What is a Managed Service Provider (MSP) and How to Find the Right One
There was a time, not that long ago, before personal computers, before the Internet, before smartphones, when the strategies for running and scaling a business were very different than they are today. Technology didn't have to be part of the game plan. But today’s business leaders must consider the role modern technology plays in their business if they are to build an achievable growth strategy. Does that require business leaders to become technology experts? Luckily, no. An entire industry of experts has evolved to support businesses with their technology infrastructure: Managed Service Providers.
But what makes a “great” MSP? A great MSP doesn’t simply support your technology. A great MSP gains a deeper understanding of your business and focuses on the technology that fuels your business so you can focus on the details of the other important aspects. With a talented MSP as a partner on your side, you will be able to trust you are getting the most out of your technology investment today while planning for long-term success in the future.
What an MSP Should Do For You
The right MSP provides value in two key categories. They help you manage your existing technology and they help you build a technology growth strategy to achieve your future goals. Many MSPs stop at managing your existing technology, but in today’s technology-driven world that’s not providing you enough value.
Great MSPs can help support your in-house IT team or act as your IT team by providing services like strategy, budgeting, technology adoption, training, support, security and risk management, as well as regulatory compliance.
Strategy & Budgeting
Managing your business technology without a strategy or a budget is like hiking in the Swiss Alps for the first time without a map or GPS - you just shouldn’t do it. A proper technology strategy is the key to understanding what your business goals and challenges are and how technology can directly impact your business, then building a complete plan to execute that strategy effectively. With a strategy defined you have a plan and can be confident that your investment in technology will provide a return for your business.
Adoption & Training
Technology is the root of productivity in your business. Getting staff to use new software and systems isn’t as easy as putting it in front of them and telling them to use it. It requires help with adoption and training. Adoption is helping to identify the technology features that are available to you, then guiding your staff in how to leverage it and get the most value. If the staff doesn’t adopt the software and systems you have spent good money to acquire, they won’t use them, and that’s a problem that limits your return on investment.
Probably the most recognized service of any IT team is technical support. That’s true for MSPs too. An MSP can provide first-level support to your organization, or second-level support for the more difficult issues behind your internal team. What’s important is that your staff will get answers to their issues quickly and their problems resolved so they can get back to work.
Security and Risk Management
Chances are you have heard the term “ransomware”. You know, the malware that can infect your computers and servers, encrypt all the data, and hold it hostage until you pay a ransom? With payments often in the tens or hundreds of thousands. In 2021, 37% of global businesses were hit with ransomware and paid an average of $1.8 million in ransom according to IDC’s ransomware study. At the time of this writing, ransom attacks are up 800% from just a few months ago. It's a lucrative business for the bad actors out there. A great MSP will help protect you from ransomware attacks and other security and risk management issues.
Compliance - Compliance can be a big part of some industries. Specifically in the manufacturing industry, we are seeing strict regulatory compliance requirements written right into contracts. Complying with these standards can be complicated and demanding, particularly if you don’t have the right technology foundations in place. The right MSP can help your business stay compliant with relevant regulations and assist with the reporting and compliance requirements.
Great MSPs do more than just help you manage your existing technology infrastructure and support your employees' use of the technology; they also help you build a technology strategy for growing your business. As your business grows, your technology needs will change. You will outgrow some systems and require new ones. Anticipating those changes and planning for the impact on your organization will help you scale your organization accordingly and get way more value out of your investment.
How To Pick an MSP
Having looked at all the things an MSP can do for your organization, now and in the future, it becomes obvious that you’ll want to pick a great MSP. Here are three tips for picking the right MSP partner:
1. Pick an MSP that understands your goals
The right MSP for your business needs to understand the types of technology you use, but also the types of goals you have for your business. You’ll want to select an MSP that ‘gets’ your business vision and mission and can be a true partner in building the technology portion of the strategies to get you where you want to go. It also doesn’t hurt to find one that has expertise in your industry and proven success with businesses like yours.
2. Pick an MSP with a proven track record
A quality MSP will have years of experience with legacy technologies and helping their clients achieve their business goals. Look for an MSP that can show not only how they helped their clients manage their technology, but how they helped them play the technology strategies that grew their businesses. Check their reputation, not only by reading case studies and testimonials on their sites but also by checking Google reviews and other programs like SmileBack.
3. Pick an MSP with credible certifications
Looking for an MSP with a proven track record with their clients is just part of the picture. Also, look for credibility through certifications. For example, Microsoft awards Gold partnership certifications to MSPs that demonstrate exceptional service delivery. Other companies also offer certifications that show expertise with their technology. An MSP’s certifications help showcase their expertise for your review.
4. Pick an MSP that covers all the areas and all the needs
Peace of mind requires covering all your bases. A great MSP has capabilities across the board, and won’t leave you looking for help in any area. Having a single point of contact to manage your business’ technology strategy, support your needs, secure your systems, maintain compliance, and provide complete integration and customization of your systems and applications is extremely valuable.
How to Know if Your Business Should be Shopping for a New MSP
Choosing the right MSP is one of the most important partner selections you will make for your business. So what are the signs that your business should be looking for more? Here are just a few indicators that it’s time to seek some additional help:
- Your current MSP hasn’t built a business-focused technology strategy with you
- The average time to close an internal support ticket is greater than eight hours
- You have had a security breach or ransomware incident (yes, these are common but absolutely preventable)
- Your internal team feels overwhelmed because they have to constantly manage, maintain, and update your technology
- You don’t feel like you and your employees are effectively using all the technology you have invested in
- You have industry compliance requirements or contractual compliance requirements, and your MSP is not helping you meet them
Technology is now central to the success of most businesses. Partnering with an MSP that can help you optimize your technology spend, manage and secure your systems and support your team, plus work with you to plan for the future, will help you scale your business and achieve your goals.
InsITe Business Solutions is just that type of MSP. We act as an extension of your organization, and like any part of our business, we endeavor to align our work output with your short-term and long-term business goals. You can count on us to help you make the most efficient use of your technology spend so that your whole team is as productive as possible today while keeping a keen eye toward scalability in the future, all in a secure and dependable environment.
ABOUT INSITE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS:
InsITe helps businesses and manufacturing companies get the most out of current and emerging technologies with a customized IT approach to maximize growth, efficiency, insights, and productivity. InsITe is not a typical IT company selling products for short-term, short-sighted fixes. We invest in long-term solutions for a company’s growth by taking the time to learn its products, process, and business goals before bringing tech into the conversation. In this way, we become much like our Clients’ very own internal IT department with familiar faces who understand the business.
If you have any questions about this post please leave a comment. We read and respond to all comments. Or better yet, give us a call and ask to talk directly to our Founder and CEO Mike Schipper 616-383-9000.