Cultivating strong and lasting professional relationships are essential to the success of any business. Outsourcing your IT needs to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can put your organisation on the fast-track to success and help grow your business….if you’re able to establish a solid working relationship from the outset. Partnering with an MSP gives them access to your internal IT environment and systems, which can have significant long-term impacts on your end-users and organisation as a whole. Therefore, it’s important that your MSP-client partnership is built on a shared understanding of your business’ needs, abilities and goals. A successful working relationship with your MSP can have a number of benefits for your business including:
- Improved efficiency of business operations
- Enhanced cyber security and data protection (including meeting all regulatory standards and maintaining compliance)
- Ensuring uptime through a proactive approach to system maintenance and repairs
- Reduce overhead costs through a predictable pricing structure
- Access to latest, cutting edge technologies
While trust and respect can take time to build in any relationship, here are our tips to starting off your MSP partnership on the right foot!
1. Choose Your Provider Wisely
First things first, you need to find an MSP that fits your needs! Every MSP is different and not every MSP may offer the services your business requires. For instance, the industry and/or sector your business operates within may necessitate specialised IT knowledge, eg. industry and legal regulations, specialised platforms and software, IT conditions such as on-premises, cloud and hybrid environments.
The MSP you choose to partner with will drastically affect the efficacy and performance of your IT systems. In order to find one with the right services, qualifications and expertise, it’s important to develop a selection criteria that thoroughly outlines your organisations IT requirements.
2. Have Open and Clear Communication
We’ve heard it time and time again – communication is key! Being open and transparent will help your MSP to plan and implement successful technology solutions for your business. Communicate your goals and the direction of your business, as well as the capabilities, shortcomings and current state of your internal IT department.
It’s also imperative that you update your MSP to any changes that may have an impact on their work. For instance, if your business is planning any projects or initiatives that may affect your IT systems at some point in the near or even distant future. Making sure your MSP is aware of even the tiniest changes can minimise their disruption and prevent them from growing into a much bigger problem down the road.
3. Define Roles and Responsibilities
One of the best ways to ensure that the working relationship with your MSP is mutually beneficial is to clearly define the expectations of both parties. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) outlines the level of service required from the partnership. They are also beneficial in establishing what falls under the purview of the MSP and what needs to be dealt with by the internal IT staff. When drafting your SLA, play to the strengths and weaknesses of your team, that way your internal team can focus on what they do best and the MSP can fill in the gaps!
Defining the parameters, roles and responsibilities of your internal IT department and MSP partner ensures that everyone is able to collaborate and have a valuable contribution. It also ensures that you only pay for the managed services you need.
4. Plan For the Long-Term
There’s a difference between being a good partner to your MSP and being a preferred one. If you want your MSP to value your partnership, then you need to think long-term and get them involved in your strategic technology roadmap. Your MSP wants your business to succeed, so why not consult with them when growing and/or scaling your organisation?
Remember, relationships need to be nurtured in order to flourish, so consider checking in with your MSP from time to time. These sessions can be used to provide feedback, address any ongoing challenges or even to better develop your own understanding of the state of your organisations’ IT systems. It also gives your MSP a better insight into the current state of your business, which allows them to anticipate your needs and any potential issues.
This can lead to the development of better business practices and policies, while also allowing you to foster a stronger interpersonal relationship with your MSP.
5. Regularly Review Your Working Relationship
Relationships change, evolve and can (potentially) sour over time. That’s why you should conduct a regular audit of your MSP once (or even twice) a year. Even the most accredited and highly regarded MSP can still become a hindrance if your partnership is no longer simpatico. This can eventually lead to unanswered communications, unresolved IT issues and costly interruptions to your business operations.
Taking the time to review whether your IT needs are being met allows you to resolve any underlying tensions early on. Even if the working relationship can’t be salvaged, then at least your organisation is free to move on and start fresh with an MSP that may be a more suitable fit for your business.