How to Choose a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP): Trust Matters

June 22, 2021
Customer Service, IT Services

Updated: April 20, 2023

Data protection. Data privacy. Ransomware. Changing regulatory requirements. Staff shortages. Skills gaps. Digital transformation initiatives. More connected devices. The need and desire to move more workloads to the cloud. Company executives that expect their IT teams to do more with less. The list of issues facing most IT professionals isn’t getting any shorter.

While there’s no single or simple solution for overcoming these challenges, partnering with a trusted IT services provider can help. So how do you find an IT service provider you can trust?

The “What If’s” and “Will They’s”

There are a lot of IT service providers out there. Many of them can probably deliver solutions to meet your various IT needs. So, is what you think you need what you really need — and will you be able to trust a service provider to tell you?

Will the service provider give you a comprehensive, honest assessment of your needs and propose options that can best meet them? Will the proposed solutions still work if your business needs change? Will you be locked into specific services?

Are the solutions focused on fulfilling specific needs although there are other IT issues that could easily be addressed as well with a different approach? Will the proposed IT solution solve one problem but cause another to emerge?

What if you encounter a problem with an IT solution? Will the service provider answer the phone when you call or will you be talking to an answering service? When and if your call is answered by your provider, will you get immediate assistance or be passed around to various people before you get to someone that can solve your issue?

There are a lot of unknowns when you’re considering working with an IT service provider. That’s why trust is so important. You want and need to work with a service provider that will put your best interests first and be there for you when needed.

How do you find a service provider like that?

How to Choose a Managed IT Service Provider

Each business is different and has different needs. Matching those needs with the perfect MSP can be a challenge. Consider the following factors when making the choice for your unique business needs:

  • Services: MSPs offer a large and varied range of services. Consider whether you need full-service — a provider who takes care of all your IT requirements — or just help with certain elements of your IT.
  • Costs: Take the time to understand exactly what you're paying for. Both you and your provider must be clear on what to expect and what services are included in your package before you make your final choice.
  • Experience: Experience and expertise are critical when partnering with an MSP. Your provider needs to handle your systems and business requirements and manage your platforms effectively.
  • Security: Cybersecurity is a fundamental priority for managed IT services. Base your choices on which MSP experts prioritize security and are most capable of protecting your data.
  • Alignment: Your MSP is more than just a service provider — they are your partner. Choosing an MSP that aligns with your business goals is essential to work as a cohesive team.
  • Onboarding: Ensure you understand the timeline and expenses required to bring your MSP on board, as many MSPs have unique integration processes.
Cybersecurity is a fundamental priority for managed IT services. Base your choices on which MSP experts prioritize security and are most capable of protecting your data.

When to Make a Change

As business needs change, so do partnership requirements. Knowing when to switch IT MSPs is vital to keep your business running optimally. Consider the following signs when changing IT MSPs:

  • Limited flexibility: Your MSP needs to be able to adapt to the changing needs of your business. Consider whether your service provider is able to adapt as your business changes.
  • Lack of cohesiveness: A breakdown in understanding of your business needs could cause unnecessary challenges and affect your workflow. If your current MSP is not up-to-date with industry-specific requirements, you might be in need of a fresh perspective.
  • Hidden costs: All pricing should be clear so you know what you're paying. If you're finding your invoices higher than expected, looking for a more transparent arrangement might be in your business's best interest.

Steps for Finding a Trusted IT Services Provider

Trust isn’t automatic; it must be earned. Unless you’ve already built a relationship with a reliable IT service provider in your current position or with a previous employer, you’re going to need to do some legwork. The following are some of the steps you should take:

  • Decide what you want: Make a list of what you want and expect from an IT service provider. Think in terms of both your short- and long-term needs.
  • Consider what you need: Among the considerations — Do you need someone local? Will you need consulting services or other assistance in addition to a specific solution? Do you want access to 24/7/365 support? Do you need someone that can collaborate with your other vendors? Do you need contract flexibility?
  • Talk to people: Talk to others in your profession or industry. Ask for referrals, particularly from peers that have had to deal with issues like yours. Take advantage of opportunities to consult with peers at conferences, seminars and online forums. Don’t rely solely on online reviews, but do take a look at any that are available — including from industry analysts — to get an idea of what’s being said about various service providers.
  • Do your research: Look at prospective service providers’ websites. You’ll encounter a lot of “marketing speak,” but you’ll also get a feel for what the various companies believe is important to stress on their websites.
  • Conduct a review: Once you have a list of potential providers, do a preliminary review of customer testimonials and case studies on their websites.
  • Check online reviews: Look online for articles or blogs that the service providers you’re considered to have published or that have been written about them. Do they come across as experts and thought leaders? Are there certain attributes that stand out, such as a commitment to customer service, a focus on long-term relationships or being exceptionally innovative?
  • Develop a list of questions: Don’t be afraid to include the “hard” questions. Make sure to ask about service level commitments, flexible contracts, pricing options and support. Pose various scenarios and ask the prospects how they’d handle them. Ask how they typically work with customers. How much communication and interaction can you expect? Will you have a dedicated account representative? What if your needs change mid-way through a project? Will the provider be able to pivot with you and modify the solution as needed?
  • Ask your team: Include others from your organization in the interview sessions. Your gut instinct will play an important role in your decision to go with a particular IT service provider, but it’s good to have others’ opinions as well.
  • Check references: Ask prospective providers for references and check them. If there were issues, how did the provider resolve them? Would the company work with that provider again?
  • Evaluate the prospective providers’ next steps: Did they take the time to understand more about your business needs and the challenges you face? Did they discuss possible options? Did they simply come back to you with a quote for the service you said you needed?

There’s no guarantee that the IT service provider you choose to go with will be one you can trust. But doing your due diligence before making your decision will make it more likely.

Questions for Your IT Provider

To ensure you're choosing the best MSP for your business, consider asking the following questions:

  • What pricing structure do you use and how does billing work?
  • What certifications and accreditations do you have?
  • Do you offer customizable pricing?
  • What security measures do you use?
  • How often is the contract renewed?
  • Who can I talk to that's worked with you in the past?

What to Expect When You First Partner With an MSP

When you first partner with an MSP, you can expect some changes, including:

  • On-site installation: Your MSP can come on-site and install any hardware you need on your premises. They can also provide you on-site support if you encounter IT challenges in the course of your work day.
  • Remote support: Your MSP can provide you with a support team to manage and monitor your business network and respond immediately if there's an issue.
  • Onboarding: It's possible your MSP will have to make some changes to your IT systems in the early stages of your partnership, but a quality MSP will make the changes as smooth as possible.

Talk to US Signal

Interested in finding out if US Signal is a company you can trust to meet your IT needs? Contact us and tell us what you need. Ask the hard questions. You can trust us to answer honestly — and earn your trust with our exemplary service and reliable, comprehensive IT solutions. Call (866) 274-4625 and contact us today.

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