If you run or own a business, then chances are you already know about Managed IT Service Providers (and might even be familiar with the types of services they provide).
But, perhaps you are also unconvinced that MSPs can provide your business with any real value? Well, you may be interested to know that most businesses (without an MSP) are fairly unprepared to handle any kind of serious IT threat or attack.
That’s why more and more businesses are running in droves to acquire the aid of a qualified and professional MSP.
But how do you know which one is right for your business and culture?
In this blog we’re going to give you a how-to guide on how to choose a managed services provider (and how to choose a managed security services provider). We’ll go over everything you need to be aware of, the criteria by which to judge an MSP, and provide a list of questions to ask an MSP during the discovery process.
What is an MSP (and MSSP)?
An MSP is a Managed Services Provider. These types of companies typically provide remote support for various IT needs (and sometimes even on-site support).
The services that an MSP can provide your business are vast and varied, but MSP offerings usually include:
- Cyber Security: Network Security, Email Security, Endpoint Security
- Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Planning
- Help Desk Support
- Cloud Computing/Storage
- Application Management
A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP), focuses solely on cyber security solutions for their clients’ security posture.
This might include any combination of the following services:
- Vulnerability Assessments
- Penetration Testing
- Threat Landscape Training
- Security Incident Response
- Managed Firewalls
- Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS)
- Managed Antivirus Protection
- Managed Security Information & Event Management (SIEM)
- Data Protection Security Teams for Sensitive Data
- And More
Now that we’ve answered the question: “what is an MSP?”, let’s move on to how you can choose the right one for your business.
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Managed Services Selection Criteria
When you’re looking for an MSP, or any type of service provider for that matter, there are a few key criteria you should always keep in mind. These will help you qualify and disqualify potential providers, and eventually make the best decision for your business.
The main managed services selection criteria to keep in mind are:
- Services Offered/Flexibility
- Pricing Structure
- Industry Expertise/Reputation
- Client Feedback/Testimonials
To start off our managed services selection criteria, we’re going to look at compatibility.
This is probably the most important factor when choosing any type of service provider (not just an MSP). It’s important to make sure that the company you’re working with is compatible with your business in terms of:
- Company Culture/Values
- Communication Style
Size: You want to make sure that the MSP you’re considering is a good fit in terms of size.
If you’re a small business, then you probably don’t need (or want) to work with an MSP that only serves enterprise-level clients. It’s important to find an MSP whose clientele is similar in size to yours. This way, they’ll be more familiar with the types of IT issues and needs that you’re likely to experience.
Industry/Vertical: It’s also important to find an MSP that has served clients in your industry or vertical before.
They will be more familiar with the specific compliance regulations and IT needs of your industry. For example, if you’re a healthcare organization, then you’ll want to make sure that your MSP has experience working with other healthcare clients.
Company Culture/Values: This is another important factor to consider when choosing an MSP.
You want to make sure that the company’s culture and values are compatible with yours. This is important because you’ll be working closely with this company, and you want to make sure that it’s a good fit.
Communication Style: Finally, you want to make sure that the MSP’s communication style is compatible with your own.
This is important because you’ll be working closely with this company, and you want to make sure that they communicate in a way that works for you. For example, some MSPs only communicate via email, while others prefer to use phone or video calls. Make sure that the MSP’s communication style and response time is compatible with your own before moving forward.
These are just a few of the things to keep in mind when considering compatibility as one of your managed services selection criteria.
2. Services Offered/Flexibility
Another important aspect of managed services vendor selection criteria is the services they offer and how flexible they are.
You want to make sure that the MSP you’re considering offers all of the services you need. For example, if you need help with cloud computing, then you want to make sure that the MSP you’re considering offers cloud services.
You also want to make sure that the MSP is flexible in terms of the services they offer. This means that they should be able to tailor their services to meet your specific needs. For example, if you have a unique IT setup, then you want to make sure that the MSP is willing and able to customize their services to meet your needs.
3. Pricing Structure
Another important factor to consider when choosing an MSP is pricing.
You want to make sure that the MSP you’re considering has a pricing structure that makes sense for your business and is cost effective. For example, if you’re a small business, then you probably don’t want to pay enterprise-level prices for managed services.
Make sure that the MSP you’re considering has a pricing structure that makes sense for your business size and needs.
4. Industry Expertise/Reputation
Another important factor to consider when choosing an MSP is industry expertise/reputation.
You want to make sure that the MSP you’re considering has experience working with clients in your industry. For example, if you’re a healthcare organization, then you want to make sure that the MSP you’re considering has experience working with other healthcare clients. This way, they’ll be more familiar with the specific compliance regulations and IT needs of your industry.
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5. Client Feedback/Testimonials ⃞
In addition to industry expertise, you also want to make sure that the MSP you’re considering has a good reputation.
You can learn about an MSP’s reputation by reading online reviews or talking to their past clients. Make sure that the MSP you’re considering has a good reputation before moving forward.
10 Technical Questions to Qualifying MSP Candidates
Once you’ve considered all of the above factors, you should have a good idea of what to look for in an MSP.
To help you narrow down your choices even further, here are ten MSP qualifying questions you can use:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many clients do you currently have?
- What industries do your clients come from?
- What services do you offer?
- How flexible are your services? Can you tailor them to meet my specific needs?
- What is your pricing structure?
- Do you have experience working with clients in my industry? If so, how much experience do you have?
- What is your company culture like?
- How do you communicate with clients?
- Can you provide me with client testimonials or references?
Narrowing Down Your Search for a Qualified MSP
At Advance Networks we pride ourselves on being a managed service provider that always meets our clients needs and expectations.
If your business is in need of exceptional MSP services, please feel free to contact us, set up a free consultation and ask us all of the above questions and judge us by the criteria listed above.
We’re certain we can provide you with exactly the IT help you need.