As the demand for cloud computing and other IT technologies continue to increase, businesses have started looking towards managed IT service providers. In fact, according to a recent study by Markets and Markets, the global managed services market is expected to grow from $223.0 billion in 2020 to $329.1 billion by 2025, at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 8.1% during the forecast period.
If you have a new company which needs IT support, it isn’t necessary to have an in-house IT department. Today many IT companies offer managed IT services for businesses that work closely with the company to identify its specific needs. These will maintain remote monitoring and management, cloud computing and disaster recovery. Compared to in-house IT departments Managed IT providers will give you 24/7 support and will cost much less than in-house departments.
Outsourcing your IT needs can help you cut down overhead costs, divert your resources to other business-critical needs, increase work efficiency, and keep your data safe from cyber threats. If you are also planning to outsource your IT needs, you can find several Managed Services Providers or MSPs out there.
However, choosing an MSP based merely on offering cheapest services or closest proximity to your office may not be the right way to outsource the most important aspect of your business. You need to select your managed IT service provider very carefully. It should be an organization capable of understanding your IT needs and scale up your computer infrastructure as per your growing business demands.
Here’s what you should expect from a professional IT MSP.
1. 24/7 Availability
This is perhaps the most critical criteria to look for when choosing an MSP. While your office hours are limited, your computer network is at risk 24/7. Some of your systems and applications may also keep running 24/7.
Furthermore, cybercriminals will try to target your system at any time. They could try to breach it late at night or early in the morning. Whenever any data or user behavior glitch takes place, your service provider should be able to detect it immediately. Make sure the managed IT service provider is available 24 hours a day, all seven days of the week.
2. Quick Response Time
Having 24/7 availability alone is not enough. Your service provider should be able to respond to your service requests or emergency security alerts immediately. Most MSPs will offer you guaranteed response times.
However, you should still make sure to ask them about how long they take to respond, how long they will take to resolve an issue, and how soon they can provide on-site support. Needless to say, if you outsource your IT needs to an oversees company or the one located outside of your country, you are not likely to get on-site support.
3. 24/7 Network Monitoring
The service provider should also be able to monitor your network 24/7 to detect any vulnerabilities or security threats. Continuous monitoring and real-time threat detection will allow your MSP to identify threats before they cause serious damage to your network.
Make sure the service provider has the resources to monitor every aspect of your network. Most MSPs will have AI-based network monitoring solutions. You should also make sure the agreement covers all elements of your IT infrastructure, no matter how trivial they may seem.
4. Skilled and Experienced IT Team
Your service provider also needs to have IT guys with varied work experiences and specializations on their payroll. You don’t want to end up with a managed IT service provider who are just a bunch of guys with little or no experience or knowledge. They will probably keep taking shots in the dark until the issue is resolved. As they often have a limited idea of what caused the problem, it might resurface again or you could get hit with something worse.
In short, you need to talk to your MSP about how many people they have on payroll and their qualifications. They must have IT experts with the knowledge of troubleshooting technologies that your IT infrastructure uses.
5. Excellent Data Backup
Despite your comprehensive cybersecurity measures, your IT infrastructure may suffer a glitch or even a data breach eventually. If that happens, you will have to rely on your backed-up data and applications to bring your business back to normal.
Before finalizing your agreement, you need to find out how your data gets backed up. Does it get backed up daily or weekly? How secure is it? Is it backed up to a public or private cloud?
A public cloud means your data will be backed up in a shared cloud. If you don’t like the idea of storing your data in a shared environment, you can choose private cloud backup. The costs will vary depending on the size of your data, backup frequency, and the type of cloud.
6. Solid Disaster Recovery Plan
Along with data backup, you are going to need a solid disaster recovery plan as well. It will allow you to recover your data in case of a disaster such as a server malfunction, vandalism, natural calamity, power outage, or even data breach.
Downtime due to any of these disasters can result in heavy losses for businesses. A serious disaster may even put small and medium companies out of business. That’s why it is imperative to make sure the service provider is well-prepared to recover your data and get things going as quickly as possible.
7. Mobile and IoT Device Management
Mobile phones, tablets, and IoT devices like smart printers and smart refrigerators can also pose security risks to your company network. In fact, many telecom giants are targeted by hackers regularly. The recent T-Mobile hack resulted in the theft of employee email accounts and user data.
If hackers manage to breach even a single device, they could gain access to your entire network and sensitive data. The MSP needs to provide you with a range of mobile and IoT device monitoring and security solutions to make sure your network stays safe.
8. Ability to Scale Up
As your business grows, your IT network and the security it requires will also need to expand. You need to choose a service provider capable of handling your increasing IT needs. Make sure they have the resources (both funds and skilled professionals) to handle your growing needs.
An ideal MSP will make your success their priority, offering you all the tech support you need to grow your business. You can talk to the MSP’s customers about their experiences, particularly about how the MSP handled their growing IT needs. Any IT company providing excellent managed IT services will be more than willing to share their success stories with you.
Having dedicated IT support is critical for not only safeguarding your business against cyber threats, but also increasing your productivity. However, finding the right managed IT service provider is easier said than done. Hopefully, these eight tips will make the task a little less daunting for you. What else would you expect from your service provider? Tell us in the comments section.