As a small- or mid-size business (SMB) grows tech needs tend to balloon and take operational costs with them. One option is to look for an IT partner. It isn’t a decision you should make lightly. After all, the managed service provider (MSP) will have access to your network and be a key component in keeping your business operational. So, what makes for a good partner?
Here are four things to look for in a managed service provider.
1. A History of Excellence
In 2019, ConnectWise estimated that there were over 40,000 MSPs in the US market. To put that in perspective, there were just about 14,000 McDonalds restaurants in the US in the same year. ConnectWise’s research shows that only about 8,000 of those MSPs were healthy enough to sustain their business. So, what does this mean? There’s is a lot of turnover in the MSP world, with smaller operations often having to close their doors in just a few years.
When you’re looking into an MSP, ask how long they’ve been around. How has their business grown over the years? Undoubtedly your future IT partner will face a lot of bumps along the road, and a long history proves they’re able to overcome them. If an MSP has been around for a few decades, you know they must be offering reliable service.
2. Comprehensive Service Desk and Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is at the top of the list for why you should use an MSP. Scott Logan, Director of Security Services at NetGain Technologies, mentioned in a recent webinar that identifying your vulnerabilities is a critical first step. However, sometimes SMBs lack the staff to fully implement necessary changes. When cybersecurity stretches beyond your computers and into policy and physical security measures, you need an all-in-one solution. A well-staffed MSP can provide the expertise you need to shore up holes in your IT environment.
A top-tier MSP will offer both IT services and security solutions. When it comes to cybersecurity, look at your MSP’s credentials. Are their engineers CISMP certified? If not, they should be. Do they offer more than just software solutions? An ironclad security posture also requires vulnerability scanning and employee training.
3. Familiarity with Your Industry
Every business is becoming more reliant on technology, creating a growing need for IT expertise. Some industries, such as healthcare providers and financial institutions, also have to contend with strict regulations. These regulations can put a lot of pressure on how SMBs do cybersecurity. Acquiring the expertise and credentials necessary to work in those regulations is challenging and poses a big risk if you go without.
Your IT partner should understand your industry and the laws surrounding it. As you’re speaking with MSPs, be sure to bring that up. An MSP should feel like an extension of your on-site staff. That means their experts should be able to work within your unique needs.
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4. Reliable Availability
Computer problems aren’t limited to working hours, and preventative maintenance is often handled in the evening. This can cause scheduling issues for smaller teams that have to keep the business running during the day and ensure its safety overnight. Supplementing your IT operation with a managed service provider can help alleviate some of this pressure, especially if they offer 24/7 service.
Be sure to discuss when your MSP is available. Do they charge more for afterhours calls? Will their preventative maintenance and software patching cause any disruptions during business hours? If your MSP is constantly bringing down parts of your IT environment during the day, it could cause more disruption than it’s worth.
Ready to Find Your IT Partner?
Making the jump to an MSP isn’t an easy decision. We’d be the first to tell you that. But if you do your homework you can find a partner that helps elevate your business by taking IT off your hands.
NetGain is always looking to improve how we provide service and solutions. We’ve been around for almost 40 years — we know this business. We also know our partners, with engineers and service desk support qualified to work with everyone from doctors to bankers and attorneys.
Our customers have access to their service desk 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Their service is personalized, always delivered from a small team of IT experts dedicated to their business.
Ready to discuss how to make IT easier for your business? Contact us and let us know your needs, and we’ll see how we can exceed them.