Avoid These 5 Managed Service Provider Mistakes in 2024
Technology is constantly evolving, and so is the way organizations manage their IT infrastructure and services. To adapt to these ongoing technology changes and stay competitive, many businesses are partnering with managed service providers. These companies offer a wide range of IT services, including network management, cybersecurity, cloud integration, and more.
While managed service providers can provide valuable guidance and help organizations improve their IT operations, it's important to select a reputable provider and establish a strong working relationship. In the following sections, we'll explore common mistakes to avoid when choosing and collaborating with a managed service provider.
1. Failure to Define Your IT Needs and Goals
Managed service providers can help organizations optimize their IT infrastructure, improve their cybersecurity measures, reduce IT costs, ensure business continuity, and much more. However, if businesses do not take the time to clearly understand their IT needs and goals, they'll risk entering into partnerships that may not align with their long-term objectives. This lack of alignment can lead to ineffective IT solutions, communication breakdowns, and missed opportunities for growth and efficiency.
If you're a business that's considering working with a managed service provider, ask yourself the following questions to help define your IT needs and goals:
- What are your current IT challenges? Identifying your current issues can help pinpoint areas that need immediate attention.
- What are your short-term and long-term business goals? Understanding your business goals can guide IT decisions that support these objectives.
- Do you have in-house IT expertise? Evaluate your internal IT capabilities to determine where you might need outside help.
- What specific IT services or solutions do you require? Define which services are needed, such as network management, cybersecurity, cloud integration, or hardware maintenance.
- How critical is data security to your operations? Determine the level of security needed to protect sensitive data, and make sure your IT provider can accommodate this.
- What is your budget for IT services and infrastructure? Creating a budget helps narrow down service providers that align with your financial resources.
- Are you planning to scale your business in the near future? If your business is expecting growth, make sure your IT operations and service provider can accommodate expansion.
- Does your industry have specific compliance requirements? Identify any regulatory standards or industry-specific regulations that impact your IT infrastructure.
- How would you define success in our IT operations? Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your IT initiatives.
- What is your tolerance for IT downtime or disruptions? Consider the impact of downtime on your business and establish acceptable thresholds.
- What is your timeline for implementing IT changes or solutions? Establish realistic timeframes for IT projects and migrations.
2. Not Doing Your Research
Not all managed IT providers are created equal. While most companies should prioritize security, efficiency, and proactive IT solutions, not all providers may have the expertise, track record, and resources to meet your business needs and goals. Therefore, it's important for organizations to do their research when evaluating potential managed service providers. Key areas to consider include industry experience, service offerings, client testimonials, and adherence to compliance standards.
Making an informed decision can help businesses find an IT provider that aligns with their unique needs, ultimately contributing to their long-term success. When interviewing managed service providers, consider asking the following questions:
- What is your experience in our industry? Make sure the managed service provider has experience working with businesses in your specific field.
- Can you provide any references from past or current clients? Contacting references can help you evaluate the provider's track record and the projects they have worked on.
- What services do you offer? Make sure they provide the services your organization needs, whether that's network management, cybersecurity, or other services.
- Do you offer 24/7 technical support? Check their availability for addressing issues outside regular business hours.
- How do you handle cybersecurity and data protection? Ask about their cybersecurity practices, including threat detection, prevention, and incident response.
- How do you approach software updates and patch management? Make sure they keep your systems up to date with the latest security patches.
- What is your response time for IT issues? Evaluate their processes and commitment to addressing IT problems quickly.
- Do you provide IT documentation and reporting? Good IT providers should make documentation and reporting a priority.
- What certifications or industry standards do you follow? Make sure they comply with relevant regulations and standards, such as ISO or HIPAA.
- What are your contract terms and pricing structure? Evaluate the cost of services, billing frequency, and any hidden fees.
- Can you provide a detailed service level agreement (SLA)? Review the SLA to understand service expectations, response times, and responsibilities.
3. Overlooking Cybersecurity Measures
Managed service providers free up businesses to focus on core tasks by taking over IT management and proactively addressing technology challenges. However, businesses must prioritize security when granting access and sharing data with these providers. Not doing so can lead to data breaches, compliance violations, and reputational damage. To safeguard your organization, consider these cybersecurity tips when collaborating with managed IT providers:
- Assess your IT provider's cybersecurity practices and infrastructure.
- Implement robust access controls and user authentication protocols.
- Encrypt sensitive data during transmission and storage.
- Regularly monitor and audit access to your IT systems.
- Establish incident response plans for data breaches and other security incidents.
- Make sure your provider complies with relevant data protection regulations.
- Provide security training and updates for your staff.
- Work with your provider on security threat detection and response strategies.
- Periodically review and update your cybersecurity measures to adapt to evolving threats.
4. Neglecting Communication and Reporting
How are your IT operations performing? Is your managed service provider effectively following through on project deadlines and meeting the commitments outlined in your service level agreement? These questions can be answered by regularly communicating with your IT provider and receiving comprehensive reports on their performance.
Regular communication and reporting are crucial for maintaining transparency and accountability between your business and the managed IT provider. It ensures that your provider understands your business goals, challenges, and future plans. It also allows you to share feedback and address issues promptly. Alongside regular meetings to discuss performance and align IT strategies, here are some practical tips to get the most out of your partnership:
- Set Clear Expectations: Define your expectations, roles, and responsibilities in the partnership from the start to avoid misunderstandings.
- Meet Regularly: Establish regular check-in meetings to discuss performance, address issues, and align IT strategies with your changing needs.
- Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Work with your provider to establish KPIs that measure their performance.
- Benchmark Performance: Compare your MSP's performance against industry benchmarks to identify areas for improvement.
- Stay Informed: Stay informed about emerging technology trends and industry changes to make informed decisions and guide your IT discussions.
5. Not Defining Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
A service level agreement is a contract between a business and managed service provider that defines the terms and agreements of their partnership. These contracts typically outline the services to be provided, hours of availability, response times, and procedures for operations and incidents. They may also include the billing terms, security measures, and remedies for service level breaches.
Service level agreements should be established before services begin. By having a comprehensive SLA in place, businesses can help ensure clear expectations, predictable outcomes, and improvement in processes. Without one, organizations risk ambiguity, unmet goals, and potential disputes with their managed service provider. An SLA serves as a crucial roadmap for both parties, fostering a more productive and successful partnership while minimizing the chances of misunderstandings. When collaborating with an IT provider, consider the following tips:
- Define Clear Objectives: Outline your business goals and IT expectations clearly in the SLA.
- Measurable Metrics: Ensure that SLA metrics are easily measurable.
- Flexibility: Allow for flexibility in SLAs to adapt to changing business needs.
- Regular Review: Schedule periodic reviews of SLAs to ensure they remain relevant and effective.
- Communication: Keep in touch with your service provider so you know what's going on.
Outsourcing IT to managed service providers can provide many benefits to businesses. It allows organizations to tap into expert guidance, enhance efficiency, reduce IT costs, and ensure security and compliance. However, it's important to remember that not all managed IT providers are the same, and successful partnerships largely depend on choosing the right provider. When establishing a partnership with a managed service provider, effective communication, well-defined expectations, and comprehensive service level agreements should be prioritized.
At Prescient Solutions, we embody these qualities and more. Our commitment to proactive IT solutions, responsive technical support, and transparent communication sets us apart, ensuring that your IT operations are in capable hands. By partnering with our team and prioritizing the principles outlined in this guide, businesses in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas can navigate today's IT landscape confidently and drive success in the year ahead.
Contact Prescient Solutions today at to learn more about our managed IT services.