In order to optimise their IT strategy, IT decision makers need to learn three things: firstly, generally they can’t accomplish everything they’d like using only in-house resource, secondly, they need to understand what services an MSP (Managed Services Provider) can offer, and thirdly they need to view their chosen MSP as a trusted partner for the relationship to be as fruitful as possible. If you manage to do all of these things, you become an informed consumer, and your organisation will benefit because the IT strategy supporting it will be stable, flexible, future proof and cost efficient.
By leveraging the expertise of an MSP, IT decision makers not only have access to an extended operational IT team who can take away some of the rigmarole of ‘keeping the lights on’, but also, they gain access to a consultative partner who can guide their business through the process of cloud adoption, migration, and work with them to develop technology roadmaps for the future.
The great thing about becoming an informed consumer is that you begin to understand the benefits of working with an MSP, by getting to see the processes which underpin their results. This in turn allows you to contextualise the monitoring data provided by an MSP and take these insights back to other areas of your business. It is of utmost importance that an MSP helps you in this process, by guiding and transparently showcasing its inner workings, keeping you in control.
It doesn’t make sense for MSPs to underperform by obscuring processes, hiding problems, overcharging or under-provisioning your services: any reputable MSP will want to work with you in the long term, and will understand that the contract alone will not keep them in business. Therefore a mutual relationship based around trust makes sense to both parties.
In order to manage expectations from their services, MSPs look to work with their customers to create SLAs (Service Level Agreements) which guarantee a certain level of uptime. The industry tends to measure against technical metrics, so it is important to remember that your user’s actual experience is what counts – the best MSPs understand this and are able to assess what they do in the context of actual experience. Watch out also for the 100% SLA because all technology is prone to failure; a 100% SLA is no substitute for trust, transparent and meaningful engagement with your MSP.
And this brings me on to an important point: how do you know which MSPs are to be trusted? Industry accreditations like PCI-DSS, ISO, and ITIL are strong indicators, as are awards, current customers and the suppliers they work with. However, in the first instance, an MSP who is willing to sit down with you and truly understand your business needs, bring insights and opinions to change your thinking, and transparently opens up their inner workings is laying the foundations for a productive relationship. If you follow these guidelines in picking an MSP, and both parties lay their cards on the table, it is likely the relationship will grow into something mutually beneficial.