When choosing a managed IT service provider (MSP) there are quite a few important factors to consider. 

And while we’ve covered this topic in our Simple Guide to Choosing the Right MSP,  the evaluation criteria has mostly been geared around finding a good fit for your organization. And yes, that’s important, but there is a subtle yet equally important fit we need to discuss. The fit for you – the person who evaluates and manages the relationship with the MSP.

When you bring in an MSP, you are forever linked to them and their performance, putting your reputation on the line in front of your organization and peers. So beyond the MSP delivering for the organization, they have to deliver for you.

In this article we are going to run through four important things your Managed IT Service Provider should be giving you.

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 1. Guidance

This sounds like a no brainer. Of course, your MSP should be providing guidance. But we are not talking about quotes or reactions to your inquiries. 

Your MSP should be giving you advice that can help you day-to-day, even if they don’t make money on it. Not every aspect of your relationship needs to be nickel-and-dimed. 

For example, we were on a video call with a client and there was quite a bit of background noise coming from her video, making it very hard to understand her. Since we’re all working remotely these days, the ability to be effective when communicating via video call is very important. To help her we suggested she download and install Krisp. We even took a few minutes to help her set it up so she could test it out. 

Simple as that! No quotes, no transaction, just a small bit of valuable guidance that will allow her to be more effective when communicating with anyone via video call. 

 2. Confidence

What is your gut reaction to the following? 

  • Coming into work on a Monday after your MSP completed a large project over the weekend.
  • Your non-technical CEO talking with a project engineer about the upcoming security initiative.
  • Working on a support issue with your MSP. 
  • Handling a complaint about your MSP from someone on your team. 

Did any of these scenarios give you pause or make you anxious? Why do you think that is? It comes down to the amount of confidence you have in your MSP and the fact that their failures or shortcomings reflect on you as the relationship owner.  

In order to be effective, an MSP must do way more than just be passable at support or projects. Proper communication, education and good internal processes are essential to building your confidence. You should be able to go into every interaction knowing your MSP will not make you look bad on their way to getting the job done.

3. Attention

There are many ways your Managed IT Service Provider can give you attention, like answering your support tickets, working with you on a project or giving you a quote for something new. But we are not talking about that. 

In this case we are talking about personal attention. For instance, does your point of contact at the MSP remember your daughter got married or you got a new puppy? Do you know about their life outside of the office? Are you even comfortable talking with them about personal things? 

We are not advocating you become best friends with folks from your MSP or that you need to confide in them about your deepest darkest secrets. What we are suggesting is you strive for a more wholesome relationship that is less transactional in nature. Yes, the MSP is being paid to support your organization and much of that relationship is transactional by nature. Your relationship with them does not need to be. 

The benefit of a more human relationship is the ability to communicate more effectively, especially when it comes to service issues. We have heard many stories from clients about previous MSPs taking service issue discussions personally or as an attack. This can have disastrous consequences for the larger relationship. Attention to communication and a friendlier relationship can help avert that. 

4. Time

Time is a finite and a precious resource. In our business and personal lives we have so many things vying for our time, your MSP should not be adding additional demands. 

You can avoid any time-suck by your MSP by setting clear expectations up front and throughout the relationship. Things like meeting cadence or processes should be put in place during the initial onboard process. Knowing what to expect removes the friction from these initiatives and allows you to plan for them as part of your normal schedule.  

IT strategy and roadmapping offer another place where your Managed IT Service Provider can save you time. Having a written yearly IT roadmap you can share with your internal team saves you the time of having to write it up yourself. In addition, it allows you to research, plan and socialize the initiatives internally ahead of discussions with the MSP. This cuts down on the number of meetings, communications, and other items that make IT decision-making so time consuming.

So these 4 things you as the relationship manager and primary point of contact with your MSP should look for to maximize your relationship. If you are not getting all four of these, it might be time to review your relationship and decide if it is serving your best interests.  Ready to evaluate a new partner? Call us. 

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