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3 Essential Factors When Choosing an MSP

Are you searching for a new Managed Service Provider (MSP) to handle your information technology (IT) support? Evaluating MSPs can be challenging, especially if IT is not your area of expertise. More often than not, leaders may prioritize the wrong areas when selecting an MSP, however, it’s crucial to focus on the right factors that matter to your operations. This article will outline the three essential factors you need to focus on when choosing an MSP to help you make an informed decision.


The Challenge of Choosing a Provider

Comparing Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can be difficult because of the technical jargon that may be unfamiliar to non-experts. This can make it challenging to distinguish between them. Many business leaders get so frustrated that they only consider a few areas that make sense to them, such as response time or cost. However, it's important to note that these factors are not the most vital ones to consider. Not all MSPs are created equal, and it's essential to have clarity on an MSP’s fundamental approach to ensure you make the best decision for your business.

The MSP community has “low-maturity” and “high-maturity” service providers. It’s like the difference between a business that provides bookkeeping services and a CPA firm that provides audit and tax services. If you view your IT systems as a “necessary evil,” then a low-maturity provider is often the right fit. On the other hand, if you can’t function without your systems and would be out of business if you lost your data, you want to work with a high-maturity provider. You shouldn’t have to be an information technology (IT) pro to tell the difference. 

What 3 Factors Should You Consider?

When searching for a high-maturity MSP, it's important to focus on more than just their size, location, and experience in your field. Here are three crucial factors to consider when choosing an MSP.

1. Are They Outcomes-Focused

When selecting an MSP, it's important to understand what they value. When low-maturity MSPs describe their services, they may emphasize technical items such as their IT tools, data backup system, and response time. While these are important, a high-maturity provider will prioritize achieving measurable business results that align with your company's strategic goals.

A high-maturity MSP will work with you as a business partner, not just a technology provider. They will help you find ways to improve productivity, reduce labor costs, and drive innovation. They will also help you analyze your data and identify how technology can give you a competitive edge. Additionally, they will help you assess the risks technology poses to your business and provide actionable plans to mitigate them.

To make the most of your technology investment, it's important to know if a prospective MSP is focused on business results or just technology. A provider that prioritizes business outcomes will be better equipped to help you achieve your goals. 

2. Do They Have a Proven Process to Deliver Those Outcomes

To make sure an MSP can consistently deliver these better outcomes for your business, you need to evaluate their processes and procedures. Successful IT operations depend on a well-defined, process-oriented approach. An MSP that lacks this structure cannot reliably enhance cybersecurity, operational efficiency, compliance, or innovation for the long haul.

So, what does a “proven process” look like? At a minimum, it’s something that they’ve documented and can share with you. They can summarize it for you at an executive level and translate it into a handful of key performance indicators (KPIs). This “framework” should be focused on delivering business outcomes – not a bunch of technical metrics.

For instance, one of your business outcome goals might be increasing your team's efficiency. Do they have metrics that track efficiencies? Do they have best practices or technology standards to prevent inefficiencies? Can they translate those standards into specific action items, budgets, and a roadmap of recommendations for you to consider? Every MSP claims to be “proactive,” but few execute with this level of process maturity.

Partnering with a results-driven MSP that follows a structured approach has its benefits. It helps you steer clear of technical details and concentrate on achieving strategic goals. They work at a higher level with you. Plus, they deliver regular KPIs, which offer a reliable method to evaluate the impact of your IT investments. 

3. Is Their Business Healthy, Stable, And Secure

When engaging with an MSP, their internal business operations can have an effect on you. It's important to ensure their business is healthy and stable, and that they uphold strong cybersecurity measures. Here are some key areas to ask about:

  • What is their employee turnover rate? The IT labor market is very competitive, which often leads to high turnover rates and poor service quality. To ensure quality service, it is important to inquire about the average employee tenure of potential team members. Additionally, it is crucial to ask about their onboarding process for new team members joining your support team, as they may not be familiar with your environment.

  • Have they, or do they plan, to engage in mergers and acquisitions? As a client, it's important to be aware of the MSP industry's rapid consolidation. MSPs who merge often struggle to combine teams and business processes, resulting in inconsistent outcomes for clients and higher employee turnover for the vendor.

  • Does the MSP have a third-party audit of its internal cybersecurity? Cybercriminals see MSPs as valuable targets because they can access their clients' information. MSPs need to prove they have strong cybersecurity measures in place to be trustworthy. It's important to follow standards like the CIS Controls and have a third party confirm compliance.

When it comes to your business, choosing the right MSP can have a significant impact on your success. To ensure that your IT operations are aligned with your business goals, it's important to select an MSP with a high level of maturity, structure, process, and discipline. However, it's equally important to conduct thorough research to make sure that the MSP you choose is the right fit for your specific needs and requirements.

At EpiOn, we deliver “Measurably Better IT.” Our proprietary MBIT Framework focuses on seven core business outcomes that lower risks and improve your team's productivity. To learn more about the MBIT Framework and the related metrics in the MBIT Scorecard, contact us today!