Identifying the right MSP
Outsourcing has been growing in popularity. It represents an opportunity for companies to expand, as needed, while cutting the costs associated with new technologies and services. Recent studies conducted by Computer Economics, Inc. showed outsourcing made up only 4 percent of IT costs in 2008. By 2009 this percentage increased to more than 6 percent. By 2011, outsourcing IT services made up more than 10 percent of the total IT expenditures, and this trend has only continued in 2012.
This means that choosing the right outsourced IT provider is now more important than ever. There is a lot at stake in terms of business continuity, company productivity, growth of revenue, and company expansion.
Part of choosing an outsourced IT provider is knowing what mistakes to avoid. Investing the time at the beginning means fewer headaches over the long term and minimizing the potential for unexpected costs as a result of making the wrong decision.
The Ability to Help You Plan
A quality outsourced provider will have the skills on board to help you determine the scope of your IT projects, as they stand now and in the future. This includes an assessment of current workflow procedures, software requirements, compliance regulations, server and network management, disaster recovery, etc.
If the IT provider is incapable of offering a preliminary assessment of your company’s infrastructure and resources, you will run a substantial risk of implementing the wrong IT solution. You will be left with services that will fail to adequately serve the needs now and in the future.
A Word about Price
Avoid choosing an IT provider solely on price. What may initially appear to be a bargain may end up costing you more money in the end. Remember, your company has a lot to lose by choosing the wrong IT provider. As with most services, you get what you pay for.
Your company may currently be in compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards, software and hardware licensing, and other IT regulations, but what about the outsourced IT provider? Check the IT provider’s track record as well as their ability to maintain compliance in the key areas of IT services.
Security, Backup and Disaster Recovery
Your company relies on data security and the ability to recover critical applications in the event of system failure. Take the time to find out what types of data backup and security measures are taken by the IT provider. Inquire about access to data in the event you have to recover following a system failure.
Get It in Writing
Choose an IT provider that is willing and able to work out a contract with you. The contract should spell out everything in detail to avoid any future misunderstandings. The details should include a description of all of your IT assets, a clear definition of expected productivity, growth projections, itemized costs, maintenance and management, and other services you are obtaining.
If the IT provider is vague with contract descriptions or is unwilling to provide a contract, you should be wary of working with them. Lack of defined services will certainly lead to future misunderstandings and headaches down the road.
Finally, make sure the IT provider acts with your company’s best interests in mind. Some outsourced service providers focus only on how the deal will benefit their own business instead of concentrating on your company operations and the projected outcome.