4 Tips for Effectively Working with a Managed IT Service Provider

Working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Would you like to reduce cost and complexity? Consider working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Organizations of all sizes are adopting managed services as part of a strategic plan to organize, streamline and safeguard their businesses.

MSPs offer multiple benefits. In a world where security threats are everyday considerations, Managed IT provides the peace of mind that comes from the assurance that applications and systems are always up-to-date and protected. Operational overhead and the need for in-house IT expertise both move back from the front of the desk, and businesses enjoy an expanded technical expert pool that helps them focus on their core competencies instead of having to focus on complicated supporting technology.  However, with all those benefits comes a challenge – transitioning from handling IT in-house to a MSP means you’ll need to make some significant institutional changes.

To help you get the most out of the relationship, here are four tips for effectively working with MSPs.

1. Set Your Expectations

It’s important to be upfront and clear about what the managed relationship entails – and to make sure that everyone understands those expectations. Ask (and answer) questions like:

  • What should you expect from an onboarding experience?
  • Who has responsibility for the initial setup of hardware? If new installations are required, whose responsibility is it?
  • How will the escalation process work for events?
  • What responsibility does the MSP have for applications running in the cloud?
  • Is there a shared responsibility model for access to (and the security of) sensitive data?
  • Is the MSP expected to fine-tune your footprint and dynamically change configurations to meet business needs, or to become the middle-man with vendors?

An important best practice is to establish the scope of the relationship in a statement of work, which should also clearly define terms like “healthy running state,” “best practices,” and “in the cloud,” among others. Being up front from the beginning about who’s responsible for what, and how communications will be carried out going forward, is a great foundation for a successful relationship.

2. Be Transparent

To effectively support your IT environment, a MSP needs to have a full understanding of your current infrastructure. A clear understanding of how your business functions and visibility into the full topography you have in place allows the MSP to help you optimize the investments you’ve made. The MSP can also identify areas for improvement across on-premises and cloud infrastructures, connectivity providers and vendors for WAN and LAN, third-party applications performance, mobile user access, and so on.

When the MSP understands what’s running in your IT environment, it can provide ongoing services like patching and monitoring, or help harden configurations from a security and performance perspective.

All too often, businesses don’t provide a full picture of their architecture, so an audit or other inventory exercise may be necessary. Allowing the MSP full access to systems in the beginning can help you avoid many headaches down the road.

3. Ask, Ask, Ask

As the businessperson making the decision to turn over portions of your infrastructure to a third party, you should never hesitate to ask questions – or answer them, for that matter. An open, ongoing dialog is a critical piece to making the MSP relationship work.

When selecting an MSP, it’s important to keep this in mind. An MSP should be responsive and aware of your specific business needs – not just place questions into a queue to be answered with boilerplate responses.

4. Let the System Work

In the event of a major issue such as a weather event, power outage, cyberattack or other disruption, keep calm and know that the MSP’s job is to help fix the issue as quickly as possible.

If there is a connectivity or functionality issue, the MSP will identify it through their systems and work to resolve it. All activities should be executed under an SLA with frequent, scheduled reporting. An MSP is there to give you peace of mind, after all.

 

Ready to Work with an MSP?

TPx offers comprehensive managed service suites, all delivered with round-the-clock support staff to provide tailored, top-tier customer service. These include managed SD-WAN, managed firewalls, managed LAN, managed Office 365, managed endpoints, managed disaster recovery, managed high-speed Internet access and more. In all cases, our IT experts, including those in our two state-of-the-art Security Operations Centers, will monitor your critical systems 24/7/365 and respond immediately to any issues you may have, freeing you up to focus on your core business objectives. One monthly charge covers a wide range of tasks that go to the heart of today’s modern business environments.

Request a free consultation to see how MSx Managed IT Services from TPx can help you support your critical IT systems without the cost and hassle of doing it all in-house.

 

About the Author

As TPx’s Director of MSx Product Management, Ross Spero leads a nationwide team of product management and marketing professionals focused on creating market-leading managed IT and security solutions.  He brings deep experience serving businesses in multiple industries to this role.  Ross is a graduate of the University of Oregon and is completing his Executive MBA at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.