Choosing the right Managed Services Provider (MSP) to partner with is as difficult and as important a decision you’ll ever have to make in ensuring your organisation is charting the right course for effective digital transformation.
Respondents to our recent ‘The Transforming Role of IT in Australian Mid-Market Organisations’ survey reported that it was in their top 3 challenges for 2019, behind only technology ‘integration’ and ‘budget’.
Because new technologies enable and encourage organisations to develop a more granular understanding of their specific operations and markets, as well as the fact that they’re becoming increasingly critical to every part of an organisation, IT teams and the wider organisation need to be more particular when they’re choosing partners. This is to ensure that whoever they select to work with, which will inevitably be on a long-term basis, is best able to understand and respond to their specific needs both now and into the future – providing them with precisely what they need, when they need it.
In response, a growing number of MSPs are prioritising adaptability and agility within their own business models and processes, a trend the tech industry has dubbed ‘Managed Services Provider 2.0’ or classing them as ‘evolved Managed Services Providers’. So, how can you improve the match-making process and ensure your organisation can identify and partner with a Managed Services Provider that’s on the right side of history?
Here’s our top 10 Managed Services Provider 2.0 traits to look for:
Proactive IT security beyond what’s critical
Most Managed Services Providers will patch critical weaknesses under their SLAs, but will often leave ‘medium’ and even ‘high-risk’ issues alone, and not even tell you about it if you haven’t paid for that level of insight. A credible 2.0 Managed Services Provider will not only regularly document and share what these weaknesses are, but will also patch them as they arise as a matter of course.
Broad range of strategic expertise as well as in-depth specialisations
Australian IT skills shortages and the growing demand for specialist expertise is driving a concentration and pooling of skills within top-level Managed Services Providers. Being able to engage an expert in any particular area at any given time could be invaluable not just now but also in the future as threats arise or situations and technologies change.
Self-service and automation
Your Managed Services Provider should provide full visibility of the work they’re doing and how to control it, simply. It doesn’t need to involve more calls and emails, rather self-service portals that enable you to provision, cancel and understand how your service is being delivered at any time online. Automation isn’t a way of reducing work for the Managed Services Provider, rather a way for you to get a better, faster and more accurate service.
Customer satisfaction guarantees and prescribed escalation protocols
Beyond guaranteeing up-times and standard timescales, ask what else your Managed Services Provider is doing to link your success with theirs. Do they offer real-time dashboard of all comments and CSAT scores given by your people after engaging with them? Also ask about the ability to escalate concerns directly to senior management beyond the operational-level.
Quick-to-respond, looking for long-term engagement, and a desire to be the ‘one throat to choke’
A Managed Services Provider looking to engage with you in the long-term, investing their time and resources over an extended period to help you to manage and refine your existing functions, and who is willing to put their reputation and fee on the line is an organisation that’s more likely to be looking out for your best interests.
Flexible models and strong SLAs
Anything resembling ‘one-size-fits-all’ is a definite warning sign you’re unlikely to get a solution tailored to your needs and read the fine print around SLAs. For instance, do they include a first-fix guarantees? A fully-customised service sometimes comes with a higher price tag, but there should be a willingness to help develop and then implement the right offering and service level to meet your needs.
Provides an on-site service with a full team in support
Beyond developing a solution tailored to your needs, your Managed Services Provider should be willing to integrate itself and be part of your organisation. Ideally a team member of theirs will sit within your IT team on a full or part-time basis to absorb and better understand your culture and long-term business goals and a wider team of experts sits off-site, ready to assist at a moments notice. This approach means that they’re better positioned to quickly identify and address systemic issues, improving instead of simply fixing.
Regular assessment and ‘out-of-scope’ forums
A truly progressive Managed Services Provider should make it easy for its clients to access the extensive expertise it has at its core. This could be anything from regular newsletters and the sharing of trend data so that you can build your own expertise, or through regular workshops or ‘drop-in’ clinics where you’re able to pose questions beyond the scope of your agreement and day-to-day needs.
Multi-partner and vendors
Managed Services Providers wedded to a single technology partner or who are unable to work with your preferred technologies mightn’t be able to give you what you need. Most will have their preferences, but try to ensure this is due to ‘best-in-class’ reasons, rather than financial ones such as profit margins.
Size and scale
It can be tempting to look at ‘boutique’ Managed Services Providers marketing specific expertise to niche markets and assume they must offer a more tailored, personalised approach. However, you mightn’t necessarily be getting the right service, nor the right price. Limited understanding of broader technology trends and the holistic relationships between different business functions could mean you forfeit deeper insights. Meanwhile, smaller teams often mean longer service times or an inability to provide round-the-clock support, plus their collective experience is invariably limited compared with bigger Managed Services Providers.
Brennan IT has been at the vanguard of Australia’s Managed Services Provider industry for 20 years, evolving into a genuine 2.0 partner ready to equip organisations on their inevitable journeys towards digital transformation and offering leading IT security and risk management services to help you improve your organisation’s approach to security. Connect with us today and ask about our credentials.