These warning signs will help you avoid the instability that comes with an unqualified IT services partner.
There’s been an enormous proliferation in the number of managed IT service providers (MSPs) in recent years. Experts think there are around 40,000 MSPs currently in the United States, with that number likely to grow over the next few years.
One reason why the MSP market has grown so quickly is because the managed service model is simply better than the break-fix model. It offers businesses greater network reliability and valuable strategic partnership for a flat monthly fee, eliminating the hidden charges and uncertainty that once plagued the IT services field.
Unfortunately, another reason for this rapid growth is the low barrier to entry for starting an MSP. With a few simple tools, pretty much anyone can claim to offer proactive network services and call themselves an MSP, even if they have none of the resources or experience of an established firm. These low-value providers, who compete mainly by undercutting the pricing of reputable firms, can pose a serious threat to your business.
Here are 5 ways you can spot unqualified IT services firms before they harm your business
1. They’re Outsourcing Your Support to Someone Else
Many businesses aren’t aware, but there are many companies offering to outsource IT functions for the MSP market. That’s right, there’s outsourcing for the outsourcers. Many of the core functions of an MSP, including help desk support, proactive network monitoring and maintenance, and cybersecurity functions can be purchased from a white label provider, without their clients even knowing it.
Reputable MSPs like Complete Network keep all key technical functions in-house, maximizing their ability to offer secure, personalized service to each client.
Often this outsourcing is done from a foreign country, like India or the Philippines. While companies in these regions make many claims about their service quality, any company that’s outsourcing to a foreign country is not offering you optimal network support, while potentially putting your data at risk.
Outsourcing core MSP services to a third-party vendor leads to the following problems:
- A lack of unified culture
- Poor personal relationships or investment in your business
- Unclear service-level agreements and poor control over maintenance processes
- Lack of legal accountability in the event of data loss, breach, or negligence
2. They Have High Employee Turnover
Finding and retaining qualified staff is a central part of any MSPs job, which is another major reason why so many companies are tempted to outsource their work. Not only does outsourcing save them labor cost, it also saves them the trouble of finding qualified people, training them, and providing them with an engaging work environment.
But there’s no replacement for building a team and a company culture. In fact, it’s central to providing consistent, customized service to their clients. Quality MSPs like Complete Network maintain a staff of technicians and engineers who are deeply invested in the long-term success of their clients.
- Dedicated teams with delineated responsibilities
- Senior engineering staff who have a long history with the company
- A strong culture of employee engagement and internal advancement
- Talent acquisition, upskilling, and other HR processes honed over 20 years
3. They Lack a Reputation for Creating Success
MSPs flourish when they have a track-record of customer success they can point to. Satisfied clients are the best way an MSP can demonstrate to prospects that they can truly improve the stability and uptime of a network. If you’re speaking with an MSP who can’t or won’t talk about those successes, that indicates a problem.
Look for a potential IT partner to discuss customer satisfaction in as much detail as you need, including information about specific technologies used, challenges they helped the client overcome, new initiatives that they helped plan, and more.
Here are some data points that you can ask a prospective technology partner to provide:
- Help desk KPIs like average time to support ticket resolution
- Client satisfaction (CSAT) scores and client feedback data
- Social proof such as testimonials
Complete Network is very proud of the customer-centric service that we’ve been providing for almost 20 years. If you’re curious, you can read more about some of our notable client success cases here and here.
4. Suspiciously Low Pricing
If you ever receive quotes from an MSP that’s drastically lower than others, you should pause to ask yourself how they’re able to offer prices that are so much lower than the competition. There are, after all, fixed costs involved in keeping a team of top-flight engineers employed, arming them with the latest tools, and allowing them the time to truly find the right solution for each issue.
Questions you may ask to determine how they’re cutting costs, include:
- Do they have strong technology partnership with vendors?
- How big is their engineering staff? How about their help desk team?
- Are their certifications up to date? Are they from leading bodies?
- Do they have documented support process for each of the systems in your network?
Cybersecurity is an area in which cut-rate providers have a particularly difficult time keeping up. Ensuring strong cybersecurity takes the right tools. It also takes the focused attention of defenders who are armed with the latest intelligence.
The problems of cut-rate cybersecurity apply to internal cybersecurity as much as external security. In recent years, there has been a rash of cyberattacks targeting MSPs. In these attacks, an MSP is infiltrated so that hackers can use their privileged accounts to compromise their clients. These attacks highlight the importance of working with a qualified partner who doesn’t cut security corners.
5. They Neglect Important Details
A quality managed IT services provider will use the latest best practices and tools to build a customized technology support solution for your business. That solution should be the product of a long analysis, in which they examine your existing technology, learn about your business goals during sit-down meetings with your decision makers, and then develop a plan to help guide and protect your business as it grows.
When an unqualified MSP takes over your network, they’re very likely going to offer you a one-size-fits-all solution. This approach very often leads to important systems not getting the proper attention or support.
Here are some areas that low-value MSPs commonly overlook:
- Default passwords that haven’t been changed
- Misconfigured backup and disaster recovery systems
- Poorly configured network devices, like firewalls and routers
- Remote desktop protocol that’s exposed to the Internet
These aren’t just careless mistakes. Many of these can leave your network exposed to hackers, potentially leading to serious network downtime or data loss. If you suspect that a provider is taking a short-cut, you should proactively ask them to clarify their processes around these areas and make sure they’re taking the proper steps.
Complete Network – Technology Partnership That’s Truly Worry Free
The best way to ensure your technology provides consistent, long-term functionality is to partner with an IT services firm with an established reputation for excellence, like Complete Network. For decades, we’ve helped businesses in upstate New York and the Charlotte, North Carolina area streamline their networks and realize the highest levels of uptime and security, without second guessing or uncertainty.
Want to experience the difference of truly expert technology service? Our dedicated, friendly team is always available to answer your questions or chat. Call us any time at 877.877.1840 or email us at [email protected], we look forward to speaking with you!