4 things to look for in an MSP
Deciding which managed IT services provider (MSP) to contract with is the most significant decision in the onboarding process.
You want to make sure whichever provider you chose will both solve your IT needs and build a professional relationship with you.
As an MSP, here at the KR Group, some of the qualities we strive for and believe the best MSPs possess include:
- Employing a highly technical workforce
- Ensuring customer satisfaction
- Communicating with customers clearly
- Pursuing innovation
While the best MSPs try to exceed your expectations in every area of services, these four aspects are paramount for providers to stand out in the world of managed IT services.
1. Great MSPs employ a highly technical workforce
From an engineering perspective, highly technical staff is imperative to address your IT needs and provide quality service.
Quality MSPs have the ability to solve all of your IT problems without having to repeatedly escalate it to a more qualified engineer.
One of the benefits of managed IT services is the ability to rely on the knowledge of highly-skilled engineers. Since MSP engineers allocate their knowledge and time to multiple organizations, you have access to the knowledge and skills of an IT engineer who otherwise might be out of your budget.
Great MSPs should take advantage of the business model of managed IT services and employ multiple, qualified engineers to address complex issues with multiple companies at the same time.
In addition to knowledgeable engineers, great MSPs have a highly technical leadership team.
When not only the engineers but staff all the way up to the managers and executives understand the complexities of IT, you (and other customers) only benefit.
MSP Hiring Pro Tip: Ask your prospective MSP what training and certifications their MSP engineers and managers have and what IT experience their upper management has.
2. Great MSPS clearly communicate
Great MSPs are also great communicators – although communication is key for all service providers, regardless of the industry.
When your IT network has an issue and you’re waiting for an MSP engineer to resolve it, communication from your MSP can help set your expectations and assure you that they’re looking into your problems.
Things you want clear communication on from your MSP:
Many MSPs offer contracts for 1, 3, 5, or more years. During this time it’s important your MSP will communicate with you on any daily or weekly problems and your agreement as a whole.
Good MSPs will schedule recurring reviews to ensure they’re meeting your expectations through the term of your contract.
This cadence allows a chance for you and your engineer to check-in outside of handling pressing issues.
You can evaluate what is going well, what isn’t, and if anything needs to be changed moving forward.
MSP Hiring Pro Tip: Ask your prospective MSP how often they schedule reviews and what they go over in them.
They’ll explain if there are any conditions for holiday or after-hour rates, and what your monthly fee covers.
They’ll also run through what situations would fall outside of your contract and will cost you time and material.
For example, if you have a contract for 75 users and need to add another user, set up will fall outside of your agreement for 75 users. User number 76 will fall outside of your agreement until they’re incorporated into your monthly billing cycle – which varies across providers.
MSP Hiring Pro Tip: Ask your prospective MSP to break down how they quoted your cost of managed IT services.
3. Great MSPs ensure customer satisfaction
Communication correlates with how satisfied (or unsatisfied) you are with your MSP.
Poor communication can leave a bad taste in your mouth toward an MSP. On the other hand, great communication can ease even the most unfortunate of circumstances.
Communication isn’t the only part of the customer satisfaction picture, though.
One of the more important tenets of customer satisfaction is response time.
MSPs triage IT requests based on their implications. (If a non-critical Windows application isn’t working, it won’t receive the same priority as a network failure halting production at a manufacturing plant.)
However, you should not have to wait weeks to have even a minute request fulfilled, and a reputable MSP will keep the line of communication open to update you on receiving, scheduling, and fulfilling the request.
Great MSPs not only communicate with you about response time, but they also ask for your feedback on response time and other service-related issues in a customer satisfaction survey.
Customer satisfaction surveys are a straightforward way for MSPs to ensure they’re meeting your needs and to learn what areas they can improve in.
MSP Pro Hiring Tip: Ask your prospective MSP what their customer satisfaction scores are and how they triage requests.
4. Great MSPs pursue innovation
Great MSPs are also capable of leading you into the future of technology.
Education institutions, which are a frequent candidate for managed IT services, can rely on a reputable MSP to help them implement technology into their classrooms as it becomes increasingly pervasive.
Likewise, in industries like manufacturing or shipping, the Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging technology, which promises to take companies into Industry 4.0.
A reputable MSP will work with you to implement the new technology available for your industry.
MSP Hiring Pro Tip: Ask your prospective MSP how they’re planning to accommodate emerging technologies.
How to find a great MSP
When you’re looking for a company to provide your managed IT services, you want to make sure you choose a great MSP.
You don’t want to worry about communication issues, lacking customer service, or the inability to meet your innovation goals.
Having a highly technical staff also ensures your provider knows how to solve even the most complex of your issues.
When you’re reaching out to MSPs you’re hoping to work with, we encourage you to ask them about their customer satisfaction scores, response time, and communication policies.
And, if you’re looking for an MSP you can trust with your IT environment, we’ve compiled a list of reputable MSPs in West Michigan. You can also learn more about what managed IT services through The KR Group look like in our review article.