How Do I know If I Need RCx HOW TO CHOOSE A MANAGED SERVICES PROVIDER.

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1 How Do I know If I Need RCx HOW TO CHOOSE A MANAGED SERVICES PROVIDER

2 Shifting your IT operations to a managed services provider (MSP) offers a multitude of benefits. Collaborating with an MSP to supervise an increasingly complicated internal network can foster dynamic business growth without breaking an already stretched budget. However, the increasing range of expertise, technology and management models can make choosing an MSP a difficult task. As virtualization and cloud backup services become standard business practices, more and more MSPs are entering the marketplace. Choosing the right provider is essential to successfully migrating your network to an outsourced operations center. By performing your due diligence in selecting your managed services partner, you can easily avoid costly and detrimental mistakes. 2

3 The best candidates for outsourcing IT management Companies that want to focus on their business and not on IT management are the best candidates for collaborating with a managed services provider. Companies seeking to unify, simplify, or stabilize their networks, as well as those looking to save money on IT management and expensive hardware upgrades, can also benefit greatly from collaborating with an MSP. The companies that see the most benefits from working with an MSP are typically those with a decentralized corporate network of offices with strained internal IT resources. Businesses with an intricate, single-location network may benefit from a managed infrastructure as well. DOES YOUR BUSINESS MEET ANY OF THESE CHARACTERISTICS? You need to stabilize and secure your IT environment You are ready to assess the growth potential of your current network You are facing strict compliance requirements You know your company will benefit from the expertise of an outsourced provider If you answered yes to any of the above, a managed services provider will help you develop a comprehensive plan for moving forward and meeting your business objectives. 3

4 BENEFITS OF USING A MANAGED SERVICES PROVIDER A managed services provider will allow you to... PROVIDE SUPPORT TO YOUR EXISTING IT TEAM Partnering with an MSP does not mean relinquishing control over your infrastructure or eliminating your existing IT department. Depending on the size of your business, an MSP can act as your entire IT department, or work directly with your own talented IT team. Support from an MSP can allow your employees to stay focused on their daily tasks instead of dealing with disruptions that curb productivity, such as resetting passwords or loading software updates on employee computers. ADD THE EXPERTISE OF TRAINED TECHNICIANS TO YOUR BUSINESS A growing infrastructure places overwhelming strain on an IT department that may possess limited or specialized knowledge. Collaborating with an MSP is an easy and cost-effective way to add professional skill sets to your team, such as security and network engineers, system administrators, and application experts without the extra burden on your payroll. 4

5 EXPERIENCE THE BENEFITS OF THE MOST ADVANCED SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY Since MSPs have already invested in the advanced technology and training necessary to build an expert team and systems, by leveraging a shared model, you gain access to the best equipment and talent available to manage your IT environment without having to invest in costly equipment or stay on top of upgrades. INVESTING IN A LONG-TERM MANAGED SERVICES PARTNERSHIP Although many MSPs offer monthly plans which may be attractive to companies with budget constraints or that are constantly evolving rarely are these discounted opportunities the good decision they may appear to be. Managed services are no quick solution; the average company can expect to invest six to twelve months in developing a beneficial relationship with an outsourced managed services provider. A thorough understanding of your business goals, challenges, current environment and expectations is necessary to develop a customized security infrastructure that will deliver the results you are looking for. Be wary of providers that promise instant results in a short period of time. By taking the time necessary to develop a long-term relationship with a competent provider, your business can save money and benefit from an IT environment that is more scalable, resilient, and in alignment with your corporate mission. 5

6 THE COST INVESTMENT OF MANAGED SERVICES Many companies are under the impression that managed services is commodity-based, and often start their search for an MSP by comparing prices. However, lower costs typically equate to substandard service levels. You expect your MSP to be an expert in the IT industry. In order to prevent lost revenue, you should invest in an MSP that is capable of fixing, not simply shifting, your infrastructure. 6

7 Collaborating with an MSP often yields a high retu Over time, your initial investment pays for itself by costs, which creates the potential for future invest upgrades, more advanced technology, and highe services. CHOOSING A MANAGED SERVICES PROVIDER If possible, conduct a site visit at the MSP s physical location, which will give you the opportunity to hear how competently the call center employees communicate. While there, personally meet your team and the executive managers and ensure that if a problem ever arises, you will be able to contact senior management. A reputable MSP will be willing to let you tour the facility and meet with top-level executives. 7

8 How Do I know If I Need RCx WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN MSP Each MSP offers a unique set of services based on the hardware utilized, the collective experience of the staff, and the pricing structure. These varied options make it difficult to directly compare providers. The methods that work for one business will likely be ineffective for another, even within the same industry. The first criteria should be the type of certifications the MSP engineers have earned. Next, closely examine the company s fault tolerance and investments in technology and automations clear signs that a provider values high availability and security. Once you have narrowed down your list of candidates, request references from companies that are similar in size, scope and industry to yours. A reputable company will be proud to share their references and case studies.

9 PERSONALIZED SERVICES Many businesses may be attracted to providers that offer a formal menu of standard services, but obtaining quality from your MSP means choosing a provider that focuses on understanding your unique technical requirements, timeframe, and budget. A predetermined menu of services fails to take into the account the unique considerations of each client and only attempts to steer them into service lines that may not actually accommodate their needs. A competent MSP will work with you to diagram a plan of action that not only guides your business to its end goals, but also allows room for expansion to accommodate future needs. SKILL SET When choosing an MSP, you should also consider the knowledge and experience of the company and its team. A reputable firm will have technicians who have earned multiple certifications from and partnerships with major vendors, which demonstrates their ability to understand and manage various components of technology. SCALABILITY A qualified MSP is capable of not only providing technical expertise and IT support that meets your needs now, but also monitoring, maintaining, and making upgrades to your services as your business model changes. The right provider will ensure that your business has high availability, a higher level of redundancy, and adequate storage to run a global environment that adequately supports the needs of your workforce and your customers. 9 SECURITY The type of equipment used by an MSP is also a crucial consideration. Your provider should deploy a fault-tolerant environment with a robust backup system that offers zero downtime and 24/7 monitoring. Technicians should be available at all hours to swiftly address any issues so that productivity is never interrupted.

10 MANAGED SERVICES PROVIDER CHECKLIST Finding the right service provider is easier if you have a clear understanding of what a qualified MSP looks like. Use this checklist to guide your decision-making process: Does the provider have demonstrated experience in designing innovative IT solutions? Ask for a proven record of success, how long the provider has been in business, and the type of metrics used to analyze your current IT environment. What technology competencies does the MSP possess? A competent MSP must know how to leverage technology to help your company operate more efficiently. Engineer certifications and agency partner levels are an excellent indicator that an MSP knows its business. Passing the rigorous testing required for certifications proves the competency of their technicians, plus it provides in-house engineers with preferred access to the certifying company s tech team. Has the MSP worked with companies similar in size, scope and industry? Your MSP should understand that mid-size businesses have vastly different IT requirements than large organizations. The technicians should be familiar with the technical aspects and regulations in your industry. For example, if your company works with sensitive health information, your MSP should have the in-house resources and certifications to build and manage networks that comply with the security standards outlined by HIPAA. 10

11 Is the MSP interested in understanding your unique business issues? Your MSP must understand your business structure, workflows, current technology and imminent goals. You need a partner who understands where you are today and where you are trying to go. Your MSP should be able to assemble a personalized roadmap that solves those problems, and develop a plan that is flexible and considerate of budgetary restrictions. Does the MSP offer Service Level Agreements and Opt-Out Clauses? Before work begins, your MSP should provide a detailed Service Level Agreement that clearly defines the challenges and proposed solutions, as well as response times and metrics. Termination clauses for performance and satisfaction are essential parts of this agreement. Does the MSP know your name? At the very least, your s and phone calls should be answered promptly, preferably by a dedicated representative who is familiar with your account. Trustworthy companies guarantee their emergency response times. Technicians should have immediate access to your company s important infrastructure details so that they can clearly diagnose the problem and immediately contact any third-party providers to seek a resolution, if necessary. 11

12 WARNING SIGNS THAT AN MSP IS NOT RIGHT FOR YOUR COMPANY Be wary of any providers that... Are willing to take on your project without outlining a methodology to assess the environment, providing a gap analysis to address the issues, and developing a plan to implement the solutions Tell you it is unnecessary to make a long-term investment in updating your infrastructure Supply a single point of failure and do not possess technical certifications Are available to step in only when something breaks Managed services is a rapidly changing industry. In order to reduce costs and benefit from greater overall security, you need a services provider that not only demonstrates advanced technology and competencies, but is also willing to understand your needs and invest in a long-term partnership. For businesses looking to make IT operations secure and virtually effortless, a partnership with a qualified MSP is the best defense. 12

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