Partnering with managed IT services providers (MSPs) is a game changer for businesses. For an affordable rate, you essentially get an outsourced IT department that looks after your entire system and makes sure it runs smoothly. They’re proficient at dealing with IT problems and have a bevy of solutions to optimize business processes. In fact, MSPs are in such high demand that the market is expected to grow to $309.4 billion in 2025.
But as great as MSPs are, don’t just hire the first one you come across. While every MSP is dedicated to alleviating your IT headaches, they’re not all created equal. Some may focus on general system maintenance, while others exclusively serve specific industry sectors.
Hiring an MSP is a big decision that has lasting impacts on your company. Choose poorly, and you could be locked into a multi-year contract with a company that barely understands your needs. That’s why it’s so important that you thoroughly vet each MSP.
Understand your goals
Before reaching out to MSPs, you must have a clear understanding of your company goals. This requires you to objectively assess your current systems and processes. You may find that your accounting processes are paper-intensive and error-prone, so you need better accounting systems. Or perhaps you’re bleeding money due to frequent downtime and cyberthreats — in which case, you’ll need an MSP that specializes in disaster recovery and cybersecurity services.
Even if there are no glaring pain points in your business, ask yourself what your company is looking to achieve. Your business may intend to cut costs on IT management or leverage the cloud to facilitate long-term remote working strategies.
By establishing your objectives, you can put together a checklist of services and solutions you’ll need from an MSP.
What to evaluate when hiring an MSP
Services and solutions
The first thing to consider is whether an MSP’s services align with your goals. At the very least, a good MSP should offer help desk support, network monitoring, and system maintenance. However, you may have more specific IT needs like cloud services and business phone systems.
Simply check the MSP’s website to see if they offer the services you need. It’s also a good idea to directly inquire with an MSP about their services so you can truly understand what they bring to the table.
Service level agreements (SLAs)
Whatever services and solutions an MSP provides, they must have formal SLAs. These are written contracts that define the levels of service you can expect from an MSP. SLAs will vary between MSPs, but the most crucial elements to look for are response times and uptime guarantees, cybersecurity protections, and specific performance benchmarks.
For instance, a top-quality MSP may guarantee one-hour response times, same-day ticket resolutions, 99.9% uptime, data encryption, and daily backup procedures. If they don’t meet these agreed-upon terms, a reliable MSP should have clauses on how they will compensate your company.
Experience and expertise
The best MSPs are those with long-term industry experience. Since the MSP market is so competitive, providers that have remained operational for over a decade demonstrate that they can effectively adapt to customer demands and technology trends. A high-quality MSP also hires top technicians that are well-versed in various areas of IT like network management, cloud computing, and cybersecurity.
To assess an MSP’s experience and expertise, ask them how long they’ve been in business and get to know their team. Check their certifications and, if possible, interview long-term clients to gauge how well the MSP can support your business.
A great way to find out whether an MSP is the right fit for your company is to look through their portfolio and industry pages. See if they've worked with clients in similar industries. Lighthouse IT, in particular, works with companies in the accounting, legal, insurance, healthcare, and construction sectors.
MSPs that are geared toward a few sectors have greater understanding of industry-specific challenges and can use that knowledge to better support your business. If you’re in healthcare, for example, a healthcare IT specialist will know that your business needs cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions to comply with HIPAA regulations.
While outsourcing your IT to an offshore service provider is a viable option, there are massive advantages to partnering with a local company. For one, local MSPs can provide fast on-site support for resolving technical issues and implementing new technology. They’re also much more hands-on with managing your systems and offer a more personalized experience to your company.
In contrast, working with an offshore service provider means most of your support requests will be handled via phone call where small details can easily be overlooked. So if you run a business in Texas, consider shortlisting local MSPs like Lighthouse IT.
Having an MSP that’s available 24/7 is a must for any business. With 24/7 support, there’s always an expert on the phone who can quickly fix technical issues and get your business back on track. Top-notch MSPs even proactively monitor and maintain your systems to minimize downtime and give you peace of mind.
Managed services pricing will vary depending on the provider, so make sure you partner with one that best suits your budget. Here are the common MSP pricing options:
- A la carte pricing – covers services you specifically requested
- Per-device pricing – charges a fixed fee to manage devices in your company
- Per-user pricing – bills companies for each employee and all the devices they use
- All-inclusive package – provides comprehensive service and support for a flat monthly subscription fee
Can the MSP support your company long term?
The right MSP is a partner that has the resources to support your company for the long haul. Sometimes, this means asking potential MSPs whether they’re financially stable to support your growing business. If you have plans for growth, their services and solutions should be able to scale with your business as its needs change.
Are they taking the time to understand your business?
You can usually tell the difference between a good and bad MSP based on how they interact with you during a consultation. The bad ones don’t hesitate to sell you a bunch of high-end technology to turn a quick profit. They’re also likely to lock you into products and services that make it difficult to switch to a competitor.
Meanwhile, the good MSPs are more inquisitive and ask plenty of questions about your operations and strategic objectives. They analyze your business processes, identify potential gaps in your IT systems, and only make recommendations once they’ve fully understood what your company requires.
If you’re looking for a leading MSP in Texas, go with Lighthouse IT. We provide comprehensive IT support packages and a professional team dedicated to fixing your most complex IT issues. Schedule a free consultation today to get started.