Differentiators Between Managed IT Consulting Firms
Differentiators Between Managed IT Consulting Firms

Managed IT Services Become a Part of Your Business

vantech-alt-logoChoosing the Right MSP Is Critical

One thing that makes IT Managed Services so sticky is that it’s a pain to switch vendors.  This is especially true if your MSP is also providing your cloud-based IT solutions; such as cloud backup, remote help-desk, hosted email and more.  Transferring those vital business functions to another provider is time consuming and disruptive to business continuity.  Therefore, is is imperative to make the right choice when selecting an outsourced IT partner.  Below are the key differentiators between managed IT consulting firms.

IT Outsourcing Buys you a Partner

Business owners, entrepreneurs and CEOs are finding it increasingly important to have a say in their information technology operations.  Gone are the days of approaching IT with a laissez-faire attitude.  Up-time and security are of paramount concern.  As a result, the relationship between the managed service provider, and their clients is more important than ever.  The MSP should be in close contact with clients, becoming part of their cultures and forming strong and lasting relationships.  A simple foundation of respect makes the hard stuff so much easier.

What Sets an IT Managed Service Provider Apart?

There is an old cliche about your typical IT people.  Bookish, introverted, superior and disconnected are some of the traits that come to mind.  They are not the majority, but these people do exist.  We’ve all seen them, making things difficult. Projecting their superiority.

There is a better, more efficient and more enjoyable way.  Here are some differentiators between quality IT service providers and ones that should be avoided:

Communication

Quality communication begins with identifying the clients preferred method.  Managed Service Providers generate a tremendous amount of data and information and should excel at providing quality communication.  It’s important to remember that information technology is a service that integrates tightly with all other departments of a business.  Therefore, the MSP should not impose their own preferred communication methods on client.  Information should be meaningful and to the point.  Over explaining or getting ‘techy’ is a waste of time.  IT services should look to strike the right balance between over and under communicating.

Plain Speak

IT Managed Service companies and IT consultants should speak in plain language.  They should aim to explain complicated processes and solutions in a way that is informative and easy to understand.  Jargon should be avoided, as should long expositions on the history of computing and other things that are uninteresting and tedious.  The client wants to know a very few things; what needs to be done, how it will get done, how it is going to address their specific desire, what affect it will have on business continuity and how much it will cost.  Almost everything else is unnecessary.

Partnerships

The MSP should aim to fully integrate into your business to make it better and more efficient.  That cannot be accomplished from arms-reach.  It requires the managed services firm to really get to know the clients.  Any IT managed support company that does not emphasize getting immersed into the client’s company, culture and operations could not possibly know what technical solutions a company requires.  To see things from a user-experience point-of-view, you need to know the clients and what’s important to them.business-people-shaking-hands

Right-Sized Solutions

In IT the devil is in the details. Not only the details of today, but also the anticipated details of the future and the remembered details of the past. Computer consultants should focus on implementing systems that will offer the maximum in reliability and longevity. Underselling is a trait of cut rate businesses and overselling is not the hallmark of a trusted IT partner.  Plan, purchase and maintain right-sized solutions. That is the recipe for success.

Real-time Monitoring and Self Healing

Anything less than 24/7/365 real-time IT monitoring is unacceptable.  Monitoring systems that do not fix their own issues miss the point.  Real-time IT monitoring and maintenance keeps vendors in the know, and trigger systems that can immediately solve the issue without user interaction on either side.  If those issues cannot be fixed automatically, a ticket can be opened with support.  Without these technologies, clients will need more support and will experience more downtime.

Relatively Invisible

An MSPs aim should be to be onsite as little as possible.  Being onsite means dealing with unforeseen issues.  Your managed service provider should aim to eliminate unforeseen issues.  Your MSP should employee a number of remote IT services to ensure that our clients environments are up-to-date and protected.  Patching, updating, virus scanning, health checks and optimizations should  all be planned to run overnight at regular intervals with limited human interaction and no downtime.  Robust reporting capabilities quantifies the IT support effort from a single, integrated console.  Further, screen sharing, remote control and file transfer capabilities allow for remote remediation of most other issues.

Transparency

Clients need to know what they don’t know.  Period!  It’s the managed IT service provider’s duty to be honest and thorough.

Heeding the above advice will not replace that one last, most important, thing: the human factor.  Make sure to thoroughly vet any potential new vendor.  Request quotes from a number of competitors and use those quotes to identify gaps in service.  Make sure to trust the process and not to cut corners.  You will likely be stuck with any managed service provider for a good long time.  Make sure you like and respect the people sitting across the table from you.  Most importantly, make sure they respect you back.

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