The Top 5 Considerations When Selecting an IT Services Partner

When speaking with small business owners and decision-makers, we often encounter a similar perspective to IT and approach to technology management.  When asked how impactful a major breach or full stop to billing or technical operations would be to their business most answer the same, it would have a major impact to revenue, client confidence, and overall operations.

If you can’t invoice, produce products, or service your clients everything falls apart…correct? 

If your employees are constantly plagued by technology issues, productivity takes a nosedive…right?

The interesting thing is many of these same business leaders continue to view their IT management and cybersecurity spend as an SG&A line item and fail to view their investment in technology and cybersecurity as an asset to their business.  Time and time again they select their MSP or IT partner largely based on price instead of results, over time become unhappy, yet repeat the same process with the new vendor.

Patient: “Doctor, every time I do this it hurts.”

Doctor: “Well stop doing that.”

Yeah…exactly…stop doing that!

Here are the top 5 considerations when selecting an IT services partner:

1: Are you spending enough?

Sorry, it costs more to do more. That’s a fact nobody can change. If you’re selecting primarily on price, you will absolutely get what you pay for, a reactive-only partner. For an MSP to dedicate roles for strategic guidance, proactive risk and ticket reduction, cybersecurity, and reactive support, it takes skilled resources, deep processes, and tools. There’s a cost to provide those critical functions to clients.

Let’s consider the payroll for a small 50-person company. Conservatively, you have a monthly fully loaded payroll of $300,000. In 2022, a security and process-focused MSP should cost around $8,5000 to $9,000 per month, or more for more complex environments or extensive compliance requirements. That’s less than 3% of your payroll and even less of your monthly operating expenses. Furthermore, considering your IT partner should play a pivotal role in keeping your team productive and your business secure and operational, the cost is minimal, considering the impact technology has on the health of your operations.

2: Are you viewing your IT partner as a vendor instead of an integral member of your team?

We often see this in law firms, where the firm will form a technology committee to make decisions about technology in the firm. Yet, their technology partner is not an active participant. Wait…what?

Your technology partner should understand your business challenges and operations so that they can align your technology with your business plan. That requires a reasonable time commitment from the client and the technology partner to achieve optimal results. Technology is the partner’s area of expertise, so leverage that. Most companies expect their IT partner to understand their operations, so let them in.

3: Are you too focused on reactive support service level agreements (SLAs) and not enough on the areas which cause the tickets in the first place?

Prospective clients often ask us about our ticket SLAs. While that’s a reasonable conversation to have, the better question for a prospective MSP is what their process is for reducing the number of tickets. The focus should be on lowering the ticket noise, which affects your team’s productivity, not fighting fires. So, what is the IT partner’s process for reducing problems before they occur?

A cut-rate reactive help desk will focus exclusively on knocking out tickets, but how does that really help your organization? Aren’t you better off without the tickets in the first place?

4: How security-focused is the IT partner?

With so much risk of breach these days, and the potential impact on your operations, you need a security first MSP. Period. Modern cybersecurity controls (as required by most insurance carriers and for compliance) should be baked into their managed offering, not optional.  At a minimum, those controls should include EDR endpoint security, multifactor authentication (MFA) on all points of entry, hardened email filtering and encryption, and security awareness training and phish test for ALL users.

You should also understand, there is a lot of risk for your technology partner unless you adopt a solid cybersecurity posture as the client. Not only legal risk to your partner but the risk of time. If you are breached, a true technology partner won’t just throw their hands up and say, “we told you so.” Breach remediation can be a massive effort, so your MSP has a lot on the line.

5: How are the IT partner’s teams structured?

Many companies don’t realize that many MSPs have their team members wearing too many hats. That’s a red flag you shouldn’t dismiss. They may have help desk technicians working on tickets one day and projects the next. That approach invites inefficiency, mistakes, and a lack of specialization and focus.

You want to hire a partner with dedicated teams structured around specific areas of service delivery. For example, teams should be structured around strategic, reactive, proactive, centralized, and cybersecurity services and projects.

Our mission at Mentis Group is to EMPOWER our clients to focus on their business, not technology. We’d love to discuss how our team may help you achieve your ambitious business goals for 2022. So, if you’re ready to begin, click here.