7 things to consider when choosing a Managed Service Provider

Karen O’Connor, general manager ICT services and solutions, Datapac, highlights seven key considerations for Irish businesses looking to move or begin working with a managed service provider.

The breadth of skills and expertise needed to manage and optimise technology infrastructure has grown significantly. As a result, organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to retain the necessary resources to monitor and optimise their ICT infrastructures and systems. Many are turning to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to help them to take full advantage of their technology investments while simultaneously making more effective use of their in-house resources.

Before aligning with an MSP, however, there are a number of important considerations that any business should take. Bearing the following points in mind will ensure that your organisation extracts the maximum value from its engagement and potential relationship with its managed service partner.

  1. Customer references

Firstly, it’s essential to assess the organisation’s reputation prior to aligning with them. Customer references provide the most accurate real-world evaluation of an MSP’s ongoing performance. Reach out to the MSP and ask them to provide one or more customer references, so that you can make a more informed decision about what it’s like to work with them as a service provider.

  1. Financial position and stability

If you are going to engage the services of an MSP, you need to be confident they will be around for the long haul.  Take the time to look into their financial position and the stability of the company. Financial records are easily available, through resources like the Company Registration Office. The length of time they have been in business is another effective barometer of their ability to serve customers over the long term.

  1. Flexibility

Organisations’ needs change over time so businesses require flexibility. The services and solutions that you avail of today are unlikely to be the same as those you will require in five years’ time. Select an MSP that can provide the flexibility to tailor and scale services to the evolving needs of your company and whose contracts allow such flexibility without restrictive penalties. This will allow your organisation to choose from the services that add most value at any given time. As well as this, you should ensure to align yourself with an organisation with a proven ability to respond to changing market needs, conditions and demands, and one that employs the latest technologies to help you to add value to your business.

  1. Technical expertise

Your chosen MSP should have the depth and breadth of technical skills to manage your technology investments. Look closely at their core competencies, qualifications and experience managing similar technology environments. Find out what are the provider’s technical strengths (and areas of weakness) so that you can determine whether they are a suitable fit for your business. Leading MSPs will also make it their priority to invest in future talent which displays a strong capability for long-term thinking.

  1. Partner accreditations

Assessing your prospective provider’s partner accreditations will give you a better understanding of the depth of knowledge and expertise they have in specific areas. Checking the length of time they have been accredited with each vendor and the level of accreditation (e.g. Platinum, Gold or Silver) will also help you to find out if they have the ability to maintain long-term relationships at the highest level.

  1. Industry standards and qualifications

There are some very important quality standards and industry qualifications that you should expect your service provider to hold – these include ISO accreditations in the areas of Information Security, IT Service Management, Health and Safety and Quality along with a service management team who certified to ITIL practitioner level. Such achievements provide a confidence that you are dealing with a professional partner committed to an ongoing journey of continuous improvement.

  1. Business values

Finally, when choosing a provider it’s important to align with one with similar values to your organisation. Ask prospective partners about their core organisational value, CSR initiatives and environmental standard achieved. Cultural compatibility will go a long way towards sustaining a mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.

Choosing a managed service provider is a significant step for any business, so it’s essential to carry out your research and due-diligence before making any decisions. Evaluating these seven steps will go a long way to establishing a long standing partnership that adds value to your business.

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