In a time where nearly every business—small, medium, and large—runs on technology, it’s no surprise that many organizations have partnered with outsourced IT service providers to keep everything up and running. Working with a company whose sole focus is to manage and maintain your technology system means one less thing is on your plate. Your IT company is the one that is there when an employee is having trouble with their email, or a printer has gone offline, or you are figuring out how to expand and improve your programs to grow with your business. An outsourced IT provider can be the element of your business that sets you apart from your competition and gives you the tools you need to run efficiently and effectively. But in order to reach this status, it has to be the right outsourced IT provider. Some IT companies just aren’t up to par with others, while some might be great providers, just not the right fit for your type or size of business. So how can you assess if your managed service provider (MSP) is the right one for you, and what do you do if it’s not? Keep reading to find out.
How To Know If Your MSP Is The Right Fit
1- Ask Your Employees
An easy first step in determining if your MSP is rising to the level that you need is to ask your employees. An IT provider should be working with everyone at your company when they are having technical issues such as the dreaded blue computer screen or a broken printer. Not only that, but in addressing these issues, a good MSP will be responsive, communicative, and quick. So, start asking around the office or send out a short survey for employees to identify and rate any experiences they’ve had with your IT company. A promising sign that your outsourced IT company is doing a good job is positive feedback. The goal is for employees to be pleased with the attentiveness of your company’s MSP. An even better sign is employees who haven’t had many technical issues in the first place. This is an indicator that your IT provider is keeping up on maintenance and proactively avoiding problems.
More than that, check with your employees and managers about their personal experience with your MSP and technicians. Technology can seem cold and impersonal, but your IT provider shouldn’t! Your IT company shouldn’t feel like a nameless person at the end of a chat. You and your employees should know your technicians and have a relationship with them! You should feel like your MSP is an essential member of your team, and in your corner trying to help your company grow and succeed. So ask yourself and your employees if that sounds like your provider or not.
2- Check Your Stats
Beyond asking your employees, you should check efficiency and completion statistics. The first thing this implies is that you should actually be getting efficiency and completion statistics data! Your IT provider should be eager to provide you with statistics that show how great they are at doing their job. So, if you aren’t getting any of this information, ask your IT provider if they can provide it to you. Then, you can review this data to ensure that IT tickets and issues are getting resolved completely and in a timely manner. If your IT provider can’t provide this information, or the data you have isn’t reassuring to you, switching IT providers might be something you want to start thinking about.
3- Review Communication
Great IT providers are great communicators. Technology will always have some bugs every now and again, but a superior MSP will continually check in and update you on any projects or fixes in progress. They’ll be honest, transparent, and extremely clear with everything they are doing. So, make sure that’s the case with your IT provider. Do you know what they are working on, or are they just kind of there? It’s not just about how quickly they respond to outreach from you (although that’s extremely important too—you don’t want a provider who ignores you!). It’s also about their communication habits, even when you aren’t reaching out. You want an IT provider that manages your current system, keeping you informed of everything that’s happening, and that is continually working with you on ideas and projects to improve your technology system. If that’s not happening, it may be time to rethink.
4- Ask About Security
The next area you should look into to check if your IT provider is meeting expectations is security. Cybersecurity is so important, and even large enterprises with the best of the best technology and experts can be compromised. So check in with your provider on what your security stance looks like and what they are doing to ensure your data stays safe. If they can’t provide you with specific details and plans, there could be some doubt that they are the best provider to keep you secure. Cybersecurity is complicated—it’s more than just setting up a firewall (although that’s important, and you should check with your provider that your firewall is up and running!). When talking with your MSP, you should walk away feeling confident that they know what they are doing and are protecting your data.
5- Look at Your Bill
Last but not least, IT providers can be notorious for hidden fees and unreasonable or unexpected charges. You might be thinking you’re being charged one thing, but once you actually dig deep into your bill, you realize you’re paying more than you thought for services that you aren’t even sure what they are. If this is the case for you, run! There are so many great providers who are transparent with their pricing and who will ensure that you understand the services you are receiving and your bill down to a tee. This is the type of MSP you want to be working with.
So, you’ve looked over this list and realized that your IT provider isn’t cutting it, now what? Well, it’s time to switch to another provider, of course! Many businesses avoid doing this because it feels impossible. They think IT companies are too entangled in their business, and it will be too hard to transfer everything. Well, the truth is that that’s not true! It’s easier than you think to switch to a new (better) IT provider. Here are some first steps.
Switching to a New Outsourced IT Provider
1- Research New IT Companies
Obviously, the first step is to research new IT companies. But you’ll need to do more than just a quick Google search to do this. I mean, you don’t want to end up with another subpar IT provider again, do you? So, instead of just looking online for whoever pops up first, take your time and do some more in-depth research. This will seem difficult at the beginning, but we promise it’s worth it!
So, talk to business owners in the same area as you and ask them about their IT provider. Do they like them? What are the pros and cons they have noticed while working with them? Look into providers that may have a specialty working with companies in your same industry. Industry-specific knowledge can be extremely helpful because it means your MSP will be familiar with your business model, the types of technology best suited for your industry, and the best ways to approach setting up an integrated system. Every industry is extremely different and uses different technology systems, so finding a provider that has worked in your industry before gives you a leg up on creating an integrated technology system that supports your operations in every way.
Likewise, look into what sizes of businesses certain IT providers normally work with. You might get great feedback on a local provider from friends and contacts, but they might be smaller than what your business needs. Lastly, set up calls and meetings with multiple providers. Discuss pricing and assess how transparent they are. Feel out the people and technicians you will be working with and see if you think they will be a good fit. Often businesses try to find the least expensive option, but a great IT provider that fits in with your culture and organization is often worth paying a little more.
2- Be Open with Your Current Provider and Facilitate Communication
So, this is the part that really scares most businesses—the handoff. But in reality, if you’ve done your work on research, this should be the easiest part. If you’ve found a truly great IT provider, they know how to execute a smooth and efficient transition from one IT provider to another. They’ve done it before, and they’ll be doing it again. They know how to communicate with your current (soon to be previous) MSP, secure necessary information and deliverables, and get you up and running with them without much work on your part at all. Before you know it, you’ll have forgotten about your old provider as you happily walk into the sunset with your new MSP.
So, if it’s time to reevaluate your IT provider, don’t be scared, it’s easier than it looks—and certainly don’t let it hold you back from finding the perfect IT provider for your business. Having the right fit really can make or break your business.