7 Things to Look for in a Managed Service Provider

A Managed Service Provider can make your business run smoothly in today's economy

Whether you’re a nimble, starry-eyed startup still courting venture capital or you’re a decades-old small business built in the trenches of the high interest-rate 70s, your IT needs are real and — if they’re not yet solved — pressing. While it used to be common to employ an IT team or department, thanks to the cloud, most of today’s businesses outsource those needs to a qualified managed service provider. While outsourcing IT can certainly make some aspects of running your company simpler, if your MSP isn’t up to snuff, that simplicity will fade as fast as the morning dew. Make sure you pick a managed service provider that can meet your needs. Here are seven things to look for when you’re shopping for an MSP.

1. Reliability

Regardless of whether you sell online and are looking for Washington, D.C. IT services or you’re in Santa Cruz and just keep an online catalog of what potential customers could find in your physical store, few businesses can afford to have their online presence go out for any considerable amount of time. Because of this reality, you need to go with an MSP that’s reliable. While every managed service provider in the business promises you can rely on them, it sadly isn’t always true. Here are a few ways you can tell when you’re dealing with a reliable MSP:

  • 24/7 availability
  • Fast service delivery — every time
  • Excellent system performance
  • Stellar reputation

2. Tenacity

You may not think you need tenacity in a managed service provider, but with the current insatiable appetite for evolution and speed in tech, tenacity is a primary characteristic of the best MSPs. Innovation causes almost daily changes in IT, and you need a managed service provider that can stay on top of those daily changes so your needs are always being met. Choose a vendor that understands the need to hustle and avoid complacency. Their desire to keep a competitive edge will help you keep yours.

3. Solid Partnerships

In business, it can be tempting to assume that all that matters is the bottom line, and while it’s true that staying in the black is a prerequisite for staying in business, there is a lot more to protecting your bottom line than just money. Partnerships and relationships can be difficult to quantify on a spreadsheet, but when you work with vendors who take relationships seriously, it will help make your business healthier. Choose a managed service provider with this insight in mind by looking for a provider that forms long and happy partnerships with companies that seem to be mutually beneficial.

4. Scaleable

Don’t pick a managed service provider that isn’t committed to and capable of helping you grow. Scalability isn’t just something you might need in case your business gets bigger, it’s something your MSP should be actively assisting in. If a future more-robust you can’t be served by the MSP you’re considering, go with someone else. You need a partner that, while meeting your current needs, is also incentivized to help you improve and increase your revenue streams.

5. Trustworthy

As a business owner, you know that whether or not your customers can trust you is part and parcel of whether or not you’ll have success. Because of that reality, you need to be sure to only work with vendors you can trust. Your managed service provider is no different. Be sure to pick an MSP that routinely gets high marks or your own trustworthiness will suffer.

6. Anti-Cookie Cutter

Your company isn’t just like your competitor’s company down the street, and you certainly aren’t like the gym across town or your favorite bakery. What you have to offer is unique and so is the way you do business. Any MSP worth its salt will treat your business — and every business they work with — like the unique entity you all are. They should work to understand what sets you apart, and they should give you the tools you need to leverage your best assets and shore up any weaknesses.

7. Transparent

Don’t settle for a managed service provider that doesn’t let you have easy access to real-time information. Whether you need to see how your site is performing or you need to know why a service outage has occurred and when it should be fixed, the best MSPs are transparent, and they consider it part of their job — not a hassle — to let their customers know what’s happening when and why.

Choosing a great managed service provider doesn’t need to be rocket science. Be sure to have these seven characteristics in place, and you and your business will have the IT infrastructure and service you need to succeed.