The world is full of managed services providers (MSP’s) Some are good, some are bad, some do not understand what the client wants to and other just want to impose their standards on their clients. You know what they are like, you have to have this and that in place, you have to have this version of operating systems, the most up to date and sometimes the most expensive.
With most MSP’s the standards are very high. But that excellence comes with a cost and sometime the cost is out of reach for small and medium business and not for profit organisations struggling to make ends meet. To most SME’s making payroll is a major effort.
The problem with this problem is that a good MSP will improve a SMB’s bottom line. It would make them function better, more economically and with innovation that will find better ways to do things.
I know how hard it is, an SME needs to decide when that change is possible and how they will handle the transition. Money gets tight but the resulting changes will eventually deliver a better bottom line.
So what do you need to do to make an MSP improve your business;
Know your restrictions and requirements
All business has a requirement to use technology it is just the way of the world today, but the use of technology is not the problem. It is the way that technology is used to drive your business.
When you get involved with an MSP you, as a business, need to know what you want them to achieve. Is it to improve a system, make it easier to support your staff, improve your work flow, or come up with ideas to improve your business. A good MSP is a jack of all trades but he no means a master of none. The technology and ideas that an MSP can bring to the table can be substantive and impressive.
In this respect you need to know what they are going to do. An MSP that comes in and frees up your prize sales person because he is no longer fixing email and printer problems makes your sales department more productive, more productivity means more revenue, more revenue means larger profits.
So as a business you need to know what you want them to do. I recently was involved with a new client, one that we moved onto Office 365. In the transition we sat down with the management team and discussed what it will do. From outlook, email and calendaring to internal web sites and drop box capability. The discussion got very robust because the change would actually move the business forward in a quantum leap. When I left them they were drawing all over the white board and actually changing, for the better, how they do business.
Know their capabilities
All MSP have a capability and capacity statement. As a client ask for it, you need to know what they can do, what are their strengths and weaknesses.
A capability statement will ensure the MSP has the technology and understanding to make you business more robust. They should have an understanding of the four pillars of support:
- Technology – what is the best way to implement it, use it and use it to improve your business.
- Management – from remote management to help desk and phone support. How they monitor and report on your business is important for you to make management decisions.
- Resilience – disaster recovery and business continuity is critical to today’s business to ensure that they will not loss data as well as work time.
- Compliance – your MSP should know how to start a compliance audit, if not complete one. They should know what needs to be in place and what needs to be reported on.
Understand their ethos or their culture
I know this may sound silly but when you engage an MSP you need to know who they are. Not the individuals but the people that you will be working with. the best MSP in the world may have all of the right things in place but if the culture and fit is incorrect there will be friction.
It doesn’t take much to sour a relationship. From An incorrect invoice to a smelly onsite technical is all it can take and it will go down from there and it can go down really fast.
Make sure they are on your side.
All MSP’s are in business to make money. Some are in the business of making vast amounts of money but that is another issue. They should be in business to support their client. Sometimes they are not, sometime their demands are hard to meet and I have known some to threaten their clients with withdrawal of services if a solution is not accepted or accepted there and then.
Do not get intimidated by them, they are suppose to be there to help you, to help you improve your business, not to send you broke.
An MSP can make vast improvements to an SME’s revenue and profit. It can improve your business like nothing else but that will only happen with the right one. All I can say is choose wisely.