Historically, during challenging times, budget holders have always been tasked with managing costs and driving efficiencies in their businesses – and the outsourcing of managed services is a key route to achieve this. Here is some expert advice on choosing a managed service provider (MSP), so when you make that change you’ll experience the best results.

1. Understand What Managed Services Can Do For You

You may be trying to drive down costs, maintain competitive advantage or manage resources – but you still have to provide the IT systems and processes that allow your organisation and its people to effectively serve customers. This is where a good MSP can help by providing the extra hands to help you deliver against these business needs. The best MSPs will continue to improve as you become savvier about requirements – and adapt their services to your business growth, shrinkage, change and evolution.

2. What You Should Expect

Ideally, a good MSP should give you the piece of mind that your IT environments are secure, managed and optimised for your needs. This means having experienced technicians that deliver daily IT management of your environment, allowing you to focus on your core business challenges. You should also expect to experience uninterrupted access to systems at anytime – from anywhere and reduced risk, downtime and vulnerability. Therefore, look for an MSP that delivers on ITIL best practice, has dynamic monitoring solutions, strong partnerships and a proactive ownership mentality across its services.

3. A Culture Of Accountability & Proactive Improvement

Define your success criteria at the start of the relationship. This enables an MSP to match and enhance those criteria along the journey – to ensure that the initial promises are kept. A good MSP will always demonstrate that it’s constantly improving performance and driving down costs through a proactive mentality of preventing issues before they arise. They should always take responsibility for any aspect of your support services and deliver tailored, and measured SLA’s to suit your business requirements. Look for an MSP that has a culture of ownership, responsiveness and true accountability to provide the high levels of service you insist on.

4. Look For Tailored Approach – With Flexibility

Every organisation demands something different from their service provision- a MSP must examine and address these. For example, for the IT department, maintaining the infrastructure and keeping users online may be crucial, but not necessarily what they want to focus on. Another focus may be how to free up the IT department to spend more time on the core IT strategy and support the wider business? Although all managed services must be tailored around your individual needs and specific business requirements – they must also be able to evolve and improve as your organisation becomes more specific about requirements. A managed service delivered correctly can ensure that as a business grows, shrinks, changes, evolves – so does the service.

5. Trusted Advisor – Shared Values

You may have found an MSP that ticks all the boxes, but the final ingredient for a successful relationship is trust. You need to be sure that they possess values that mirror your own and that your environment will be properly managed. Look for a provider that can deliver a personal investment in your relationship, with a flexible approach to service delivery – to ensure a more effective, enduring partnership.

6. Proven Heritage

Look at MSPs that possess a rich heritage and that can produce testimonials to demonstrate its history of successful service delivery and customer satisfaction. Gaining an understanding of the company through its customers, will be the next best thing to first-hand experience of the service you’ll be receiving.

7. Happy & Well-Trained Staff

Ask the MSP to reveal figures on its staff retention over the past 5 years.  High staff retention is a good indicator of a well-managed supplier. Empowered and well-trained staff will be able to deliver quick, informed decisions, something which will have a positive impact upon the service delivery levels you receive. Also, look for evidence of an MSP that employs  schemes that encourage the influx of new, innovative, talent. With potential skills shortages starting to impact the IT marketplace, you should always look for a supplier that nurtures young talent and has levels of experience required to successfully deliver your service.

8. Financial Health Check

Lastly, investigate potential MSP’s balance sheets and profitability. You will be placing your business-critical IT in the hands of this company, so it’s imperative that they will be around for the next three to five years to fulfil your contract.