If people are the heart of your business, then it could be said that technology is its central nervous system, responsible for relaying information, making connections and ensuring every area is able to function. This means the health of your IT systems is of utmost importance, something that should only be entrusted to experts. Your managed service provider (MSP) is among the most important relationships for your organisation. Ideally, they help you to work more efficiently and to improve the service you give your own customers.
So how can you tell if it is a healthy relationship, and what can you expect from your Managed Service Provider?
Unless you’re a fan of wrestling with servers at 3am, after-hours service options are a must. Beyond that, though, preventing 3am problems is a great idea, so it is worth checking what preventative system health measures are available. The right system monitoring can save a world of pain, not to mention costly downtime. Your MSP should be proactive enough to talk to members of your team, and to check on each visit if there are any niggling issues they’d like addressed.
Speaking of downtime, your MSP should work with you to determine an acceptable service level for each type of application. For some organisations, it may be easy to manage a few hours without lower priority applications, while online sales and email are essential round the clock. Don’t be afraid to push for guarantees if your business relies on very high reliability.
Like any relationship, honesty is crucial from your MSP. Sometimes, that means being willing to tell you what you don’t want to hear. It also means absolute transparency – after all, it is your business. If your MSP tells you of issues as soon as they arise, you have a better chance to deal with them without impacting your operations.
A great MSP won’t just tell you about ‘business as usual’ matters; they will be your eyes and ears in the industry. One of the most common reasons our new customers tell us they switched MSPs is that they had received little advice about relevant IT trends that affected their business. Your MSP should go beyond keeping the lights on your infrastructure. They should be actively identifying new opportunities that will benefit you.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can afford to drop the ball on day-to-day functions. When planning changes, a strong MSP will provide detailed advice about compatibility between software applications. You can reasonably expect to stay informed about expiring operating systems and hardware warranties well in advance. This gives you a chance to make informed decisions about updates and replacements.
Nobody wants to scramble to make changes on the fly.
Preparing for the unexpected is an important part of what we do as a managed service provider. Ensuring your backup data is recoverable, testing out UPS functionality for when there’s a power cut, working closely with all the relevant staff to test out disaster recovery plans.
Finally, while it may sound old-fashioned, we firmly believe that manners and etiquette go a long way. A friendly greeting, a willingness to openly explain any aspect of your systems, and a listening ear when needed.