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Hackernoon logo6 Key Things To Look For In A Managed IT Service Provider by@peter-dowson

6 Key Things To Look For In A Managed IT Service Provider

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@peter-dowsonPeter Dowson

The global managed services market is estimated to grow to more than 300 billion US dollars (about 403 billion AUD as of this guide’s writing) by 2025. This is a staggering increase compared to 2020’s forecast of $200 billion (about 269 billion AUD).

Many organizations today choose to outsource their computing and IT-related tasks to cut costs and to be able to focus more on their core business. Aside from that, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) allow businesses to tap into their nearly boundless technical capabilities.

To truly benefit your business, however, you need to carefully choose a provider of managed IT services. A bad relationship will cost you time and money. Not only that, but rebuilding your IT system after breaking free from a subpar service provider is a challenge of its own.

If you are looking to switch your Managed IT Service Provider or are about to engage with one for the first time, here are the key things to consider.

6 Key Things To Look For In A Managed IT Service Provider

1. Do they try to adapt to the needs of your organization?

Most Managed IT Service Providers will ask about your business – what your values are or what you are expecting from the engagement. But some companies will ask such questions only to tick boxes and will not meaningfully employ this information down the road.

Every business has its own challenges, goals, and capabilities. The services provided to you need to reflect your needs and be perfectly adapted to them.

During early communication, if the IT service provider focuses more on what they can offer rather than what you have said, they likely won’t be delivering a service tailored to the demands of your company.

2. Do they outsource their support desk overseas?

Your MSP should not outsource their support desk to employees located overseas.

Impeccable technical expertise undeniably is a must for any MSP, and remote workers can indeed be masters of their profession. However, if they are not native communicators in your language, they may struggle to fully grasp your issue.

IT consultants that outsource their support functions overseas may not be able to provide you with the quality and promptness you desire and deserve. This especially applies to locations where English is not the first language – non-native speakers may have trouble precisely understanding your wishes and concerns.

3. Do they have separate Service Delivery and Project teams?

Clear role separation is crucial to avoid confusion and ensure smooth day-to-day operation. 

Role separation makes sure that teams within the Managed IT Service Provider are not overburdened with assignments and can effectively respond to your requests.

With that in mind, your IT consultant should have separate Service Delivery and Project teams.

Service Delivery teams work with you on an ongoing basis to maintain your system's stability and access.  They maintain “business as usual” and provide regular reports on how well they’ve been able to do the job. In essence, their job is to maintain the status quo.

One-time projects are entrusted to Project Delivery teams. The assignments have a beginning and an end, and the team moves to another project after completing the first one.

Examples of one-off projects are major product installations, client onboarding, or security reviews, which may take weeks or even months to complete. Needless to say, you don’t want the same team to be responsible for your everyday operations and short-term projects because you don’t want either team to take their eye off your system or project.

4. Do they have a separate Service Delivery Manager and Service Desk Manager?

Aside from separate Service Delivery and Project Delivery teams, Managed IT Service Providers should have separate Service Delivery Managers and Service Desk Managers.

A Service Delivery Manager oversees the continuous process of all service delivery to your business. On the other hand, a Service Desk Manager is responsible specifically for day-to-day service desk operations.

These roles are quite distinct – Service Delivery Managers are responsible for ensuring that you receive your deliverables, while Service Desk Managers handle your organization’s service requests and issues.

Some Managed IT Service Providers may fuse these roles together to cut employment costs.

Typically, this is done by small Managed Service Providers with limited budgets.

Separation of these two roles is critical for large and demanding customers. It avoids confusion, makes the MSP’s workflow more efficient, and ensures that your needs and goals are met.  Additionally, it shows that the Managed Service Provider is big enough to get the job done correctly.

5. Does their reality of operation match the hype?

Pretty much all MSPs put enormous effort into polishing their websites and portfolios. But how polished are they from within?

Many Managed IT Service Providers won’t let you see behind the scenes in their organisation because it doesn’t quite match their advertised image. On the other hand, a well-organized MSP will have neat and tidy premises. Besides, you can assess the work conditions of the employees by how enthusiastic the service desk team sounds on the phone.

Internal organization may seem trivial, but it shows attitude. If a Managed Service Provider puts little to no effort to ensure that its internal cogs are well-lubricated and turn in unison, can you really expect to receive top-notch service from them?

6. Do they measure customer feedback with every interaction?

80% of customers will switch companies because of poor customer experience. 

Any MSP will inevitably make mistakes. But when an IT Service Provider does make a mistake, it should measure customer feedback and use the gained insights to improve future interactions and ensure customer satisfaction.

A Managed IT Service Provider must be customer-centric – no exceptions. You must be sure that you are working with a service provider that takes customer feedback into account. The MSP must be able to adapt to the needs of its customers. 

If they cannot do something simple as this, they most likely won’t be able to adapt your IT infrastructure to rapidly changing market trends as well.

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