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What to look for in an IT Managed Services Provider 

Who needs an IT Managed Services Provider (MSP)?

More often than not, businesses start to look for an IT managed services provider (MSP) because something has changed. Ultimately, that change can come in many different forms.

Perhaps you’ve experienced some significant business growth and need IT support services to help you manage in a simpler and more cost-effective way.

It might be that you’ve upgraded or adopted some new technology. Even when business benefits are clear, new technology is often challenging (complete with a steep learning curve) to implement and adapt. So much so that UK-based knowledge and expertise from a team of highly experienced, highly skilled experts makes sense.

You could be on one side of a merger or acquisition and need support to get different systems talking. You may be facing the logistical and technical challenge of entering a new market. Or a change in dynamic within your existing market that has forced you to become more agile.

Whatever the catalyst, there comes a point where you are spending too much time and effort trying to make your IT work, instead of making your business work. But in order to adopt managed services, you need an understanding of what you need to look for in a provider.

Not only can they plug the gaps in your skillset, but they also provide the additional resource that allows your business to focus on what it does best. A customer service-focused provider that remotely manages your IT can enable the evolution and digital transformation of your SME.

Selecting the right IT managed services

A good IT managed services provider is effectively a systems integrator. They can offer a comprehensive IT support service by combining any number of different subsystems or services into a single package.

These services include a variety of service desk support and administration for your IT infrastructure, network and cybersecurity. This information technology services business model could mean:

  • providing a VoIP telephone service;
  • a properly segregated and secure virtual server;
  • Office 365;
  • Disaster recovery;
  • Data back-up services;
  • Hosted service;
  • Break Fix hourly service or a wide range of other cloud services.

But as an SME it can be difficult to know what service you need. With these services, it really is a matter of learning what you need to know.

When you consider each IT support service, think of them as their own kind of Lego brick. An IT managed services provider can use them to build anything you need. However, you might begin your search thinking you need to build a spaceship, when in fact you need an all-terrain vehicle. Or vice versa.

And that is why it’s important that you’re able to trust your provider to not only understand your needs but be able to deliver the necessary support.

What to look for in an IT managed services company

They focus on your objectives, not just challenges

Remember the Lego brick analogy we used earlier? The first thing you should look for is an IT services company that doesn’t immediately decide what you need to build. The difference between a good and bad provider starts with whether or not they take the time to understand your business and its goals, rather than just its IT problems.

Only when they have a good understanding of where you want to end up can they start planning the journey. In essence, the question must never be “What do you need?” Rather, the relevant question to ask is “What do you want to achieve?” Undoubtedly, you’ll surely know the answer to the second question.

They’re an ISO accredited IT managed services provider

Every provider will tell you that they are good at what they do. But it is quite different when an internationally recognised body agrees. An ISO accredited IT services provider means their standards have been professionally audited to ensure they meet international best practice.

This becomes hugely important when you deal with your own customers. Larger organisations regularly require their suppliers to show extensive compliance with GDPR regulations. If your systems are being operated and stored with an ISO accredited provider, that compliance is much easier to demonstrate.

They offer 24/7 support within the UK

For SMEs, the consequences of a system going down can be more severe than larger organisations, because it is more likely to result in a 100% loss of productivity. Because when you’re working late on a Sunday night and the worst happens, simply writing a support ticket and hoping for the best is not ideal.

Through remote monitoring, an IT managed services provider examines your system on a proactive basis. They can instantly spot a cyber-attack or a system fault. And they will continue managing and supporting you wherever you’re located. It reduces the response to minutes instead of days.

They provide comprehensive cloud solutions

Cloud solutions offer consistent access to the highest level of performance without the need for capital expenditure. Instead of buying expensive equipment, you can get the best tech via a subscription model. A good IT managed services provider will offer flexible, scalable cloud solutions that allow you to create agile user systems.

Nevertheless, what that looks like will depend entirely on your own needs. But that’s the point: it’s about finding the right service level for your business. Some businesses will need managed security, storage, email and access to Office 365. But others will need a more powerful virtual machine capable of handling Computer Assisted Designs, graphic design services or other solutions that require more resources.

And that goes back to our first point about asking the right questions.

They’re happy for you to speak to other clients

A universal hallmark of any provider that over-promises and under-delivers are when they’re a bit cagey about providing references. In short, that’s true for any industry or service, not just this one. But for IT managed services providers, it’s always a good idea to examine what kind of case studies they provide.

Firstly, take the time to figure out if they are similar to your company. Did they have similar objectives and challenges? Is the provider happy for you to speak to the clients involved? It will tell you how confident they are in the consistency of their services and lets you ask questions about things that may not have been mentioned in the testimonial.

Need to speak to an IT managed services provider?

As we said right at the start, usually the businesses in need of support are facing a change of some sort. Defining that business transformation can be tricky. You know you need a solution; however, you’re not sure how to put one together.

To learn more about how you can make the most of cloud services to support, enhance or protect your IT infrastructure, contact us for a free trial or demonstration.