Searching for a new IT managed service provider, but unsure what to look out for? We have six signs of a great managed service provider that can help you get started.
An MSP should be chosen with great consideration and it's true that the perfect service provider for your business will need to be based on your needs. However, having these six things to look out for in your armoury will help you recognise a good managed service provider when you see one.
1 - Skills and Experience
Ask about the skill levels of the staff. Any managed service provider should be able to provide information about the skills certified to a high level for the services they provide.
Key skills you should look for in an MSP are Microsoft Certifications. In early 2021, there was a huge re-shuffle of Microsoft certifications, moving away from a model of three main levels of MCSA, MCSE and MCSD for each field of IT such as Server Management, Windows Networking etc., each valid for two years, into role-based certifications for engineers to attain and require yearly renewal.
These roles give a good idea of the strong suits of a business' staff, allowing you to gauge what is best for your business needs.
Did you know, 41% of companies indicate they are lacking the platform expertise required to fully adopt hosting and cloud services within their organization. [IBM]
A key business utility you should look out for is a training program for staff. An MSP's desire to grow their staff's knowledge by investing in their people is a key indicator of the company's ethos which feeds into the level of service they will provide to your business.
Ask about an MSP's training program and find out about how they help their staff attain industry certification. Do they allow study time, pay incentives and cover the cost of exams? You will be surprised at the number of MSPs expecting their staff to perform training and exams on a purely extra-curricular basis.
Experience is a little more difficult to attain, however, a good measure is the average length of service. High levels of length of service is a valuable asset to any business highly valued employees stay for longer gaining experience in all sense of the word - invaluable to the company and its customers.
Concise boasts an exceptional average length-of-service for employees of over 10 years, our people-powered mindset means that we know success starts at home, and continuous improvement and personal development allow us to provide better services to our clients.
2 - Service Availability
An effective service provider should be able to provide round-the-clock service to your systems. A strong out-of-hours team can be as important as a strong daytime team. Technology doesn't clock out at 5pm so neither should your service provider.
When considering an MSP you should ask about what 24/7 services they offer but also ask yourself how much you value a 24/7 service for your business. You may think "but my business doesn't operate around the clock, what value would I get in a 24/7 service?" but your IT systems don't. There is no worse sight on a Monday morning than a server outage or updates needing to be done or an internet outage. These are all incidents that can be resolved or will be well on their way to being resolved, long before your alarm goes off with a 24/7 service agreement.
3 - Alignment with Mature Industry Best Practices
ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) is a world-leading practice on IT management and the employment of these practices are a key indicator of the maturity of the managed service provider you're looking at.
ITIL best practices cover problem, incident, event, change, configuration, inventory, capacity and performance management as well as reporting. These should be the backbone of any mature MSP when making decisions on managing your IT resources.
In the modern world we live in, technology underpins every business. Effective management of IT systems can be the key to unlocking business growth. An MSP's immature approach to IT management and project implementation can disrupt a business heavily and hold back and hinder growth. When considering a new MSP or if you're reviewing renewal with an existing IT partner, ask about their service delivery practices.
At Concise we take great pride in following industry best practices on a daily basis and we align ourselves with the ITIL approach to IT service management and implementation.
4 - Local & Remote Support Included
We know from our own business analytics that 96% of customer incidents are resolved remotely. The other 4% are often the most painful for our clients.
If you have an IT emergency that cannot be resolved remotely can you afford to wait hours for an engineer to travel to the business?
A local service provider can respond quickly and effectively to those situations where an on-site visit is necessary.
Being close geographically allows for regular visits to a client's office and an opportunity for frequent visits from clients. Regular business reviews ensure allow for IT strategic planning for business growth, billing management and the ability to put voices to faces of our engineers.
The geographical proximity of an IT partner is an incredible asset to a business and can never be understated in the value it brings to the level of service. Our Cheshire based office allows us to provide business with on-site IT support in Manchester, Liverpool and other North West locations in a matter of minutes.
5 - Regular Customer Satisfaction Survey
The best measure of how good an MSP is is what do their existing clients think of their services. Any managed services provider should be able to produce customer satisfaction (CSAT) results on demand, though if you've had to ask for them that could be a red flag.
Any MSP confident of the level of service they provide will lead with their customer satisfaction results. CSAT results are a key industry benchmark and should be available on their website or social media. Taking the time to read the customer satisfaction stats of a prospective managed service provider is a must. You wouldn't buy a product for your home without reading the reviews? Why should it be different for picking your new IT partner?
Google reviews and other review websites are the perfect places to see unfiltered, actual feedback from customers. Simply enter the company's name into a search engine with "reviews" and up pops all the locations you can see reviews for any good managed service provider.
A mature managed service provider will have conducted an NPS survey. A Net Promoter Score gives a measurement of how likely an existing client is to recommend the company to a friend, colleague or family member. It is a key indicator of customer experience and loyalty. The NPS survey question will often be tied into a greater customer satisfaction survey asking about the satisfaction of services, service levels and account management.
Our own annual customer satisfaction survey brought back a score of 72, blowing the industry standard of 39 out of the water.
6 - Security Certified
Every day in the news there seems to be yet another company stung by a security breach. Though news reports cover large companies like The Florida Water Treatment Plant, T-Mobile to name a few, there are lessons all businesses should take from these events. No business is too small to be targeted by cyber-criminals, can you afford to experience a breach? The answer is likely "No", so you need an MSP that can provide cyber security as a service to your business.
Not all MSPs provide security to their clients and security is no longer just anti-virus, your business needs full, certified security. The industry standard is Cyber Essentials (CE), also known as CE or CE Plus. The IT partner you're looking to get on board should be Cyber Essentials certified themselves but don't be fooled, this does not mean they can provide this certificate to your business, it is simply that they have obtained it themselves.
When choosing an MSP to work with, look for the Cyber Essentials logo in the footer of their webpages (see our footer for example.) If you're after getting all your IT needs covered off in one place you will want to look for the Cyber Essentials Certification Body logo on one of their security services page. This logo shows that the provider is a certified assessor of the Cyber Essentials certification to businesses.
If this is a service you're looking to get for your business read our Cyber Essentials IASME Certification page for details on how you can cover your business.
A great thing to look out for is partnerships with large security organisations such as Concise's partnership with The Cyber Resilience Centre, a Police led, not for profit partnership to protect businesses. Partnerships like this show real trust from industry leaders so you know you can trust expertise and people at that MSP.
- You need a partner you can trust. All the points covered in this list can be a gauge on how much you can trust an MSP, if they have solid industry accreditations, partnerships from other industry leaders, a premise you can visit, existing customers trust them.
- Make sure you know what you're getting from your managed services provider. Many MSP claim to cover cyber-security but often it is limited or they are not accredited to provide security to your business. Make sure your next IT partner is capable of protecting your business from cyber-crime.
- Don't be afraid to question your MSP account manager or rep. If you have any questions about their credentials, customer satisfaction feedback, question them as any MSP should be more than happy to answer your questions.
- If the MSP you're in talks with or looking to renew with can't answer these questions or can't provide the quality you're looking for for your business, talk to Concise today about how our services can help your business grow and get the most out of your technology on 01606 336 265