21 January, 2023

What is a managed service provider? How do you find the right one?

A managed service provider (MSP) is a team of IT professionals that partner with you to help your businesses with all your IT needs. They manage and maintain your technology infrastructure management, apps, software, technical support, and anything related to technology. They usually offer these services on a subscription model, including network management, data backup and recovery, remote monitoring, mobile device management and more. But how do you find the right provider? After all, putting your technology in the hands of a managed service provider requires a certain amount of trust. Here, we’ll explore the benefits of managed service providers, how to pick the right one, and why Tech Superpowers stands above the competition.

Managed service provider or managed services provider?

Historically, we’ve seen managed service provider used most often. But as the scope of an MSP evolves, we like to think managed services provider is more accurate (though we know both will be used going forward). After all, the right managed services provider is doing more than just help desk services. They’re an outsourced IT company helping you with everything tech-related from cybersecurity to compliance.

Expertise

One of the main benefits of working with a managed services provider is that it allows you to outsource the management of your IT systems to a team of experts. This is often a more cost-effective solution for companies that don’t have the resources or in-house expertise to manage their own technology. If you plan to hire your own IT team, you’re going to either need to find a jack-of-all-trades type of employee, who likely doesn’t have the deep knowledge on specific aspects of IT like cloud computing or cybersecurity, or you’ll be faced with the incredibly expensive task of hiring an entire team. When your business is just getting started, resources are scarce, and spending your entire budget on an internal IT team can cripple your business from the start. When you partner with an MSP, you get access to their full team of experts.

Staying on top of trends

Another benefit of working with a managed service provider is that they can help businesses stay up-to-date with the latest technology. MSPs are able to provide businesses with access to the latest software and tools, which can help them stay competitive in their industry. They can also help businesses stay compliant with industry regulations, such as those related to data privacy and security. By working with dozens (in the case of large corporations, hundreds) of clients, an MSP is always on top of the latest trends in the industry and able to tackle system vulnerabilities and thwart hacking attempts before they become an issue.

Planning for the future

MSPs can also help businesses beyond improving their day-to-day IT operations. They’re measuring performance and quality metrics to help you plan for the future. The right MSP partner will help your business develop an IT strategy that aligns with your overall business goals, helping you achieve long-term success and transform your technology from a liability to an asset.

Full-time support

One of the most important aspects of working with an MSP is the availability of the support they offer. An internal hire needs to take breaks, go on PTO, and could be dragged into internal projects or company-wide meeting. When you partner with an MSP, you’ll experience no lapse in coverage. MSPs typically offer continuous remote monitoring, which means that they’re staying on top of your systems, often fixing problems before you’re even aware of them.

Questions to ask as you search for the right managed services provider

When choosing an MSP, it’s important to ask the following questions:

  1. What types of services do you offer?

    Make sure the MSP offers the specific services you need, such as network management, data backup and recovery, cloud services, and cybersecurity. While most MSPs offer a wide variety of services for their clients, it’s important to understand what services each offers and choose an MSP that specializes in a wide variety of services. Just because you don’t need a particular service at the moment, doesn’t mean that you won’t need this somewhere down the line.

  2. How do you handle support?

    Find out if the MSP provides monitoring services, and what their response time is for resolving issues. Most managed services providers will offer service level agreements (SLA), a contract that outlines the level of service the MSP will provide, and their guaranteed response times. If technology is crucial to your business running smoothly (which is just about all businesses these days), then ensuring your MSP responds to issues in a timely manner is a necessity.

  3. How do you handle data security?

    It’s important to understand how the MSP handles data security and compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA. This is especially important if you’re in an industry that handles sensitive data such as healthcare or finance. Ask them specifically how they handle your data and what steps they’ve taken to ensure it stays secure. Many MSPs will have more than one answer in regards to their security, relying on a multi-layered defenses to keep your data secure and your cybersecurity up to snuff.

  4. Can you provide references from similar businesses in my industry?

    Ask for references from businesses that are similar to yours in terms of size, industry, and IT needs. What is their experience in your industry? It’s important to work with a reputable MSP that has experience and expertise in your industry so they know what solutions will work best for your organization and can anticipate the possible roadblocks ahead that will need to be solved.

  5. How do you handle updates and maintenance?

    Find out if the MSP provides regular updates and maintenance to ensure that your systems are always up-to-date. This goes beyond just turning on automatic updates. The right MSP will review and manage your system updates, and be up-to-date on when vulnerabilities are discovered on software you’re using. Ask them how often they review your systems and if they regularly schedule maintenance and backup verification.

  6. How do you handle billing and pricing?

    Understand the managed services providers billing and pricing model, and find out if they offer different pricing options. It’s important to be on the lookout for “cookie-cutter” managed services providers. Your organization is unique. Your IT package should be too. Be wary of any managed services provider that gives out pricing easily and gives you quotes without knowing much about your business. If they don’t care enough to put together a package unique to your business, odds are they won’t care about keeping your business secure and your technology running smoothly.

  7. How do you handle communication and reporting?

    Understand how the MSP will keep you informed about the status of your systems and how they will report issues and concerns. While you should designate a specific point of contact in your company to be the main resource for your MSP, you want to find an MSP that is willing to work with everyone in your company, not just a singular point-of-contact. You want your employees to feel comfortable enough that when they run into technology issues, no matter how small, they have someone ready to help them solve their problem.

  8. How do you handle scalability?

    Odds are, in five years your organization is going to look a lot different than it does now. You might be developing new products, expanding your operations, or find yourself in an entirely new industry. Finding an MSP that can accommodate your company’s growth and help you scale your technology is instrumental to keeping everything running smoothly.

By asking these questions, you can get a better understanding of a managed service providers capabilities and ensure that they can meet your business’s specific needs.

In a sea of IT companies, what sets TSP apart from the competition?

We get it. Picking the right managed services provider for your business can be overwhelming. There are dozens of IT companies in the Boston area alone. So in a sea of IT companies, what makes us uniquely qualified to partner with you and keep your technology on track? The answer boils down to three main answers: experience, communication, and process.

Experience

Tech Superpowers has been around since the early 90s (in fact, we just celebrated our 30th anniversary!) While this might make us seem old, it means we’ve been there. Whether you’re a startup venture just getting off the ground, or an established presence in the Boston community, we have the experience and expertise you want in a partner for your managed services. We’ve worked with some of the biggest names in Boston, from the Boston Celtics to new healthcare powerhouse Cohere Health. No matter where you are in your company’s lifecycle, we’re ready to step in and be there for the long haul with you.

Communication

No company defies the stereotype of the IT guy hiding in a server closet quite like we do. Not only are all of our technicians friendly and directly helping clients, they’re all Boston-based. While a lot of work is falls under the umbrella of remote support these days, there’s something refreshing about knowing the person solving your IT problems is just down the street.

On top of this, all of our clients’ enjoy regular touchpoints with our team. That means we’re not just showing up when something is broken. We’re always in communication with you, providing feedback and ideas on how we can further improve your systems. We want to know how you’re doing and how we can make things run even better.

Process

You might have heard the saying, “Without standards, there can be no improvement.” For us, everything from server maintenance down to a password reset is backed by tried and true processes – our standard operating procedures (SOPs). No task is too small to get an SOP, even across our admin and marketing teams. Perhaps that feels like overkill? We like to think of it as an added layer of protection, ensuring when we do something for you, we’re doing it right.

Where do we go from here?

Like we said, no matter where you are in your journey, we’re here to help. Whether you just have a few small technology projects you need done, an audit of your cybersecurity protections, or full-coverage IT support, we’d love to chat with you. Contact us today and let’s get the ball rolling!

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