Four Key Criteria to Look for in a Managed Services Provider

By Brad Ellison| December 01, 2017

As technology becomes deeply integrated into every layer of business, IT departments are feeling over-extended by the increasing demands to keep up with the latest issues, let alone find time to proactively focus on strategic solutions that could lead to a more profitable future. As a result, more companies are choosing to offset some, or all, of their IT resources with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) who can deliver the necessary capabilities and expertise needed to sustain long-term success in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

Whether you’re in the process of evaluating IT outsourcing or are experiencing unsatisfactory results with your current provider, it’s important to know that MSPs come in many shapes and sizes, offering a wide range of capabilities, methodologies, delivery approaches, and cost models. Before making your decision, be sure to consider the following key areas.

What to Look for in a Managed Services Provider

  1. Business/IT Alignment
    One of the most valuable assets of a Managed Services partnership is having someone who can bridge the gap between business and IT and provide strategic alignment for achieving better business outcomes. Before jumping into a relationship with a new MSP or resigning a contract with your existing one, make sure you’ve clearly defined your business goals for the coming years. This will help you determine which candidates can “speak your language” and provide the strategic support you need to be successful.
  2. Depth and Breadth of Support
    As the pace of innovation accelerates, you may be noticing that your needs are becoming less about hardware maintenance and support and more about business analysis and driving real value through IT strategy. A modern IT “partner” will go beyond basic Help Desk support requests by proactively evaluating new opportunities, map those opportunities to relevant value for your business, and ultimately deliver measurable results.
  3. Change Management
    Often, outsourced IT providers are brought in for short-term, project-based initiatives to build and deploy new technology solutions. However, after launch, the teams disband into other projects and end users are left to figure out how to leverage the new solution on their own. Rarely do today’s internal IT teams have the bandwidth and framework to support end-users through this transition. Thus, it is extremely difficult to realize the full potential of their investment. While technology may be what enables innovation, it’s the people that make it a success. Without a change management and user advocacy strategy, your IT investment and will suffer as the solution won’t be well adapted, leveraged, or supported. It is critical to find a partner who can develop and execute an effective operational change management strategy, fostering exceptional user experience, increased adoption, and increased ROI.
  4. Agility and Future-Proofing
    As the pace of innovation accelerates, you may be noticing that the needs of your business are constantly changing. The right MSP should be able to grow and evolve with your needs. How are they dealing with disruptive areas such as cloud, security, and analytics? Do they have these capabilities currently and/or are they innovating internally to deliver to the future needs of your business? How have they helped others? How do they measure success? In the age of great disruption where the competitive landscape is constantly changing, these are important questions to ask.

Like any relationship, one should only enter into a partnership after careful and long-term considerations. The relationship with your MSP is no different. When chosen correctly, they can create immense business value, help drive revenue, and innovation, provide a better user experience, and improve communication with both internal and external customers. This is critical in today’s competitive landscape where IT drives business forward more than it ever has in the past.

The mid-market movement towards IT Outsourcing