If your client’s business made it through the pandemic, chances are that their technological capacities have been tested to the maximum. Scaling a business cost-effectively is a challenging proposition at any time, but the era of remote work and anywhere operations comes with its own set of highly complex technical challenges that MSPs can help resolve.
Not only does the infrastructure need to capable of connecting the client’s entire network of employees, vendors, partners, and customers – it also must be secure and cost-effective enough to be viable for the long term. Your client’s technology stack needs to keep working predictably and they must assess if there are further efficiencies to be gained as circumstances continue to evolve. Enter the problem solver: a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP).
It’s critical for a business to have an MSP on board that understands their business goals and objectives, as well at its operational and infrastructure challenges. The MSP should also be capable of aligning their infrastructure to propel their business vision forward. In today’s fast-changing market environment, clients simply cannot afford to be marred by inefficiencies, limitations and misaligned resources.
Questions MSPs should be prepared for
Does the managed service provider have relevant industry experience in my business niche?
Past experience in the specific industry that the client is active in is crucial in choosing a relevant MSP. At the very least, a prospective MSP should be able to provide verifiable client case studies, or recommendations from businesses well established in that vertical.
If that’s not available, careful clients will try to drill down to understand actual operational and hands-on industrial knowledge of the MSP. The MSP should be able to tell the prospective client exactly how their business structure and workflow can influence their bottom line. It is important to remember that all MSPs claim to be specialized, but few actually are. It’s up to you to prove your mettle to a client unfamiliar with your work.
Does the MSP offer onsite or after-hours support in the event of an emergency?
It’s ideal to have a MSP that can take care of round-the-clock availability of both remote and onsite support. On-demand, prompt and remote support is can be of value to the client and MSPs generally try to sell hard on their track record in this category.
But sometimes, having local onsite support can also be critical in helping with the quick resolution of complex problems. Having emergency onsite support is also important for most businesses. Astute clients will try to make sure that their MSP doesn’t outsource its workloads on weekends, and in case of emergencies during closures or holidays, for example.
Does the vendor understand my business and provide effective technical solutions to propel my business forward?
If an MSP does its job well, most businesses are savvy enough to know this right from start, and they will listen closely to what you have to offer.
Are you merely upselling your services or, do you actually understand their business, the challenges they are facing, the inefficiencies in their current infrastructure and so on? More importantly, they will try to see if you have an actionable plan that can address all of the above pain points.
What will the implementation process look like?
Project management expectations are often overlooked in initial conversations with MSPs and this can be a critical oversight by some businesses. Asking about this allows clients to be prepared in case any challenges arise (both expected and unexpected) during the transition and how quickly and efficiently they can be sorted without impacting day-to-day operations.
Is the MSP offering specific solutions to my business problems?
The best MSP is the one that remains invested in a client’s business success, year in and out.
A great MSP will be able to identify potential technology and security gaps, from the initial assessment forward, and provide a technology roadmap to get the business from its current stage to its desired one and beyond. If the business has special requirements or needs special emphasis in certain areas, such as security and compliance, clients will need to make sure that the MSP has the right people and tools in place to help them meet those requirements.
Further, the client will want an MSP to be discerning enough to understand exactly what makes their business unique and helps them stand out from the competition through strategic IT Consulting Services and more.
Is Managed Services the selected vendor’s primary business function?
These days, many companies offer managed services as ‘add-on’ to their primary business focus. Clients should make sure to select a MSP that is dedicated to solely providing managed services so they can be assured of much-needed specialized expertise and 24/7 IT Support.
Clients are aware that good MSPs have some of the most talented technicians and industry experts on their teams, dedicated monitoring systems, and well-established procedures and protocols in place to deliver immediate assistance to their business whenever required.
Does the MSP offer remote monitoring and provide proactive maintenance?
It’s the MSP’s job to monitor the client’s IT environment and provide proactive maintenance. The quality differentiator here lies in the actual degree to which is is being proactive, i.e., if the MSP can fix issues before they turn into problems.
While there are few ways to actually measure this, reports from past and present clients of the vendor can provide businesses with a fair approximation of the quality of service they can expect. At the very least, clients need to ensure that the MSP offers 24x7x365 monitoring with effective reporting.
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