10 Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Managed IT Services Provider
More and more businesses are utilizing the services of managed IT services providers (MSPs). Organizations without an internal IT team may utilize an MSP to benefit from the same level of support as having IT resources on staff, at a much lower cost. On the other hand, organizations with an internal IT team can enhance IT availability and the performance of their existing IT team, while also benefiting from the cost savings. Regardless of the situation, many common mistakes which can be avoided with a bit of due diligence, are sometimes made during the process of choosing an MSP. Here are the 10 most common mistakes and some advice on how to avoid making them.
1. Viewing managed IT services as a set it and forget it solution.
While MSPs typically solve all technical issues for their clients, the service should not be viewed as a “set it and forget it” solution. Businesses will need to be prepared to play a role by doing tasks such as staying aware of new developments in cybersecurity, diligently implementing IT best practices, providing security training for employees, and enforcing IT policies. A good IT services provider can help with these tasks but cannot force a client to take action.
2. Not having a plan for engaging IT support.
When selecting an MSP, many decision makers believe they will be able to just hand everything technical over to the MSP. While it is not impossible for an MSP to handle every technical issue, it could end up being extremely costly in the long run. Before engaging the services of an IT provider, business organizations need to develop a clear plan for staff to know when it is appropriate to engage the MSP for support, versus when issues should be handled internally. Assigning “power users” internally who can assist others, especially on custom or industry-specific software applications, will increase productivity and reduce IT support costs.
3. Thinking all MSP billing models are the same.
Every MSP is unique and will likely have different billing models. It is important to review the various billing models during the vetting process to determine the best fit. Measuring the predicted usage of IT support against the different models will help to avoid unexpected cost overruns.
4. Viewing the MSP as a vendor rather than an internal resource.
When hiring an MSP, the entire process should be approached in similar way as hiring an internal team member. The IT provider should be held to the same level of expectations as internal team members when it comes to communication, professionalism, and dedication to the company. This will enable the organization to zero in on the right provider for their company and avoid a future disaster.
After the engagement begins, if the organization continues to view the MSP as an internal resource, it will create a working relationship open to expressing new ideas that will benefit the company in achieving their goals and expectations.
5. Withholding vital information from the MSP.
During the negotiation of the initial contract and even after engaging the services of an MSP, it is important that the business is as transparent as possible with the MSP. Withholding information from the MSP can end up costing more money in the long run. Whether it is about locations that need to be supported, personnel changes, or unexpected business issues, the MSP needs to know it all.
6. Underestimating the impact of future business changes.
As the business evolves, IT needs will change, and the MSP will need to be able to support those changes. Decision makers should discuss business initiatives, new product launches, external infrastructure changes, and other issues which may impact the MSP’s ability to support the business in the future, to ensure that the selected MSP will be capable of handling them.
7. Not being on the same page with the MSP.
If it is believed that the MSP will be providing specific services while the MSP believes those services are being handled internally, obvious issues will arise. A RACI chart for all service types identifying who is responsible and what is billable will set a clear direction and uncover potential challenges. Providing these charts to staff will ensure correct engagement with support team members the first time, and increase user satisfaction levels, as well as, the user adoption rate of new service methods.
8. Failing to balance internal staffing with MSP resources.
If the business organization is supplementing internal resources with MSP resources, it is important to ensure that the right people with the right skills are being retained to create balance. An MSP can completely compliment internal IT staff’s knowledge and skills, and through working together as a team, amazing results can be achieved. However, if the teams are unbalanced problems will arise.
9. Misunderstanding the terms of the contract.
The contract between the company and the MSP defines the terms of the engagement. Decision makers need to ensure that the terms of the agreement are clear and that all key staff members are aware of them, including where and when these services are available, how to contact the MSP, and what actions will trigger additional billing.
Part of the agreement with the MSP should be a non-disclosure agreement which the MSP’s resources need to sign before working with privileged data. In addition, it is important to understand the appropriate feedback channels with the MSP. If a specific resource is not performing as desired, the business should know how to report it, how concerns are handled, and who will be handling the feedback.
10. Failing to perform due diligence.
Decision makers should learn as much about a potential MSP as possible. Thorough vetting should be performed before signing the contract. Some questions to ask are:
- Does the MSP have resources that can support all our needs?
- What is the MSP’s business stability?
- Do they have other customers that are of the same size?
- Are they providing services to the same industry vertical?
By avoiding the common mistakes listed above, the chances of finding the right IT partner and maintaining a successful partnership after the engagement begins will be increased significantly.
At Outsource IT we pride ourselves in being a reliable IT provider that meets and exceeds the expectations of our clients. To find out more about how we can help fulfill your organization’s IT needs, please contact an Outsource IT account manager.