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How to find the right MSP fit

By Jason Hagens

The benefits of partnering with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) are undeniable when you’re on a shoestring budget. For a flat monthly fee, you get unlimited IT support, access to enterprise resources, and a team of computer geniuses, each of whom have their own area of technology expertise.

Although deciding whether to work with an MSP is not a tough decision, choosing the right one is a real challenge. After all, not all MSPs are built the same, and if you select an IT partner without vetting its ability to sync with your needs, you end up creating more issues rather than fixing them.

To make sure you have no hiring regrets, here are some things you should look for in an MSP:

Technical expertise

Like a job interview, you need to assess whether MSP candidates possess the skills and expertise to support your business. For instance, if you want to prioritize improving employee collaboration, do they offer any productivity services and software that can help you achieve just that?

The best place to find out is by visiting their website to see which vendors they work with and what certifications their technicians have.

They should, at the minimum, have excellent system administration and troubleshooting skills, but if you have plans for growth, you’ll want an MSP well-versed in a variety of technologies including cloud computing, cybersecurity, and telephony systems.

More importantly, if you’re in the market for a specific solution, like Office 365, make sure your provider has a close relationship with the manufacturer. In this case, you should try to find an MSP with long-standing Microsoft certifications.

Industry experience

Whether you work in healthcare, manufacturing, or everything in between, you need a provider with experience supporting businesses in your industry. If you run a clinic, for example, your MSP must understand the intricacies of managing healthcare data and HIPAA compliance.

When meeting with a prospective partner, don’t hesitate to ask for case studies and client portfolios. An MSP that has had success with similar businesses will likely produce similar results for your company.

Robust security and continuity solutions

Relying on a third party to manage your IT systems is a big decision, which is why you should always ask what an MSP can do to protect your data and keep your operations online.

Ideally, you want someone who offers a full range of security services including firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and data encryption solutions. As for business continuity, the best partners provide robust cloud backup solutions, network optimizations, and comprehensive disaster recovery plans.

Good business reputation

Any MSP that’s advertising outstanding service-level agreements must be able to back them up with client testimonials and online reviews that speak to its reliability and professionalism. Better yet, reach out to organizations that are currently doing business with an MSP and ask them what the quality of service is like. A provider that has received an enormous amount of praise from other organizations deserves a spot in your shortlist.

Conveniently located offices

While most MSPs can serve their clients remotely without sacrificing service quality or responsiveness, onsite support is still needed for highly technical tasks. This means location should play a deciding factor in determining who gets to work with you.

Basically, picking an MSP boils down to asking yourself one question: Can you see that company as an extension of your business? If a candidate can prove that they are fully invested in learning about your operations and offering solutions to help you grow, you’ve found the perfect MSP!

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