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Buying Managed IT Services

CompTIA found that managed IT services are the second-most popular business model in the information technology industry nowadays. In theory, buying managed IT services should be fairly easy, right? After all, the market is growing at a rapid rate. Gone are the days of paying an hourly fee for someone to come in and fix things as they break. There is simply too much going on within the average company’s environment to rely on such a reactive approach to maintaining technology. So how do you buy managed IT services? Is there anything you need to know before you take the plunge?

Should you look for a budget-friendly option?

Naturally, you’ll want to find an MSP that offers plans within your budget, but this is far different than actively seeking out the most “budget-friendly” option. As you turn to an MSP to handle elements of your information technology, you want to make sure you’re putting your money in the capable hands of a knowledgeable team that can:

  • Monitor your network around-the-clock to detect and address issues
  • Keep your data and applications backed up and ready to recover
  • Offer strategic guidance to help you meet organizational goals
  • Provide remote or onsite support when you need assistance
  • Apply regular updates and/or patches to keep your hardware and software up-to-date
  • Secure your network and any devices connected to the network against cybercrime

Although you want to make sure your MSP of choice provides the services listed above and anything else you need, it’s vital to look for an MSP that understands business rather than focusing solely on technology. You want them to have an idea of how to use their service to achieve your objectives from a business perspective, not a technology perspective.

Should you ask any specific questions prior to signing a contract?

When you’re ready to sign a contract, take a step back and ask a few questions prior to committing to the MSP of your choice. You should feel confident in your decision, especially if you’re going to be locked into a contract. Here’s a few questions to ask:

  1. Do you have existing clients I can speak to?
    Ask them for references. It’ll give you confidence knowing there are people out there who speak highly of the MSP. Once you get references, ask a few questions like “would you hire them again?” or “how responsive are they when you need support?”
  2. What should I expect in terms of response times?
    This is an important question. You don’t want to find out later on that you have to wait hours, or worse, days to get issues fixed. Talk about response times and see what you can expect in the event of a software problem or hardware failure.
  3. Is there anything that isn’t supported under the contract?
    You should feel very clear on what is supported under your contract. Many IT companies will cover the labour costs associated with hardware and software, but make sure they’re handling peripherals like printers, scanners, etc. too.

Should I partially or fully outsource my technology functions to an MSP?

When buying managed IT services, you might be wondering how “full” of a plan you actually need. Some companies already have an in-house IT department that handles the day-to-day maintenance, but require help with big projects. Other companies use their internal person or team for strategy and consulting while looking for help with the day-to-day maintenance. Consider your own situation before deciding whether to partially or fully outsource your technology functions to an MSP.

You may elect to sign up for their lowest level of plan, including remote monitoring, maintenance, and security, then leave the rest to your internal person or team. Or you may elect to outsource absolutely everything because it’s more cost efficient than maintaining an entire team.

Will we be able to customize our service contract?

This is entirely up to your MSP of choice. If they’re not very flexible on their service contracts, keep in mind that they’re taking over responsibility of your technology and it’s always important to trust their judgement. If they say you need XYZ, chances are, they know from experience working with other companies similar to yours. Remember, you wouldn’t go to the doctor and demand to have a specific treatment for an issue. This is very similar. They are the experts and if they’re not flexible in terms of customizing, ask them about their reasoning.

This highlights another important reason for buying managed IT services: partnership. In the past, buying managed IT services was viewed as a way to cut costs associated with ongoing support. Nowadays, it’s all about having access to a team of experts who know and understand your business. They’re able to help you operate more efficiently – streamlining and automating tasks wherever it makes sense to help you generate additional revenue. It’s more than simply maintaining your systems, but making sure you’re able to create new opportunities for development.

If you enjoyed this installment in our managed IT services buyer’s guide, keep an eye out for the next installment. We’re answering all of the questions we hear so often from businesses looking to better leverage information technology for growth and success.

Questions? Contact us to talk about buying managed IT services. We’d be happy to answer your questions!