Is your MSP measuring up?

Chances are you, like a growing number of Canadian businesses, decided to hand over your IT management to a Managed Services Provider because you were tired of dealing with technology on a day-to-day basis. In fact, you probably made the hand off and haven’t looked back. And if your IT has been performing at a serviceable level, you might think there is little reason to measure the performance of your MSP.

However, that can be a mistake. Just because something is functional doesn’t mean it’s operating at peak efficiency. The NHL Playoffs are in full swing and while no Canadian teams made the cut this season, let’s use a hockey metaphor to put the performance of your MSP into context. During the playoffs players pick up those mysterious upper body injuries and end up labouring through games performing at a level far below what they are capable of. For a number of different reasons this doesn’t always negatively affect their team but clearly it’s not an ideal situation.

A lot of MSPs are just like the injured defensemen trying to grind their way to Stanley Cup. Sure, they can do the job at a passable level but that isn’t always enough for your business. After all, there are only 16 teams competing to win the cup. You have to fend off competition from every way and on a daily basis. That’s why you must be getting the best possible performance from your MSP.

Of course it’s infinitely easier to evaluate hockey players than it is to evaluate IT companies. Until Don Cherry appears on Hockey Night in Canada breaking down the skills of Sam the local IT guy, you probably need to know what to look for. At Dyrand, we’re committed to bringing transparency to the IT industry. If you really want to know what kind of performance you’re getting from your IT provider, here’s what you might want to consider.

Figure out the support

One of the big reasons a business chooses to hire an MSP is for the support they provide. However, different MSPs offer different levels of support and some business owners find themselves underwhelmed with what they actually receive. Hours of operation and helpdesk operations of an IT provider play a big role in supporting your company and a lot of MSPs offer 24/7 support.

However, not all support is equal. Some MSPs outsource their helpdesk and support services outside of normal business hours. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily but it can be difficult to reach someone you know or get someone on-site should the situation require it. One thing that separates the good MSPs from the Wayne Gretzky-like great ones is true 24/7/365 support. That means regardless of when you call with an issue, you’ll be speaking with someone who is familiar with your company and its systems.

Taking care of the details

When it comes to looking after your company’s desktops and servers, there are a lot of little things that need to be done on a regular basis to ensure they are fully secure and operational. Patching, software updates, hardware management and a number of other little tasks that may not seem all that important on their own must be done to ensure healthy, functioning networks and systems at your company. Undoubtedly you have no desire to manage and execute this as it can be complicated and time consuming. That’s why you want an MSP that will handle all of the little details for you. Moreover, you want one who you can depend on to do this regularly. Even one missed patch or skipped update can lead to problems.

Make sure you have a partner

Choosing to outsource your IT is an investment in your company and you don’t want to throw your money at a provider who simply sees you as another client. At Dyrand, we partner with everyone from travel companies in Victoria to law firms in Halifax. One of the things I love most about this job is being able to work closely with such diverse businesses and learn about how they work and what they need.

At its core, the relationship between you and your MSP shouldn’t be consumer/client facing but should be more of a partnership. Not only will an IT partner take the time to teach you about the what’s and why’s of their handywork, but they should also be learning from you. After all, the better they understand your company and its industry, the better they will be able to tailor their service to your needs.

Reviews and reporting are very important aspects of your partnership with an MSP and you don’t want to be working with a company that will just drop a bunch of data on your desk without explaining what it all means. Those MSPs that go above and beyond the basics will take the time to explain what this information means and how it is helping you reach your goals.

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Introducing your vCIO

Want to know the difference between an adequate MSP and a top-notch one? The best MSPs will provide your company with the services of a virtual Corporate Information Officer (vCIO) who will help create a technology roadmap that plans for the seamless replacement of old hardware, the integration of new software and the adaptation of policies that allow for full scalability as your business grows. Budgeting is also a big part of this planning and your vCIO should help with this as well, ensuring you come up with a business strategy that you are comfortable with.

In addition to this, a vCIO will serve as your point person for all things technology making sure you are aware of any changes in compliance, risk management or governance issues. This means you don’t have to worry about falling behind with federal and provincial regulations which can change on a seemingly daily basis in certain industries like law and finance.

Of course, when it comes to measuring your MSP, you do have to consider some of the intangible issues as well. For instance, how easy is it for your employees to get IT help should it be required? Are the MSPs technicians able to provide smooth and seamless repairs or do they tend to be intrusive and disruptive? As we mentioned earlier, your MSP should be a partner and as such their staff should seem as if they are an extension of your staff.

One day we hope a Canadian team brings the Stanley Cup back home but in the meantime we have our sights set on more realistics goals. Like helping your business operate more efficiently and increase revenue. If you want to learn more about how Dyrand measures up to the competition, give us a call today.