23 October 2019

How to Choose an MSP

A Managed Services Provider (MSP) allows you to outsource the management of your IT and technology to a trusted partner, instead of hiring the expertise in-house. Many businesses have found that working with an MSP can cost less than hiring full-time staff while also avoiding the hassle of recruitment, training, benefits, time off, and other administrative burdens.  

However, outsourcing your IT needs to a third party can be a daunting prospect, especially when they will be responsible for the security of your sensitive data and selling you highly technical services. 

So, how do you go about choosing an MSP for your business? Here’s a well-rounded guide of things to look for to get you started:

Expertise and Knowledge

The bread and butter of any MSP is their ability to deploy solutions that actually fit the needs of your business. In order to do that, they’ll need to be equipped with the expertise to see where the current vulnerabilities and opportunities are. 

When the technological landscape of IT is constantly shifting and evolving, MSPs will need to have a sound understanding of both historic best practices and trending recommendations. Not only that, but they’ll need to understand the compliance and regulatory environment too. 

For example, does your business need to store all of its customer data in Canada? If so, a local server network design might be better than using a cloud-based alternative where Canadian data residency may be unavailable. Alternatively, you might benefit from a cloud-based network setup to benefit from built-in security, guaranteed accessibility, rapid scale, cost savings, and predictable budgets. Your MSP should consider your options carefully, and present the pros and cons of each to help you make the most informed decision. The question is: how do you know if your MSP can walk their talk?

Make sure that your prospective MSP has worked with some other well-known businesses — they’ll often have them listed on their website. You may even go so far as to reach out to one of those companies for a reference, especially since your MSP will be an ongoing partner and not a one-stop-shop for services. 

A good tip for gauging the expertise of an MSP is to have them conduct an audit before moving ahead — they’ll consult you and your business and generate a report of what their recommendations are. During this process, you’ll get a feel for their character as well as their skills. Don’t let any MSP sell you services without knowing where your current IT situation is. 

Flexible, Scaleable Support

One of the prime benefits of working with an MSP is their ability to work during hours your business doesn’t. MSPs will often have staff or support measures in place to ensure your business is maintained and protected even when you’re not there, including weekends for a 24/7 solution. Making use of remote technology, experts can log in to your systems to fix issues or perform updates as needed, without having to come into your place of work. 

Similarly, MSPs can increase that level of support quickly, adjusting staff schedules and services as your business grows. In order to do this, a training and employee support programme is essential to help your team understand any new changes and empower them to train others as they join, which an MSP may do on your behalf depending on your unique situation.

Business and Workflow Options

Any MSP worth their salt will have a strong understanding of the most common hardware and software IT technologies, then recommend the best tools to fit your needs and budget. However, a good MSP will be able to recommend business tools and applications beyond that to help you optimize your efficiency.  

For example, they might advise on the pros and cons of various CRM solutions or project management software.  Commonly, an IT service provider will help organizations think about their data and workflow to build efficiency for collaboration with team members.  By selecting the right solutions with appropriate integrations, your team will be able to collaborate live on documents, work faster, become more tech savvy, and ensure they’re always using the latest technology available to business. 

An MSP may look for added business value in this arena among others, including video software for meetings, team chat tools, project management software, and more for a full optimization of your business workflows.

Security and Backup Services

One of the key reasons for investing in an MSP is to ensure your files and data are safe from cyberattacks. Not only is this critical in terms of protecting your business and your customers, but the safeguarding of data is also a legal requirement in some industries. Often, this is where internal IT departments can use the greatest support and expertise.

Your MSP will recommend endpoint protection and network security solutions in order to combat the rapidly-moving assault of harmful software. Additionally, they should ensure any compliance or legal considerations are catered for in this regard (experience helps here). 

Your MSP should also implement backup software in order to fetch your most recent data in the event of a breach. Part of this backup process will involve setting up automation where possible, a simple restoration plan to follow, and a no downtime policy if possible. 

With a sensible security and backup plan in place, you can rest assured knowing your business will continue to run smoothly. This is especially important when downtime can cost you more than you might think from lost sales, brand damage, and lost customers. 

Lastly, ask about the MSPs track record.  Have they had ransomware or other data breaches?  

We Can Help

We’ve spent years learning the ins and outs of what makes a good MSP. That’s how we’ve built our business to what it is today. 

In fact, we’ve narrowed our guiding values down to three simple concepts. Solving, not selling. Relationships, not technology. Working smarter. 

Through those values, we ensure that we always present a considered, graceful solution in place without overselling or underselling you. 


About Red Rhino

Red Rhino provides Managed IT Services, Support and Consulting to businesses in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley including Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, Delta, and White Rock.