While there’s no shortage of guidelines for helping businesses choose a technology partner, a lot of them miss a crucial point. Your relationship with an MSP should primarily be about working toward technology alignment. There’s a lot more to outsourcing your IT requirements than technology alone. The ultimate goal should always be to choose IT solutions that align with business priorities and solve problems. That’s why any MSP you end up working with must be prepared to offer a tailored approach, rather than trying to push you into a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are five signs of an MSP that’s worth working with:
#1. They spend more time listening than speaking
The difference between a salesperson and a dependable business partner is that the former will do all the talking. When it comes to forming valuable business partnerships, it’s far more about mutual understanding than just closing a sale. To that end, an MSP should first be willing to learn about your business and its needs, challenges, and priorities. If they’re the ones doing most of the talking, then they likely don’t have your goals at heart. When evaluating technology partners, those who ask lots of questions and are willing to discuss the business problem are the ones worth working with.
#2. They have a thorough understanding of your industry
Technology might be getting easier to use from an end-user perspective but, under the hood, things have never been more complicated. No two IT infrastructures look the same, and every business and industry face unique challenges. For example, healthcare providers are subject to special compliance requirements like HIPAA and HITECH, while finance firms are governed by regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and PCI DSS. Given the multifaceted nature of modern technology, it’s imperative that any potential technical partner has a deep understanding of your industry. If they can’t demonstrate experience and expertise in your sector, then there’s little chance of them being able to fully understand your business goals.
#3. They are willing to serve as an extension to your team
Always be wary of MSPs who are constantly trying to upsell and cross-sell. Similarly, those who try to convince you that everything you’re doing is bad and that you need to start from scratch, are not the sort of people you want to work with. Working with an MSP doesn’t have to mean outsourcing your technology needs in full, and neither should it involve spending huge amounts of money doing something completely new. A dependable partner augments your existing IT department and infrastructure. It’s all about delegating work more efficiently and adopting a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.
#4. They offer flexible solutions to adapt to changing needs
Achieving technology alignment is impossible, simply because technology isn’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean it’s not something you should work toward. Technology alignment is an ongoing journey driven by adaptability to change. Every business needs to become as agile as possible to keep up with the competition, and your technology partners must be able to accommodate that flexibility. To align with your business goals, which themselves will change regularly, you’ll want to avoid technology partners that try to enforce vendor lock-in and other restrictions.
#5. They don’t have any hidden costs
Hidden costs can quickly drain any IT budget. In fact, one of the reasons companies outsource their technology processes and solutions is to turn unpredictable capital expenses into ongoing operational costs that are easy to budget for. Unfortunately, some are less transparent than others when it comes to costs. A common example is data egress fees, in which clients have to pay to move data from one cloud service to another or take it back in-house. Always lookout for these additional fees, and ensure any company you choose to work with is upfront about any additional expenses.
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