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What is an MSP? (And How to Choose the Right One for Your Business)

Managing data and IT solutions in-house can be challenging and expensive. That's why many organizations turn to MSPs.

Person holding tablet that shows icons of various Managed Services, with a central cloud icon

Modern digitalization of operations has forced many businesses to alter their traditional practices and make IT a huge part of their day-to-day affairs. However, some cannot cope with the increase in workload with the resources they have available, so they hire a managed service provider, or MSP, to take care of the work.

But what exactly is an MSP?

Simply put, a Managed Service Provider (or "MSP") is a third-party company you can collaborate with to help manage parts of your business. In the digital space, this often includes IT, cybersecurity monitoring, cloud storage management, and more. The MSP provides the needed technology and expertise to manage your organization’s digital operations, which allows you to scale up and focus on other revenue-creating areas.

Working with MSPs can have tremendous benefits for your enterprise. For instance, their profound understanding of industry-level technology can help you improve performance, operations, and cybersecurity while reducing overhead. In addition, they can offer several creative solutions to help you navigate the evolving landscape of the big data world. Many MSPs have the ability to deliver tailor-made solutions that fit your organization's specific needs. Their expertise allows them to analyze your business thoroughly and render their services according to your strengths and weaknesses. Plus, they can consider the regulatory environment of your location and ensure compliance to safeguard against legal issues.

Another positive aspect about MSPs is that they can support your operations after hours. Typically offering monitoring and on-call staff, they can quickly detect and respond to any off-hour emergencies, such as a downed server or hacking attempt. Trusted MSPs can even tap into your systems remotely to resolve issues and deploy updates without requiring a physical visit to the office.

Overall, the right MSP can help take your company to the next level; however, you must be sure to choose one that suits your needs.

Choosing an MSP: What to Look For

Hiring an MSP shouldn't be a hasty decision. Instead, you want to take a variety of factors into account. Here are the six important aspects to keep in mind when choosing an MSP for your business:

Factor #1. The MSP's Track Record

Prospective MSPs should provide case studies and success stories to demonstrate their competence and expertise. You can also look for testimonials, references, and endorsements from previous or current customers. These will help you determine if the team has been operating successfully for a while and if their reputation is solid. Working with a reputable MSP can give you peace of mind with the knowledge that your system will be appropriately managed. Moreover, you'll feel confident that the MSP will do all in its power to preserve its reputation. A good MSP's success hinges on yours in some respect, so they should view you as a valuable partner.

Regardless of its reputation or history, the MSP needs to keep up with the latest technology trends. Otherwise, numerous security issues may compromise your company and lead to critical problems in your own operations.

Factor #2. The Range of Services Provided

MSPs offer a wide array of services. Some teams are full-service companies, meaning they address your cloud and IT needs comprehensively. In contrast, others may help you with different pieces of your tech puzzle. Consider your needs carefully and ensure your MSP can meet them. Are you a large operation that can handle several of your technology needs in-house, and only require cloud storage management, for example? Or, are you a small company with limited experience in IT that would benefit greatly from full-service management provided by professionals? Your business's unique situation will determine how much help and support you need from a prospective MSP.

Factor #3. Support

As previously indicated, MSPs can work round the clock to ensure your business is compliant and maintained adequately. However, they should also increase their support quickly and adjust staff schedules as your company grows. This is why you should consider an MSP that offers training for your employees. It lets them understand the necessary changes to their day-to-day work and how they can interact efficiently with the MSP to keep things moving.

Factor #4. Response Time

Your network can go down for any number of reasons, preventing your employees from working and your clients from reaching you. This situation can snowball into negatively affecting your reputation, customer base, and eventually even revenue. A quality MSP will mitigate the negative effects of a breach or downed network by responding to the threat as soon as possible. In fact, a good MSP is often able to respond to threats much more quickly than your organization would be able to on its own. The quicker the response, the better than you can minimize the negative effects of cyberattack or downed network.

Factor #5. Security and Backup

One of the most important duties your MSP should perform is to shield your data from cyberattacks. This is critical to protecting your company and customers. Safe data storage is also a mandatory stipulation for many industries, and breaches can represent a massive legal cost alongside the loss of reputation and revenue. A quality MSP will recommend robust security solutions and endpoint protection to combat harmful software. And throughout their engagement, they should consider compliance to help prevent legal issues.

Another major part of their mission should be the implementation of backup software, which enables you to retrieve your data in case of a breach or breakdown of storage equipment. Such implementation may involve automation, a restoration plan, and a no-downtime policy. With a failproof backup and security strategy in place, you should be able to run your company more confidently. The risk of downtime will be drastically lower, allowing you to operate smoothly, maintain high sales, retain customers, and preserve your brand.

Factor #6. Guidance on Workflow Options

Your MSP shouldn't just deal with cybersecurity – they should also suggest adopting the best practices across the entire tech landscape. For example, they should advise you on various CRM solutions and project management applications. They should also help you revamp your approach to workflow and data to create efficiency in all departments. Good guidance from an MSP can help your team work faster, collaborate more effectively, and be more tech-savvy.

In Summation: Recruit your MSP Carefully

While price can be an important factor when selecting an MSP, it pales in comparison to all the factors listed above. Be sure the MSP is a good fit for your organization, even if costs are a bit higher. With high expertise, customized services, and an understanding of threats, a reputable team helps you gain a more secure organization and stay ahead of your competitors.

Twenty20 Solutions offers many ITaaS and Managed Services, including Voice & Data, Industrial On-Site Wireless Internet, Cybersecurity, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business.


Article modified and used with permission from The Technology Press.

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