How to Evaluate a Managed Service Provider

How to Choose a Managed Service Provider

For many businesses, their IT infrastructure is crucial to their daily operations.  No matter what you use your IT system for, the IT environment can be complex as it consists of connected devices and equipment, programs and software, and on-site and cloud-based storage.  It can be difficult for many businesses to manage, maintain, update, and troubleshoot their IT infrastructure which can result in businesses spending too much time and money to try and accomplish these things.  In many cases, it is more effective and cost-efficient for businesses to work with a managed service provider.

With managed IT services from an IT professional like PSM Partners, a team of experts can manage your IT infrastructure and implement changes to make your IT strategies more efficient and cost-effective.  IT professionals will not only ensure that your system is properly maintained, secured, and updated, but also look for vulnerabilities and inefficiencies and make changes that can save your business time and money.  You can also count on managed services providers to help with expansions and other IT projects.

With a dependable managed services provider, your business can focus on other important business functions.  It is important to choose the right provider of IT services and support to ensure that the functionality and security of your IT infrastructure is in good hands.  In this guide, we will discuss how you should evaluate managed service providers to ensure that you partner with a trusted and skilled professional.

Criteria for Choosing a Managed Services Provider

The IT infrastructure is the backbone of many business operations which is why you should not take the decision of choosing a managed services provider lightly.  IT service providers may have varying levels of experience and expertise and it is important to partner with a professional that is a good fit for your business and your IT goals.

The following are the main criteria you should consider when evaluating and choosing a managed services provider:

1. Skill and Experience

You should look for a managed services provider that has skills that go beyond basic maintenance and operation.  Make sure they have the skill to manage databases, multiple network technologies, security cloud-based technologies, cross-platform integration, and more.  Managed services providers that have a wide range of skills can not only help manage, maintain, and update your IT infrastructure, but also implement strategies to make your IT infrastructure more efficient and secure.

You should also ask about their experience including how long they have been in business, the experience of their staff members, and what industries they have worked with.  It helps to work with a managed services provider that has worked with other businesses in your industry.

2. Proactive Approach

A managed services provider should do more than maintain your IT infrastructure as they found it.  They should also evaluate your infrastructure and establish a plan for the future to promote keeping your system protected.  Implementing changes that improve the performance, efficiency, and security of your IT system will save your business money.

Ask potential providers about their approach to managed services and if they are proactive in evaluating your system and making improvements.

3. Scalability

Sometimes when changes are implemented to the IT infrastructure, it takes a level of skill to implement the changes and manage technological integration needed.  There also needs to be changes made to company processes and organizational structures for the changes to be effective.

Make sure managed services providers have scaling methods to implement new strategies and processes and help ensure that your employees adapt to the changes.

4. Visibility and Accessibility

As managed service providers are managing and developing your IT infrastructure, it is important that they are consistent and transparent with the changes they make as well as the health and efficiency of your IT system. The services they provide should also be accessible to you and consolidated into one place that you can access in real time.

You should ask managed service providers about the accessibility of their services and the level of transparency they provide.

5. Alignment with Your Business Model and Industry Best Practices

There are typically many facets to the IT operations of a business, but it is important for everything to be managed holistically in alignment with your business model and goals.  Make sure that the managed services provider understands your business model and goals and has the flexibility to manage your IT operations according to your unique use case.

You should also make sure that the managed services provider you work with follows industry best practices.  IT service providers committed to industry best practices will provide quality services including continuous improvement of your operations.

6. Cloud Services

Cloud-based storage and technologies are the wave of the future as many businesses have moved many of their operations to public clouds.  However, public clouds are not a perfect fit for every company which is increasing the demand for private and hybrid clouds.  Ask about the ability of the managed services provider to manage a hybrid cloud environment and provide consultation and sourcing options for private cloud infrastructure.

7. Secure Environment 

Security is a moving target and every changing. A managed services provider should not only be bringing you the latest security trends but also the risks to your business. Make sure to ask what security framework the managed services provider will be using and evidence of how they protect their own systems using that same framework.

8. Security Operations Center 

Ask a potential Managed Services Provider if their services are truly 24×7. They should be providing live answer by an engineer and localized support around the clock.

9. Team and Location 

With the rise of the “gig” economy, ask your potential Managed Services Provider if they staff their teams with full-time employees or contractors so support your organization. Also be sure to ask from where they will be accessing your systems from. The Managed Services Provider should not allow access to any of your data from outside of your national location unless you do business in other counties.

10. Compliance and Regulation 

 As security and compliance needs grow, more and more companies find themselves answering security questionnaires. Make sure your Managed Services Provider has qualified staff to assist in this process. The Managed Services Provider should be setting up governance, controls, and artifacts to ensure your business stays compliant. 
 

11. Commitment to Innovation

Proactive businesses are always looking to innovate and develop, and it is important for their IT operations to develop as well.  A managed services provider should be committed to innovation when it comes to managing your IT system so they can implement changes to your system that allow your business to grow and develop.  Ask your potential providers about what your companies 2-year IT roadmap should look like. You should also assess the competitive advantages you can get from each potential managed services provider.

12. Financial Stability

When looking for a managed services provider, it is important to find one that is financially stable and has a reputation of providing excellent services.  Find out how long they’ve been in business for and contact former and current clients for reference of their services and ask prospective IT service providers to show their financial stability so you can trust they will be dependable for the long haul.

13. References and Testimonials

Knowing how a managed services provider has worked with other businesses will give you some good insight in how they will work with yours. Ask for references and testimonials from current customers and check their reviews on listing sites. Current customers’ satisfaction speaks volumes to the quality of service the IT professional is providing.

Managed IT Services from PSM

Managed services providers are more than just another vendor that businesses work with, they are partners that can manage and develop IT infrastructure to grow with your business.  This is why finding the right IT service provider to partner with your business is so important. Their expertise and eye towards innovation can benefit your business for many years.

PSM Partners provides managed IT services for businesses and institutions in the Chicago, IL area.  Our IT professionals will understand your IT infrastructure and always look for ways to improve the performance and efficiency of your system while providing day to day management and maintenance.

You can call PSM at (312) 940-7830 or fill out a contact form to learn more about how our managed IT services can benefit your business.

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