Managing and maintaining your own IT infrastructure and services can be daunting, and most importantly it takes time away from your IT staff that could be spent working on mission-critical projects that will impact your bottom line. Because of the challenges that come with monitoring and managing your own systems, an increasing number of businesses are turning towards IT managed services provider (MSPs), to either supplement their team or completely outsource their infrastructure management.
Businesses are finding that managed services are increasing the reliability of their systems, improving worker productivity and reducing overall costs. However, many MSPs do not offer a turnkey, full service that extends beyond managing network infrastructure and basic software infrastructure. The decision of which service provider to partner with will shape the future of your business, so it’s important to know what to look for.
A great managed service provider has experience in deploying a wide range of delivery models, including traditional IT, managed services and a choice of cloud models: public, private and hybrid. Even if you’re currently using one model right now, that may change in the future. You need a partner that can make a transition without having to vet yet another service.
Despite the proverb that claims “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” a reactive approach is the wrong approach for managed IT services. Managed service providers need to be proactive and constantly working to improve operations to prevent problems such as unplanned network downtime or a data breach.
Managing your systems and infrastructure is your managed service provider’s primary business, and therefore, they need to be up to date on the latest technology and employ best practices, especially utilizing the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) approach. ITIL aligns business goals with IT requirements – ask your IT managed services provider for a list of their best practices to ensure your needs align.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are critical for you to review and understand. An IT managed services provider should include provisions such as guaranteed uptime, security, power and redundancy. The SLA should spell out procedures for backup and disaster recovery, as well as physical and cybersecurity. Be diligent in your SLA review to make sure that you have a strong contract in place that covers all your critical requirements.
As your business grows and changes, your managed service provider needs to assure you that they are your true partner and accommodate your changes – with flexibility. Require that your SLA spells out exactly how your IT managed services provider will address issues such as spikes in traffic, overall growth, migration to other operating models and even downsizing.
Providers should be able to offer services in multiple IT environments, regardless of the deployment model. Ask any potential partner about their experience in managing services in a diverse range of environments.
Make sure that the provider you select is a stable business that will be around for years to come. Check customer retention numbers and their financial history, as well as growth in a variety of vertical markets.
Your IT needs aren’t limited to 9-5 business hours. One of the major advantages of managed services is being covered 24/7/365. Ask potential providers about their availability and ensure that they will be monitoring and managing your systems around the clock, year-round.
Whether you are looking to outsource all or part of your IT needs, be sure to read the Ultimate Buyers Guide to Managed IT Services before making a decision.