Things to consider when choosing a managed services provider

Managed IT services is a form of IT support in which your IT support provider will manage either part or all your IT. This alternative to in-house teams has become more favourable over recent years, allowing companies to save money whilst still having an IT infrastructure that performs at its best. 

Technology is growing and changing at a rapid rate, and internal IT departments with limited resources and budget can struggle to keep up. A good IT company can provide managed services at a set rate, which will include access to specific products, software, and services that may be expensive to replicate in-house.

When choosing a managed services provider, there are some things you may want to consider before investing in managed IT support: 

Developing an IT support strategy on your terms

Just because a managed service provider is outsourced, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be considered a part of your in-house team.

They should be able to sit in on meetings or have a catch up with your teams not only to know what is happening within the business, but to also understand what requirements the team might have and to offer suggestions surrounding IT services.

From the beginning, you should also make sure to define your business goals and make it clear what sort of support and expertise you expect from your IT support company. They will then be able to discuss your budget and explain what is possible.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Whatever expectations you set for an MSP, the best way to assess their commitment is to look at their service level agreement (SLA). The SLA sets out what the vendor will provide. If the vendor is unable to meet their obligations, the SLA will also offer a customer with recourse.

Service level agreements vary on a case by case basis; however, typical components usually contain:

  • Warranties: These agreements should spell out legal fine points, such as compensation policies.
  • Client Duties: It’s common that MSP users also agree to a code of conduct.
  • Procedures for when problems arise: This should cover how problems are reported as well as distinguishing the various levels of severity of different problems. It should also indicate the MSPs response time.
  • Performance agreement: Typically, an SLA should outline what metrics will be used to quantify and report on service levels.
  • Termination: It is important that the agreement specifies under which circumstances the MSP or client can end the relationship.

CTOs should use the contracting process to build an understanding of what they want from their MSP. By setting clear expectations in black and white, clients can allow providers to build an understanding of their duties.

Pricing models for managed service providers

To differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace, suppliers offer a diverse range of payment models, below is a quick explanation of some of the popular ones:

  • Per-device monitoring: Customers are billed a flat fee for monitoring selected devices, for example, mobile devices and desktop systems. This is a very common payment structure, mainly because it offers predictability and flexibility as you can scale-up and down the number of devices as needed. One drawback with this structure is that it can get expensive as the number of devices used by workers multiplies.
  • Per-user: This model is similar to the per-device pricing model, the difference being that the flat fee is billed per end user on a monthly basis. This will cover support for all devices used by each user.
  • Tiered pricing: This is perhaps one of the most popular pricing models. Essentially, the service offered will have different price points. The more you spend on a service package, the more services you get.
  • Value-based pricing: This revolves around setting the price of a product or service based on the economic value it offers to customers. If a company wants to do this, they need to be certain what value means to them.

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