Many businesses are working with managed service providers (MSP) because they’re realising the benefits of the partnership. But how can you maximise those benefits? How can you ensure you’re making the most of that investment? Here are eight best practices that can help you get the most out of the relationship with your MSP.
- Assess your business processes
- Set clear goals
- Open the lines of communication
- Establish clear expectations for the partnership
- Know where your MSP will sit within your corporate culture
- Be open to change
- Review the relationship - regularly
- Choose the right partner
1. Assess your business processes
If your MSP is going to help you improve the efficiency of your processes and applications, they must get up to speed on their current state. So, before you begin any work with them, spend some time assessing your processes and applications. Document how they work and their performance.
The more information you can provide your MSP, the easier and more quickly they can identify areas for optimisation.
2. Set clear goals
Along with your assessment of your current business processes, you must also include your goals. After all, the sooner your MSP knows precisely what you want to achieve, the sooner and more accurately they can chart a roadmap for you to follow.
As well as your direct goals, also consider:
- Secondary benefits
- Your challenges and pain points
- When you want to meet your goals and the order of priority
3. Open the lines of communication
It sounds simple enough but you’d be surprised how easy it is to neglect this step.
Make sure your MSP knows:
- Your goals (primary, secondary and otherwise)
- Your challenges and pain points
- Whether any projects are looming on the horizon that may impact your systems
Likewise, make sure you know:
- The capabilities of your MSP
- What other partner relationships your MSP has - for example, if they’re also a Microsoft partner, they may be able to offer you solution-based advice
Obviously, neither list is exhaustive but you should be getting the picture. Your MSP should be taking the time to get to know your business - that’s a given. But you should be investing that time right back.
It might seem counterintuitive - you’re paying someone to look after your business systems and infrastructure. Shouldn’t they be putting in the effort to please you? Well, yes but you should help them provide a superior service. And one way to do that is to maintain as transparent a relationship as possible.
4. Establish clear expectations for the partnership
Knowing what to expect of the partnership will help ensure its success too. This is where a clear SLA (Service Level Agreement) comes into play. When you’re setting that up, make sure you craft an agreement that allows your in-house team to do what they do best and your MSP to bridge the gaps while also knowing where the MSP will offer the most benefit.
It’s about knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses and mapping them alongside the MSP’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows everyone to contribute something of value and can help you maximise your MSP investment while keeping your in-house employees bought into the idea.
5. Know where your MSP will sit within your corporate culture
The right MSP will be one whose company culture fits neatly into your business’ culture. Make that process smoother by helping the MSP get to know your business and understand how you work. This will help them locate the right people and resources later down the line and avoid stepping on anyone’s toes.
6. Be open to change
If you’re working with an MSP, you must be open to change. It’s an inevitable part of the process. The right MSP will be managing your applications and systems, keeping them evergreen, minimising downtime and looking for areas of improvement. To keep pace with the competition, you may be required to change or transform.
It might be daunting but know that the right MSP will be fully equipped to help guide/support you through all this.
7. Review the relationship - regularly
It will help your relationship with your MSP if you check in with each other regularly. The best MSPs will make an effort to do this on a regular basis anyway, whether that’s a monthly video conference call, in-person meetings, a phone call etc.
Whatever the method, you should be assigned an account manager from the MSP’s side who will handle communications and ensure both parties are as happy with the relationship as possible.
Regular check-ins also give you both the chance to review what’s working, what’s not and plans for the future.
8. Choose the right partner
Not all MSPs are created equal so make sure you choose your partner wisely. Here are some of the criteria that can help you narrow down your options:
- Breadth of experience
- Range of solutions, services and capabilities
- Their company culture
- Other companies and projects they’ve worked with/on
Finding and working with the right MSP can set your business off on the right path. But don’t forget to build on that by focusing on the other seven points in this blog post.
Interested in reading more about managed services?
At the end of the day, working with an excellent MSP can do wonders for your business. But to truly get the most out of that investment, you must work to maintain a successful, productive partnership.
To read a little more about the managed services offerings your business should be looking out for, why not download our brochure? We explain managed services in more depth and cover the benefits a partnership with Columbus can offer businesses like yours.