IT service providers come in all shapes and sizes, and chances are, you’re working with more than a few of them. They can be anything from your internet and VOIP provider to that company you hired to manage cybersecurity.
To be specific, a service provider is an external organization that’s providing you an ongoing service in the realm of IT. Think subscribing to a weekly lawn care service versus paying a professional landscaper to install a retaining wall. And rather than selling a specific product, these providers usually bundle together the initial implementation and ongoing support of a tool or set of tools.
In an ideal world, you’d be able to rely on your managed service provider with everything from cloud storage to securing your payment processor, but not all MSPs are created equal. If you suspect yours isn’t up to par, check out our list of common red flags.
Ten Ways Your MSP Is Falling Short
- Reactive vs. Proactive
Is your provider notifying you of issues or vice versa? They should be working hard behind the scenes to prevent issues before they arise, but if you find yourself constantly calling your provider to let them know about a glitch or downtime, it means they’re falling down on the job.
- Unable to Scale
Your business is growing and you want to work with vendors that can keep up. Consult with your provider about what’s on the horizon for your business, whether that be launching a new product, opening a second location, or significantly expanding your workforce. If they’re not confident that they can support you through these transitions, it is definitely time to move on.
- High Employee Turnover
We’re talking about their employees, not yours. MSPs are known for having high employee turnover, which significantly impacts the quality of service that you’ll receive. When you have a new account manager every six months, you need to establish new lines of communication, re-discuss priorities and concerns, and give them access to critical systems all over again. It’s the kind of busywork that you hired them to take off your plate in the first place.
- Poor Communication
Response times and availability are critical when evaluating your current service provider. Much of our technology runs around the clock, which means your team needs to be ready to respond to issues 24/7. You don’t want to find yourself on hold when your phones are blowing up because customers can’t log into their accounts.
- Lack of Industry Experience
Do you know if your MSP has served other clients in your industry prior to your engagement? You may want to ask because that experience is crucial to predicting the unique needs and specific threats your business will be subject to.
And let’s talk compliance. There’s a good chance that an MSP that has primarily served B2B clients in the past won’t have the knowledge to support an urgent care facility, for example.
- Insufficient Disaster Recovery Processes
If a flood destroyed your office tomorrow, would you know how to remotely access your critical systems and data, thereby minimizing the disruption of service to your own clients? Chat with your provider to understand how frequently they’re conducting back-ups, where they’re being stored, and how they plan to ensure business continuity should the worst happen.
- Inadequate Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is not a place you or your provider should be cutting corners. Ideally, your MSP is ensuring all your software is up to date, integrations are secured, and that sensitive data is protected. It’s also important, that they help inform your employees about best practices and how to avoid common threats. Cybersecurity might be a team effort, but it’s your brand that will be affected should a hacker breakthrough, not your MSPs.
- Little to No Reporting
A lack of regular reporting on your IT infrastructure, your provider’s performance, or both should be alarming. You have a right to know about usage patterns, instances of downtime, threats averted, and updates on implementations. If your MSP is unwilling or unable to provide this information, that’s a huge red flag.
- Absent During Budget and Project Planning
You’ve outsourced to experts for a reason. They have knowledge that you don’t have access to in-house, which means that they should be a part of your IT strategy and budget meetings. If they’re not available to help you identify priorities and set your expectations around the investment needed to accomplish your goals it may be time to look for a new partner.
- Low ROI
These last two items will go a long way in helping you understand whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth. Your MSP is there to support you, not the other way around. If they’re causing you more stress than they’re relieving or have left you in the dark about your IT’s performance, then they’re not meeting expectations.
Looking back over the last six to twelve months, how many of these boxes has your MSP checked?
When you’re a small- to medium-sized business, resources are limited, and outsourcing your IT to a trusted MSP is a strategic move. It frees up your team to focus on mission-critical initiatives and support the growth of the organization, rather than wasting time on busywork. But that only applies if your provider is meeting your needs.
The idea of switching to a new service provider might make you want to hide under your desk, but the value they could provide to your business may very well be exponential.