The switch economy has had a profound effect on how we engage with service providers as individuals. Insurance and utilities companies need to go the extra mile and maintain a five-star service if they are to command customer loyalty. How would it affect your business if it was easier to switch Managed Service Providers?
As consumers, we have forgone the restrictive nature of service contracts in favour of greater flexibility. An entire market sector has grown out of the desire to switch; comparison sites make it easier than ever to see exactly what you get for your money and review sites allow customers to rate their experience. This has led to a significant change in the way service providers operate; placing an emphasis on flexibility, transparency and quality of service.
In a business to business environment this isn’t the case. Indeed, you could say that the industry is severely lagging behind. While it’s true that where B2C leads, B2B often follows, the industry doesn’t show too many signs of doing this. While G2 and Gartner offer some insight, they can’t be compared against the likes of uSwitch.
IT is spending more on infrastructure
Spicework’s 2019 State of IT report states that 89% of companies expect their IT budgets to either grow or stay the same in 2019. According to the report, this is being driven by a pressing need to upgrade outdated IT infrastructure.
Moreover, 35% of IT budgets in 2019 have been allocated to hosted/cloud-based services and managed services, meaning that IT and network managers will be engaging with both existing and prospective Managed Service Providers to evaluate their offering and see if they’re the right partner for this next stage of development.
How do you compare Managed Service Providers?
With access to a limited range of resources, assessing current (and evaluating prospective) Managed Service Providers can be a time-consuming process. However, the investment in time is well worth it. Whilst every organisation faces similar challenges, the exact combination of challenges, services and requirements will be unique to your business. Engaging with service providers on a personal level provides clarity and transparency.
Simply going to market to ‘see what’s out there’ will likely result in a lot of wasted time and effort. Before you start comparing service providers, make sure you have your assessment criteria locked down. If you have a current service provider, start there. An honest evaluation of your current service will identify if it’s fit for purpose and may identify areas where there is room for improvement.
Any criteria you set should be in line with your overall business objectives and not just consider your current infrastructure, but the desired future state of your technology. Think about your journey to the cloud, any legacy equipment you might want to wring the last few drops of ROI out of, or any major digital transformation projects in the future.
You also need to think about how the skills of your MSP complement those you have in-house. Rather than acting independently, your service provider should act as an extension of your IT team by filling skills and knowledge gaps, or having the capacity to take on the activities you don’t wish to focus on – be they every-day or business critical. In short, they should enable you to get the best out of your staff and your infrastructure.
Choosing the best MSP
Once you’ve defined what you want to achieve, you need to engage with service providers who understand the challenges you face and can demonstrate proven ways of solving them. You can then weigh up their solutions against three key criteria to see if they really do offer a five-star service:
Availability: 99.99% uptime still means you’re without service for 52min 35s every year. When dealing with business-critical applications, we don’t think you should compromise on availability. If you pay 100% of your fees, you should get 100% availability.
Flexibility: The future of your IT lies in hybrid infrastructure; combining public cloud, private cloud and on-premises services. A provider with an agnostic approach will help you locate your services and apps where you need them, when you need them.
Affordability: Complex pricing structures, hidden costs and poor life-cycle management all add unnecessary cost to your solution. An MSP with predictable, transparent costs makes budgeting more accurate.
So how do you find the right MSP for you? Our Best Practice Guide to Choosing a Managed Service Provider shows you what to look for, walks you through how to lay the foundation for a successful partnership and gives you tips on how to adopt a strategic approach. Download it here.