True to the name, a managed service provider (MSP) manages and delivers critical services to clients that require its expertise and experience to maintain business continuity on an everyday basis. MSP clients have easy access to the best technology available and to the MSP’s pool of experts who can handle complex business processes. MSPs traditionally managed IT services such as, cloud responsibilities, applications, networking, infrastructure and security, but now they manage much more. In fact, an MSP is hired to handle all the services that the client does not have enough in-house expertise in. For example, client’s payroll, recruitment and staffing, vendor and contract management, compliance and customer engagement requirements.
The demand for managed services is growing fast. From around USD186 billion in 2019, the global managed services market is estimated to touch over USD356 billion by 2025.
Benefits of having MSP support
Today’s digital overload puts organizations in difficult positions, especially the IT teams. Either there is a manpower crunch, or there is not enough tech expertise to operate and maintain increasingly sophisticated technologies, systems and machines. This shortage spills over to data security and protection too. In 2021, Gartner noted that 71 percent of organizations cited shortage of data protection expertise as a key factor that impacted their ability to deliver and maintain effective data security.
With an MSP in place, internal IT Teams can focus on higher value tasks while freeing themselves from functions frequently outside their core skillsets. The partnership boosts operational efficiency and revenue growth. In addition, the partnership helps organizations avoid the overhead costs involved with maintaining a full team of employees to do the same work.
Best practices for partnering with MSPs
Deciding to partner with an MSP is the first step towards achieving greater efficiency, but organizations must take certain measures along the way to ensure that the partnership will yield the best results possible.
1. Establish your business objectives clearly
Begin the process by establishing clear business objectives. A clear roadmap is crucial for both parties to stay focused. Organizations must understand and communicate clearly what they intend to achieve by bringing in the MSP since different objectives may require different approaches. For example, if a key objective is to enhance customer service, or optimize new technologies, both the MSP and the organization need to be on the same page. Only when they both look in the same direction can they approach and design a solution that both parties can co-manage.
Budget, timeline, technology goals, support needed must all be decided at the beginning. Having a clear idea about requirements and expectations can help in the selection of the most suitable MSP. Clear guidelines help to decide on cost too.
2. Pick the right MSP
Since the selected MSP will be managing and maintaining the organization’s IT services and infrastructure, it is important to pick the right one. The organization must compare different MSPs and pick one that suits them the most in terms of technical support, network monitoring, disaster recovery and software updates. The organization must also review its own IT systems and have a clear idea about its setup. The potential MSP’s track record and compliance records must be carefully reviewed too. If required, the assessments can be carried out by third-party providers.
3. Maintain open communication channels
Once an MSP is selected, discussions between the organization and the MSP must be transparent and detailed to prevent unpleasant surprises later. Roles, process workflows, expectations, requirements and changes from either side must be clearly communicated to the other party. Regular communication facilitates trust and collaboration leading to better decisions and problem-solving. Issues can be sorted quickly.
4. Setup clear SLAs
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between the organization and the MSP need to be clear from the beginning. Services and their expected timelines can be clearly defined and misunderstandings can be avoided. To avoid any legal disputes, the SLA can provide a framework for dispute resolution too. A clear SLA is the secret to smooth operations even if there are any hiccups in the MSP’s services.
5. Establish regular performance review schedules
Organizations must review MSP performance regularly to ensure everything is functioning smoothly. Issues can be identified and resolved on time. Encouraging an environment of transparency ensures the objectives and goals of both parties are aligned at all times.
6. Chalk out growth plans with MSP
To ensure that the MSP has the capacity to support the organization’s future IT requirements, it is important to discuss future needs and growth plans along the way. Planning for growth early ensures that the MSP does not have to be switched at some point in the visible future. Early plans help both parties to prepare and be well-equipped to deliver consistently.
7. Focus on security
Since MSPs work so closely with the client, they have access to confidential information and sensitive data. Security must be given the highest priority to ensure there is no loss of data and subsequent loss of brand reputation. Being proactive enables MSPs to identify and respond to security threats on time. Implementing strong security measures may be costly at first but the expenses are sure to be cost-effective in the long run.
At Cloud Kinetics, our depth of IT expertise and experience places us in a strong position to be a trusted partner for your business and to support your IT teams driving business digital transformation. If you need any info or have questions, we’d be happy to answer them. Reach out today!