How to Choose an Outsourced IT Provider

If you run a mid-sized business, I’m sure you know there are a lot of firms out there to manage your IT needs. At Analytics we think that’s a good thing. There’s a tremendous demand for outsourced IT services and opportunities for differentiation – both in terms of service levels and vertical specialization.

So, if you run a typical midsized company and are trying to identify the best IT managed service provider (MSP) to meet your needs, what questions should you ask them…and yourself?

Are they the right size?
If you want a responsive and personalized MSP experience, don’t be a small fish in a big pond. A large MSP is more interested in serving a company with 200 users than your 20 users. You’ll want personalized service from an MSP whose people will get to know you and your work environment… technicians who will proactively look out for you, not just respond to your inevitable crisis calls.

Do they offer remote and onsite support?

Many MSPs offer only remote/help desk support. They’ll also rely on the “remote agents” they install on your network to fix problems. By default, this level of IT service will be more reactive than proactive. While you certainly need remote support for the immediate “break-fix” and even routine maintenance matters, periodic onsite support:

• Gives your users the chance to raise nagging IT questions they wouldn’t normally approach a help desk with. This drives individual user productivity.
• Allows techs to see how IT is used in your unique environment so they can identify opportunities to move you forward with new or different technology.

Do you need a specialist?

Nearly every outsourced IT provider can support users of third-party, industry-specific applications. But since no provider can be an expert in every application, typically they’ll serve as an intermediary between the client and the support desk of the company that offers that application. After all, techs speaking to techs is a very efficient approach. However, in isolated cases – for example in certain highly regulated industries – a company may want to engage with an MSP that uniquely specializes in that industry and its most commonly used applications.

“Tell me about your techs…”

Be sure to learn about the skills and work arrangements of the techs who will serve you onsite and through the help desk. Ask lots of questions.

• Are they employees? 1099 contracted workers? Part of an outsourced help desk service?
• Do they have expertise and certifications in the areas you’ll need them? Desktops? Servers? Applications? Security?
• What’s the turnover rate for the techs?
• Do you conduct background checks on the techs? Screen for drug use?

Help desk hours

If you’re a major company, you may want live, 24/7 access to help desk technicians. However, most firms are okay with 12-hour live coverage (e.g. 6 am to 6 pm) with answering service access outside of that.

Think long term

While you may initially just need break-fix support or project-specific assistance, think about your possible future needs. Will you be migrating to the Cloud at some point? How confident are you in your network security? Will you need phone system support or ultimately a new phone solution? Make sure the MSP you choose for immediate work can accommodate your growth and evolution in all the IT functions important to you.

“Who have you helped lately?”

Last, ask for references. For example, at Analytics, we’ll put a potential client in touch with two to three of our clients who are of similar size or even in the same industry sector.

Your technology can make or break your company. Be sure choose a reputable outsourced IT firm that has the expertise and capacity to work with you as a partner, providing the ideal combination of reactive and personalized, proactive support.

Interested in how we can help your business? Give us a call or contact us today. We look forward to the conversation.