Five criteria for evaluating managed services providers

Five criteria for evaluating managed services providers

Not all managed services providers (MSPs) bring the same benefits to the table. Because your IT system is essential to your business, you need to choose an MSP that has the experience, expertise, and credentials to effectively protect and manage your network. By looking at the following five criteria, you can determine how well an MSP meets your business’s needs.

#1 Service level agreement (SLA)

The SLA contains crucial details, particularly the level of service and other guarantees that you can expect from an MSP. These include the service delivery process, areas of maintenance covered, monitoring and reporting, performance standards, and the amount of time it would take for the service provider to respond to your request. The SLA must also lay down the consequences should the MSP be unable to meet the guarantees it has issued to you.

Do not hesitate to ask for clarifications if you find the details vague. You may also try to negotiate with an MSP to make the services it offers more tailored to your business’ unique requirements.

#2 Experience and reputation

Go to the MSP’s website and check for any proof of experience such as case studies, testimonials, and reviews from past clients. You can also look for the year the MSP was established, what technical certifications it holds, and which technology vendors it’s partnered with.

Feel free to explore other sources of information about an MSP’s work and the quality of service it offers. Visit online forums dedicated to discussions on MSPs, IT systems, and network security. If you have friends who own businesses and have partnered with MSPs before, or who are in the IT industry, their recommendations will prove very helpful, too.

#3 Support

In the off chance that your IT system experiences a hiccup, an MSP must be available 24/7 to perform the necessary fixes. Its help desk must be constantly staffed, ready to respond and solve your problem within the shortest possible time. Some MSPs assign dedicated account managers or support managers to ensure that clients can contact the right person during emergencies.

Inconvenient downtimes do happen to MSPs, albeit very rarely. In such cases, an MSP needs to be prepared with backups and redundancies so it can continue to serve clients or, at the very least, resume its service the soonest possible time.

#4 Security

An MSP must be fully geared to secure your IT system from a multitude of computer security threats, such as viruses, malware, and hackers, among many others. When you inquire about the services it offers, ask if the MSP can make you an official and documented cybersecurity plan. Ask about the physical and network security protocols it intends to implement to protect your data. Some MSPs employ penetration tests to ensure the robustness of their security measures; inquire if your MSP follows the same procedure.

Your employees play an immense role in maintaining the security of your IT system. For this reason, your MSP must have the expertise to train them in security awareness. The MSP must also have clear and doable measures in place for recovering data following a disaster.

#5 Transition

Cloud technology is one of the best ways to augment your cybersecurity while making your data conveniently within reach every time you need it. Most MSPs offer cloud migration and transition services to help move their clients’ data to the cloud. This service is especially ideal if you run an online business, or one that moves across different locations or with several sites. On a related note, an MSP must be scalable and flexible enough so that it can adjust to increasing demands as your business grows.

You’re not likely to find the right MSP overnight. Evaluating your options will take time, but knowing what to look for will make the process easier and the results better for your business. For more advice on IT support and network security, as well as information on best-of-class business continuity tools, contact us today!

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