Managed service providers are special-purpose ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that offer a variety of special services and features. The IT needs of a business are definitely quite different from the IT needs of an individual. The average person mostly uses the internet for entertainment and basic communication among friends and family. For that kind of thing, a normal ISP will do.
Businesses, on the other hand, have to handle a lot more internet traffic. Also, the data in question is more likely to be sensitive in nature. For this reason, it is extremely important to choose the right MSP. With that in mind, let’s discuss some of the MSP best practices that you should expect your provider to follow.
1. Investing In The Best Tech
For better or for worse, technology represents a moving goalpost. Many people have joked about the fact that some technology becomes obsolete within months of its purchase. Of course, if you have invested a lot of money in that equipment, the joke isn’t so funny anymore. Not every business needs to have all the latest tech, but a managed service provider is another story.
In order for an MSP to provide reliable and efficient service to its many customers, it must have reliable and efficient machines to deliver those services. Investing in the best available software is also a good idea, as this is what keeps the hardware running smoothly. This also means sending your employees for training when new technology is introduced. Any MSP that doesn’t invest in itself will find that it simply cannot deliver the results that its customers desire.
2. Specializing In A Particular Area
The main thing that distinguished an MSP from an ISP is the range of special services that they offer. These services will differ from one provider to another, but they tend to cover a wide range of needs. For instance, some services are more focused on security while others are more focused on speed and optimization. Some others might be “niche” services that only certain companies will need. In any case, it makes sense for an MSP company to specialize in one particular area of service.
This kind of thing is good for the customer because it allows them to choose a company that shares their priorities. For instance, let’s say you are a company that is contracted by the federal government for security or law enforcement-related work. Needless to say, security needs to be your top priority in that situation. Thus, you would look for an MSP that places a heavy emphasis on security. Naturally, a company with more low-security needs would do best to focus on something else.
Taking Responsibility For Mistakes
One of the best ways to tell a “bad” MSP from a “good” one is to look at their accountability practices. When the internet goes down or fails to work properly for an extended period of time, the financial losses can be nothing short of gigantic. As a business owner, you have every right to expect that someone will be held accountable for those losses. After all, what’s the point of paying for unreliable service?
Most companies provide this accountability through the use of a service-level agreement (or SLA for short). This agreement will stipulate certain conditions that must be met by the MSP company. If they fail to meet their obligations, they will be liable for any resulting damages. For instance, if they make a mistake and cause you to lose a lot of money via lost sales revenue, they will have to reimburse you for at least some of the financial damage. Any MSP company that does not take responsibility for its mistakes should be completely avoided.
Provide Regular Evaluation And Testing
In many cases, an MSP company does not take much action until something goes wrong. They basically just hook you up to the service and call it done. This is not really a good sign, though. A truly professional and diligent MSP should always be working to improve performance, convenience, security, and other metrics. Putting out fires isn’t enough: You want a company that is actively trying to provide the best service that it can.
There are many ways in which companies can do this, but it always requires regular testing and evaluation. For instance, if they want to test the security of a particular network, they can bring in some penetration testers (i.e., “good guy” hackers) to probe those defenses and see where the weakness might lie. Latency testing is also very important, as it will allow your MSP to fix any speed issues before they become crippling problems.
Having A Good Continuity Plan
You never really know when a disaster of some kind might strike. Whether it’s a hurricane, a pandemic, a war, or some other catastrophe, every business needs to be prepared. In the case of an MSP, you have a business that provides crucial services to other businesses. Thus, it is definitely a good thing for such companies to have a business continuity plan.
These kinds of plans are meant to outline what the company will do and how it will operate in the event of some serious disaster. Planning for specific scenarios should be discussed, but general preparedness is required because you can’t always predict the nature of these things. You should ask your MSP if they have a good continuity plan. Even if that plan is never actually needed, this will show you if your MSP is intelligent and professional enough to think about these things.
When you need a managed service provider, don’t just go with the first convenient option. This is an important decision, so invest enough time to evaluate your options. Ask plenty of questions and make sure that they are conforming to the managed service provider’s best practices that have been outlined here. Or, you can just save yourself all that time and trouble by calling PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.