How to select an MSP
by Charles Weaver, JD | Jun 25, 2019
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With so many terrific options available, customers need to be able to have a reliable methodology for identifying, vetting, and selecting the right MSP.
Fortunately, there are a few helpful tips we can provide to help almost any customer make the right managed services choice. Here they are.
Finding an MSP is an easy one. Unlike twenty years ago, finding an MSP today is quite easy. Just do a quick Google search, and you’ll find a list of MSPs for almost every criteria: geography, market vertical, vendor expertise, etc.
It could be argued that companies calling themselves MSPs are so plentiful that finding an MSP is the easiest part of the selection process. Yes, several lists are floating around out there, but without additional information, these lists are mainly useless (more on this later).
Especially amongst younger generations, a lot of research goes on before initial contact is made. This means you need to have better than a rough idea of what it is you are looking for in an MSP. Initial vetting might look at technical certifications, geographical locations, vertical experience, and several other characteristics which are easily obtained from the website.
Other than for security, there shouldn’t be many reasons why an MSP would not be forthcoming on their website about what they do, where they are located, general markets they serve, and other similar bits of data. Either way, assuming you do have a good sense of what you need to accomplish with the MSP, have a list of written questions and objectives and attempt to answer as many of them as possible from the website. This process will be of immense help later on.
There are three general areas of vetting all customers should put their MSPs through before signing an agreement. First, you should have a technical review of the MSP to make sure there is technical alignment. Some MSPs only work on Windows machines while others specialize in AS 400. Whatever your unique criteria happen to be, have the question written down. It will be a lot easier, trust me.
Next, there should be a business vetting of the MSP, to ensure there is alignment on such issues as the contract language, payment terms, insurance coverage, risk assignment, and other non-technical issues are fully disclosed and agreed upon. Do not, under any circumstances, stop your vetting at the technical level. An MSP should be capable of performing the technical services but should also be able to comply with your fundamental business needs as well.
Finally, the MSP should be able to produce all this information in an easy to consume fashion. Some MSPs respond to these itemized questionnaires from customers and are used to doing so. The point is, the answers to all these questions should not be difficult to find and should be readily available to anyone asking.
The longer it takes you to respond to security, business continuity, corporate health, and other pertinent questions, the more trust you risk losing. How you deliver your managed services should be a simple response that is as natural as drawing breath. And, customers are now very used to asking these questions and measuring how the MSP responds.
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