What is a Managed Service Provider? (And what isn’t?)
December 12, 2016
These days a lot of companies claim to be a Managed Service Provider, but don’t actually follow the model. So to help you better understand some differences, we’ve laid out some thoughts on how you can distinguish between the haves and have-nots.
Let’s start with a definition – a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a team of IT experts who provide a defined set of IT related services for a fixed monthly cost.
Simple enough. But let’s break this down a bit.
A TEAM OF EXPERTS
So right from the start, you’ll notice one of the defining characteristics of a MSP is “a team of experts”. When you sign up for a MSP, you are doing so for the certifications, credentials and experience of a group of highly-specialized IT staff. What you want is a team who can both readily handle IT related issues swiftly and have the technical know-how to plan for an optimal IT future. When you begin a dialogue with a potential MSP vendor, be sure to ask how many actual people will be servicing your account and what specifically these technical people bring to the table. While there may be rock stars out there that can handle all aspects of your IT by themselves, we’d err on the side of caution with these people. Remember, there are more people who claim to be rock stars than actual rock stars. We’d suggest you go with the team instead.
FIXED MONTHLY COSTS
The second thing you will notice is fixed monthly costs. One of the many advantages of a MSP is that you have the dependability of knowing exactly what your IT bill is going to be. Month to month, your bill should stay the same against the defined services you’ve requested. These services may include monitoring, vendor management, procurement, service desk support, unified communications, etc. Whatever the agreement, your costs should not fluctuate unless there are projects that fall outside the defined services. Again, that is what an MSP should look like, but some don’t seem to include new costs from month to month. Be sure to ask your potential MSP how they go about the priorities for your business and how certain tasks will affect your costs.
TRUE IT PARTNER
Lastly, a proper MSP should act as your Information Technology Partner and be capable of planning for a better future for your business. While MSPs can act as a company’s stand-alone IT department or can just supplement the knowledge of internal staff, it is important that your MSP have the foresight to help grow your business. This means they need to have a roadmap and provide documentation around the types of steady improvements necessary to maintain optimal efficiency and long-term IT health. Be sure to ask any potential MSPs for a roadmap and have them relay to you how this will affect your business. Your MSP relationship should always be proactive rather than re-active so you stay ahead of the curve not in a break-fix endless cycle.
As an MSP, Advanced Network Solutions offers a team of experts with specific, deep knowledge in critical IT-related functions. We also maintain a fixed cost for our clients that has proven to be 99.98% correct in our initial proposals (no hidden costs, no overages). Last but not least, each of our clients are provided with a dedicated vCIO to proactively manage future IT needs. We’ve made these investments in our business because we’ve seen the great outcomes for our clients and believe that offering true, first-class managed services is what Nashville businesses need. If you are interested in finding out more and understanding any number of our value-added services, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.