How to Get the Most from Your Managed IT Services Relationship
Have you ever been in a relationship where one person was the giver and the other was the taker? It doesn’t work. The word “relationship” implies two-way communication and the desire to put some energy into your connection.
Relationship is the perfect word to use when you’re talking about managed IT services because, if you pick the right company, your provider isn’t just going to be your IT support vendor; they’re going to be your IT business partner.
Read on to understand what we’re talking about.
Choose the Right Managed IT Company
Many business leaders turn their attention to managed IT services when they suspect that they have gaps in their IT capability. They could have one or two internal people, or a very small one or two-person outsourced company taking care of all of their IT needs. As they seek an IT support solution that will bring them more technical expertise, it might seem like jumping to a huge, national managed service provider (MSP) is the right step to get all the IT capability that’s missing. Maybe it is -- but size alone may not be the best option if it turns out that you won’t get the attention or local support you need because you’re not one of their big customers.
You should be confident that the IT company you pick shares your goal of having a smooth running IT system. They should also be able to provide expertise in IT strategy so that they can help you make informed decisions about IT investments.
When you’re trying to predict if you’re going to be able to build a solid relationship with the MSP, you might want to ask around to see if the company is a good employer. If they’re a good employer, that’s a good signal that relationships are important to them, too.
Think of Your MSP as a Partner, Not a Vendor
In order to be able to advise you on IT, your MSP needs to have access to the leadership at your company in order to learn about your short and long-term goals. If this feels a little uncomfortable, then you might have to ask yourself if you chose the right company. You should feel a high level of trust with your MSP if you’re going to reveal your problems and challenges. You also need to trust that they’ll bring you sound advice.
Before you sign a contract, ask the IT provider how they will learn about your business. Their answer gives you an indication of the energy they’re going to put into the relationship. The company that really wants to be your partner will have a process for digging into your operations so that they can understand your business and ultimately help you to use technology to better serve your customers and meet your business objectives.
Be Prepared to Act on Recommendations
What if you went to a personal trainer and got a customized health improvement plan but then you never followed it -- do you think you’d see any results? No. It works the same way with your managed IT services partner.
In the early days of your relationship, some improvements may be needed. That means you may have to spend some money and/or do some things differently than you’ve done previously. For example, if your network has consumer-level switches, you’ll need to upgrade to a business-grade. This makes the switch manageable both from a maintenance and security perspective.
Your MSP isn’t going to make you do anything. The decisions about what improvements and investments you’ll make are still going to be your decisions. Stalling progress by inactivity will ultimately backfire and could actually cost you more in the long run.
Let’s say you don’t want to implement a vital piece of the security process that your MSP uses. They may come back with a stipulation that if you experience a cyber attack you pay all the costs for remediation. If you do experience a cyber attack (and you probably will in this scenario), it will cost a lot more than it would have to make the improvement that the MSP recommended.
Communication is a key component of a successful relationship with your managed IT services provider. Whether that is letting them in on your plans to open a new office, or confiding that you’re having some financial difficulties, the channels of communication need to be open. This is easy when your relationship is built on trust.
Looking for an IT Business Partner?
Accent Computer Solutions guides companies headquartered in Southern California through the complicated world of IT by providing Managed IT Services. We help companies leverage technology to meet their goals while giving them the fast, friendly, frustration-free IT experience they want.
Contact us for a FREE IT assessment to see if you have gaps in IT that managed services can fill.
About Courtney Casey
In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.