Strategic partner or transactional supplier? 5 easy ways to define the value of your MSP relationships

Your Managed Services Provider (MSP) is, as the name says, a provider of expert IT managed services for you and your company. However, you can gain a significant amount of extra value from your MSP if you think of the “P” as a partner instead. 

For any company, the largest cost they have to pay from their IT budget is for professionals to operate and maintain their IT infrastructure. In the past, these professionals would need to be hired in-house. This would work out as a costly recruitment process. Now, thanks to the advancement in communication speeds and IT management tools, many companies are turning to MSPs to manage their IT systems remotely.

Using an MSP could provide a number of benefits to your company, including:

  • Reducing recruitment costs
  • Maintaining all your IT management requirements in one centralised place
  • Keeping up-to-date with new technologies and compliance concerns (e.g. cybersecurity)

However, you need to ensure that you’re working with the right MSP for your business to enjoy these benefits. The MSP you partner with will have the ability to impact your business in a strategic (e.g. aligning with business KPIs) and transactional way (e.g. updating systems). You want that impact to be positive. In other words, choose your MSP carefully. Our points below should help you do just that.

Understanding the value an MSP could bring to your business

It’s a good idea to approach finding the ideal MSP for your business in the same way you would for an in-house hire. You want both sides to be clear on how a partnership will work.

Ask a lot of questions! 

Your MSP will not only be dealing with requirements such as keeping your firm’s firewall intact and updated. A successful relationship between you and your MSP will also need your MSP to fully understand your business values.

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Read about how to get maximum value from your Managed Services Provider here >>

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Just think about it. Your MSP might be managing your IT infrastructure needs remotely (which is no small part of a company’s operation), but they will also be representing your business. They will need to run this technical remit the same way you would in terms of the decisions they make to keep your IT mapped with your overall business strategy.

The five questions below will help you identify, and work with, your ideal MSP.

1. Could you please share your experience of working with firms in our industry?
One of the best ways to find a great MSP is to ask about their past experiences working in your industry. To use an old-fashioned term, “book learning” and hands-on experience make a powerful combination when managing the IT network for a large-scale business. At Arkphire, we share our customer list and testimonials to reassure prospective clients that we’re veterans in our industry. Our testimonials also reassure prospective clients of our years of experience in many different industries.

2. What IT Managed Services do you provide?
Not all MSPs provide all the same services. You’ll need to be clear on the requirements your business has now and will have in the future, to ensure you can have all your requirements met by your MSP. Sure, there are the known knowns, the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns (to co-opt Donald Rumsfeld’s famous quote for IT purposes). You can’t plan for every eventuality. However, you’ll want an MSP who can adapt to your needs as your company scales and grows. An MSP that provides a variety of managed services will be able to respond to your unique requests. 

3. How do you handle cybersecurity for your clients?
Cybersecurity is already a huge topic, and will only become more so as the 4th Industrial Revolution continues at a pace. As you develop a conversation with your chosen MSP, you need to investigate just how they approach cybersecurity for their clients. If your customers’ data gets compromised, it’s your head on the block. You can reduce the risk of this happening by finding out what kind of protected environment your MSP can build and maintain, for your business. Find out what type of firewall and virus solutions your MSP uses, how they monitor for vulnerabilities in your system and they ensure all remote devices are protected.

4. How quickly do you respond to your clients?
Time is money. How quickly your MSP responds to your requests will help you understand how professional they are and help you keep your losses to a minimum. A good MSP will have policies in place that they can share with you on how they respond to customer requests. Ask for these; they will give you a sense of how your MSP deals with both day-to-day and unexpected requests.

5. Do you understand my business goals and values?
On the face of it, this is a question more oriented to culture-fit. And it is. But it’s by asking this question that you’ll open up a way to extract the strategic value that an MSP can bring. You need to understand how well your MSP will work with your current system and employees and really become the partner you need.

Partner with an MSP and enjoy success

A high quality MSP can save you a lot of headaches as they handle the technical side of your business. You’ll still be in the driving seat as you can view what your MSP is doing to manage your IT infrastructure in real time. And, because your MSP partner has the potential to be a strategic partner, as well as a transactional supplier, you’ll have an ally on-board that helps you scale and grow faster. 

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Want to know more about working with an MSP? Download our ebook on how to identify when your business is ready to work with a MSP partner. 

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Note: We measure our success by our clients’ success. To better reflect the partnership we enjoy with our clients, we’re changing what we call the MSP side of Arkphire. From now on, our strategic service offerings to clients will be called IT Services (ITS).