jeopardizes your data. Work with your managed service provider to create a business continuity and disaster recovery plan you can implement if the worst should happen (many MSPs specialize in Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS).
Your MSP can also help you with other strategic initiatives you plan to implement, providing software solutions, cloud backup, increased connectivity, cybersecurity, and remote help desk support. For more information about how a managed service partner can give your business the tools to succeed, call 844-44-JMARK, email us at [email protected] or visit the Contact Us page of our website.