It’s no secret that IT can be a huge source of stress for employees and business owners in Wichita and the world over. There’s nothing more frustrating than when systems slow down to a crawl and software programs don’t work as they should.
In fact, an Intel study found that companies around the world can suffer productivity losses of 29% due to slow computers.
It’s therefore imperative that you find someone to oversee your IT infrastructure and keep your systems in top shape. This is where managed IT services providers (MSPs) come in. MSPs are essentially a ready-made team of technicians who will look after your systems and troubleshoot technical issues for a fixed subscription fee.
The problem is, finding a trustworthy MSP that can give you these benefits is not always so straightforward. That’s why we’ve created a list of tips to help you find the right MSP partner.
Before seeking a provider...
You need to lay out some groundwork and objectively evaluate your current systems and processes.
Find out what IT problems are plaguing your company. Is it slow application and computer startup times? Is productivity slipping due to inefficient collaboration processes? Or are you worried you don’t have the protections and expertise necessary to defend against increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks?
You should also reflect on your company’s goals with key decision-makers. Ask whether you need dedicated personnel to manage and optimize networks around the clock. Perhaps you’re looking for a way to future-proof your organization and its processes.
By discussing your biggest qualms and IT problems, you’ll have a clearer picture of what services and solutions you’ll require from MSPs.
Factors to consider when choosing an MSP
1. List of services
Different MSPs offer different solutions, so check their website to make sure they have the services you need. Standard managed services packages usually include proactive maintenance, remote and on-site support, and network monitoring.
It’s also worth asking MSPs directly about the specific solutions they offer. A first-rate MSP will have dozens of working relationships with technology leaders and vendors, so you’ll get the best experience possible.
Summit Advisors, in particular, is partnered with leading software developers like Microsoft, hardware companies like Lenovo, and cybersecurity vendors like Datto and Sophos. (See our full list of vendor partnerships.)
2. Impressions from the first consultation
Forget MSPs that instantly upsell other services or push expensive, proprietary technology on your business. These companies are likely trying to lock you into contracts and systems that you can’t easily get out of, so you’re forced to rely on them for a long time.
One sure sign that you can trust an MSP is if they take the time to understand your business’s operations and objectives. They conduct IT needs assessments, security tests, and full-scale inquiries to pinpoint the obstacles keeping your business from achieving its goals.
They’ll then compile their findings into a report you can understand and recommend solutions that are best suited to your company’s needs and budget.
3. Service level agreements (SLAs)
Every MSP you talk to must have SLA contracts that clearly define the levels of service you can expect from them. SLAs will vary depending on the MSP, but you’ll at least want someone who can guarantee fast response times, same-day issue resolutions, and after-hours service availability.
If you’re entrusting an MSP with mission-critical systems, their SLAs must also uphold certain minimums like proactive updates, data encryption, multilayered cybersecurity, 99.9% server uptime, and routine cloud backups.
What’s more, the services they offer should be able to scale as your company’s needs change and come with simple exit contracts in case you no longer need their services.
4. Skills and expertise
When choosing an MSP, you want to know what their team of technicians are capable of. At the very least, they must hold qualifications like Microsoft Certified Professional, CompTIA Security+, and ITIL certifications to demonstrate their proficiency in help desk services, cybersecurity, and Microsoft products.
In addition to qualifications, look at reviews and interview long-term clients about their overall experience working with a particular MSP. If a prospective provider gets nothing but praises from current clients, they should definitely be put up for consideration.
5. Experience in your industry
The last thing you want is an MSP that doesn’t understand the nuanced requirements in your industry. If you’re in healthcare, for example, your provider should have an in-depth knowledge of HIPAA and know the solutions necessary to ensure the privacy and safety of personally identifiable information.
The same goes for other strictly regulated industries like financial and professional services. By partnering with an MSP that stays up to date with regulatory changes, your organization can avoid hefty penalties while protecting your customers and data.
Plus, MSPs that have years of experience serving your industry will likely know the best solutions to drive your company forward.
Partnering with an offshore MSP is a perfectly reasonable decision, but that means you only get remote support via instant messaging or phone calls where critical technical details are easy to miss.
On the other hand, working with a local MSP offers major benefits. The first is that local MSPs can offer prompt on-site support when it comes to dealing with complex IT issues, deploying new technology, or optimizing your systems.
Secondly, it’s easier to stay in touch with local providers and for them to learn the ins and outs of your IT infrastructure, enabling them to deliver personalized services.
Another important consideration is where MSP servers are situated. If you’re in a disaster-prone area, having a local MSP that also has backup servers located in safer areas around the country will keep your data intact and your business operational.
Keep in mind that each MSP will have different pricing models for their services. Some contracts are priced per device managed per month, while others are based on the number of users. Additionally, servers, network equipment, software licenses, and other solutions you implement will influence the final price. Always clarify the pricing when you’re negotiating terms of service with an MSP, so you’re not paying above your means.
8. Company stability
An MSP company’s resources, staffing, and financial situation should not adversely affect your own. You need a resilient partner that can support your business in the long run.
This means you’ll need prospective MSP partners to provide proof of financial stability and whether they have enough technicians to meet your IT needs. It’s a good sign if an MSP company has been around for more than a decade because it shows that they understand how to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive market.
The Summit Advisors difference
If you’re looking for a reliable MSP in Kansas or Oklahoma, Summit Advisors is the clear choice. We have a full team of certified IT technicians who can proactively support and manage your IT systems for an affordable monthly subscription.
We even provide robust cybersecurity, cloud, and IT consulting services so we can meet your every need when it comes to technology.
Schedule a call with us today to learn more about our services and get to know our team, so you can make a decision you won’t regret.