What business owners should look for in a managed IT services provider

What business owners should look for in a managed IT services provider

The main benefit of working with a managed IT services provider (MSP) is gaining a business partner with a clear financial incentive to help grow your business. MSPs charge the same monthly rate whether their clients make one support call or 100, which means they’re the most profitable when their clients’ IT systems are running smoothly and technicians aren’t needed.

Many small-business owners worry too much about which provider has the most advanced solutions or the cheapest plans. Those are important considerations, but after providing more than 20 years of IT support, our happiest Houston clients have consistently cited a few other service guarantees as more valuable.

Proactive monitoring

To get your IT systems running smoothly, you need an MSP that prioritizes an ounce of prevention over a pound of cure. Shortlist providers that promise proactive solutions with 24/7 monitoring and post useful articles and eBooks to their website. An up-to-date blog shows that a provider is actively working toward educating its clients and staying ahead of the technology curve.

A single point of contact

An MSP gives your entire office access to a team of IT specialists. What could go wrong with that? Without a simple, streamlined process for your employees to request tech support, mistakes and miscommunications are bound to happen.

Partnering with an MSP that promises a single point of contact cuts down on issue resolution times because your employees won’t get passed from technician to technician before finally receiving help. The best IT providers are the ones that fix problems quickly and know your business inside and out.

Solution uptimes and support response times

There are two critical things to look for in any MSP’s service level agreement (SLA): its uptime and response time guarantees. The first is a percentage that tells you what the likelihood of a service interruption is. For example, cloud solutions are usually guaranteed to be up and running 99.9% of the time with no more than 10 minutes of downtime per week.

Support response times are measured in minutes and give you confidence that you’ll never need to wait too long for IT assistance. Safebit clients can access a remote helpdesk via our website and receive a response within the timeframe outlined in their SLA.

Industry expertise

Any MSP with a few years of experience can generally provide adequate support for businesses in niche markets, but if you want to get your money’s worth, look for one that specializes in your industry. Every industry comes with its own set of requirements, and a business partner that understands yours will cut the onboarding process in half.

By law, organizations can’t outsource IT support to a provider that isn’t HIPAA compliant. And if you’re in the oil and gas industry, it will be challenging to get your money’s worth out of an MSP that isn’t well versed in the telecommunications solutions and tools that keep your employees connected in the field.

vCIOs with great resumes

If you were hiring an in-house technician, you’d look for someone with a lot of work experience and technical qualifications, right? Picking an MSP isn’t any different. Some providers offer a virtual Chief Information Officer service, which is a dedicated expert that helps you form strategic IT plans and improve business processes via email, chat, phone, video, and sometimes in person. Ask questions like: What certifications do your vCIOs hold? What are their customer service philosophies? How often will I hear from them?

Managed IT services are a natural evolution of tech support in our connected world. Paying a technician by the hour was fine when your office didn’t rely on an internet connection to buy materials, communicate with clients, and sell your products -- but today you need 24/7 support from a wide range of specialists. If you’re still unsure whether managed services can do that for you, download our free eBook to learn more about how it works.