Outsourcing your IT support is a great way of making a significant saving for your business.
The trouble is, you don’t get to interview your IT team individually – and as such, you’re handing over a vital part of your business infrastructure to a team of people you might have never met?
It doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are many companies who have had external businesses handling their IT provisions for years without any incident or misunderstanding. The key is, asking the right question and finding the right managed service provider from the outset. If you’re going to do this – you need to know exactly what to look out for.
Has This Company Worked With Businesses Like Yours?
It’s useful to get a feel for the kinds of businesses a particular service provider has worked with before – as different types of business have very different needs from their IT teams.
For example, a service provider that’s used to implementing multi-site SD WAN solutions might have outstanding knowledge – but they might not be the right company for you if you’re looking at putting your first network together on a tight budget.
So, with this in mind, it’s worth asking about the companies they work with currently. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same field as you, but if they’re of a similar size, they there’s a good chance the provider is going to be able to support you in an appropriate manner.
Can They Work Alongside Your Team?
Not all companies hand their full IT provision over to an external company – in fact, virtually all small companies keep some IT expertise in house – even if it’s just an idea of how they would like their systems to work for their end-users.
Considering this, it’s good to get an idea of how a service provider will work with your existing team – especially how they’ll communicate and take each other’s idea on board.
It’s important that you keep some control of your systems, so having some in-house talent is a good way to make sure this is the case. A good service provider should be happy for this to be the case – and if they’re not, it’s time to look for someone else.
Do You Like The Way The Provider Communicates?
It’s easy to say that a managed service provider should communicate in a certain way – but this simply isn’t the case. For everyone that’s happy to get involved with the technical language and lingo, there’s another person who needs information is clear, non-IT terms.
As such, you’ll want to talk to your provider about how they communicate. It might not be an outright question, instead, you might be able to judge from the way they provide their quotes and initial conversations.
You’re going to be spending a good amount of money with a service provider – so it pays to make sure they’re talking the kind of language you can understand and build into your business.
Will They Work Proactively To Keep You Up And Running?
One of the perks that generally comes with a managed service provider is the fact they they’ll keep your business running smoothly – often without you knowing there was any kind of problem behind the scenes.
This proactive system monitoring is one of the big benefits of having a managed service provider with the depth of team and systems that means they can keep you on track around the clock. It’s the difference between logging on to your system to find an email telling you a problem’s been found and solved – compared to simply not being able to log onto your system at all.
Downtime costs businesses a lot of money. In fact, down time can be the thing that causes businesses to close their doors for good. If you want to avoid that, you need a company on your side who can keep a close eye on your systems, and act before your systems go down.
Do They Have The Potential To Grow With You?
For most companies, growth is an aim, even if it’s not something you talk about every day.
The trouble is, you can sometimes outgrow your contractors – managed service providers included. This might not seem like a problem at this stage – after all, growth is a nice problem to have, right?
While that is very much the feeling when it comes to growth, the reality is often very different. If you’ve grown to the point that your MSP can no longer support you, you stand the very real chance of finding yourself on the precipice of something big for your company, with no IT support to catch you if something goes wrong.
Make sure the team you’re working with can keep up. If they can grow with you, you’ve got a business partner that’ll take you to your first million-pound year.
How Much Will It Cost?
It’s obviously important to make sure you can afford the support you’re going to get – but, like with many other contracts, it’s vital that you understand what any additional extras are going to cost.
With most managed service providers, you’ll get a maintenance and support package. That’s to say, they’ll be on the end of the phone if you need any help – and if your system requires management to keep the lights on. Beyond this though, their services will become chargeable – unless you’ve agreed a different package up front.
It’s important to remember that a managed service provider isn’t quite the same as having an IT team at your beck and call whenever you need it, instead, they’re working within a contract – in much the same way you would with a client.
From the outset, you’re going to need a very clear and detailed run down of what the provider’s charges will be – that way, you can be sure that you’re keeping within your budget and not liable to get a surprise bill at the end of the month.