What begins as a purely technical process should flourish into long-term partnership based on a shared definition of success.

The concept of a managed IT services provider (MSP) is to provide the outsourced support that a business needs to thrive. In some cases, that means a fully managed IT support solution that puts everything — from server and application management, to help desk support and IT roadmap — in the hands of the MSP.

Other times, the MSP will serve as a strategic partner to your internal IT department, freeing them from work that’s outside their core competencies and allowing them to focus on what they do best.

While many people understand the concept of a MSP partnership, numerous individuals are still unclear on what that successful partnership means on a day-to-day practical level. Below we’ll explore how a typical MSP engagement gets off the ground and flourishes.

Phase 1 – System Audit and On-Boarding Meetings

Once you’ve taken an MSP onboard as your IT partner, they’ll start by performing a thorough audit of your technology. This may be a more in-depth version of a preliminary audit that the MSP performed during the sales process.

The audit should be comprehensive, covering technical, operational, and cultural dimensions, so that the MSP understands how your business has approached IT in the past and how it would like to improve that approach moving forward. Ensuring that alignment between your business goals and technology is one of the central jobs of the MSP. This audit will include areas, such as:

  • Network health and availability metrics
  • Data backups and network resiliency
  • Cloud applications and quality of service (QoS)
  • Cybersecurity and regulatory compliance risks

This initial on-boarding phase is an opportunity for you to set expectations for the future of the relationship. While the MSP should be forthright about what performance metrics they plan on tracking in their service level agreement (SLA), now is a good time to emphasize any additional priorities and ensure that they are prepared to take responsibility for them.

Phase 2 – Address Chronic IT Issues, Streamline Efficiency, and Improve Security

Armed with a clear understanding of what systems are best supporting your team and which aren’t, the MSP should recommend a list of improvements you can make to improve the efficiency, stability, and security of your network technology. Common elements here include the following:

  • Update software and devices
    Systems that haven’t been updated recently can prevent data from flowing efficiently and leave a big window open for hackers to climb through. Your MSP should prioritize addressing those inefficiencies, while keeping an eye on the big picture to ensure optimal interoperability among all your technology. One study by security solution provider Edgescan, for example, found that nearly 20% of all vulnerabilities caused by unpatched software are considered “high risk” or “critical”.
  • Eliminate hardware bottlenecks
    Even slight delays or latencies can cause serious disruptions to your operations. This is especially true in larger organizations or those that rely on cloud computing applications to function. Your MSP should identify those problem areas and offer advice on what hardware will best suit your business objectives.
  • Improve your security and compliance posture
    Businesses of all sizes are contending with serious cybersecurity MSPs with a robust security offering like Complete Network will provide the expertise and tools you need to address those challenges, minimize the risk of security breach, and ensure that systems are positioned for ongoing security and compliance.
  • Migrate key services to the cloud
    Cloud computing has fundamentally transformed the way teams share data, collaborate, and interact with customers. Your MSP should provide the skills and strategic vision to get your company’s relevant systems migrated to the cloud and keep them operational and secure.

Cloud computing continues to help small and midsized work more efficiently, while streamlining their IT spending. Learn how Complete Network helps companies embrace the cloud in our comprehensive guide to cloud migration.

Phase 3 – Maintain a Proactive and Forward-Thinking IT Strategy

Once your network is updated, aligned with your business goals, and configured to complement the way your staff works best, then your MSP relationship enters a phase of vigorous maintenance and support. This should include a long checklist of regular maintenance work, including:

  • Help desk support to maintain peak productivity
    Whether you have internal IT staff or rely on your MSP for comprehensive support, a major part of their offering will probably include a responsive IT help desk. The help desk will address your staff’s support tickets and make sure that your IT stays functioning properly. Want to learn what Complete Network considers an effective help desk solution? Click here to learn more.
  • Vigilant network monitoring and maintenance
    The MSP should bring a suite of resources to help make sure that your technology remains available and efficient, including a network operations center (NOC) staffed with engineers 24/7 who will keep a watchful eye on your technology.

But remember, the MSP relationship is not a purely technical one. As the provider should seek to offer the best service possible, it’s important that you and your team take proactive steps to leverage the MSP’s expertise. Here’s are some tips you can take to make the most of your MSP relationship.

  • Communicate frequently and openly
    Keep your MSP updated of any changes to your business or goals that involve technology. Many veteran MSPs will provide a dedicated consultant, known as a virtual chief information officer (vCIO), to consult you on which technologies are right for your business and how to deploy them with maximum impact.
  • Stay open to new ways of technology management
    Your MSP isn’t an employee that can readily conform to your company culture, it will bring a unique set of tools and processes to the relationship, along with a well-defined approach on how to use them.
    While you can ask that they customize their solutions to meet your work style, it comes with risks. The more the MSP deviates from these established processes, the less consistent their support, and the greater the chance that uncertainty creeps into your network.

Complete Network – A Documented Process for Managed IT Success

Are you a business in Albany, New York or Charlotte, North Carolina that wants to achieve a strong, proactive approach to technology? Perhaps you’ve been disappointed by lackluster MSP services in the past? If so, Complete Network is happy to help. Contact us any time at [email protected] or 877.877.1840 to ask questions or learn how a veteran MSP can support your business goals.

How To Supplement Your Internal IT Team.

In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.

Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.

The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.

This guide covers:

  • • Aligning technology with business goals
  • • Reducing churn while preserving institutional knowledge
  • • Empowering your staff to maximize productivity
  • • Achieving the highest level of cybersecurity defense

Download it for free by filling out the form here.