Things to Ensure You Get the Most of Your MSP Relationship
Managed Service Provider (MSP) relationships can offer numerous benefits, from operational efficiencies to cost savings. However, when these relationships fail, it can lead to disruptions, unexpected expenses, and strategic misalignments. Here are some reasons why MSP relationships might falter:
- Mismatched Expectations: If both parties don’t clearly understand the expectations, it can lead to dissatisfaction. This includes clarity on the scope of services, deliverables, performance metrics, and response times.
- Inadequate Communication: Consistent and transparent communication is vital. A lack of regular updates, feedback loops, and open dialogue can erode trust.
- Lack of Expertise: If an MSP lacks the necessary skills or knowledge to handle specific tasks or challenges, it can result in service delivery issues and operational setbacks.
- Financial Discrepancies: Disputes over billing, hidden costs, or a feeling of not receiving value for money can strain the relationship.
- Cultural and Organizational Mismatches: Differences in organizational culture, work ethics, or even time zones can result in misunderstandings and friction.
- Inflexibility: If an MSP is not willing or able to adapt to changing client needs, or if their services are too rigid, it can hinder the client’s operational agility.
- Poor Performance and Service Quality: Slow response times, frequent downtimes, or recurrent issues can quickly sour a relationship.
- Security Concerns: Data breaches or perceived vulnerabilities in the MSP’s infrastructure can erode trust, especially if the MSP is slow to address these concerns.
- Over-dependence: If a client becomes too dependent on their MSP without a backup plan or knowledge transfer, it can lead to feelings of vulnerability and being “locked in.
- Contractual Issues: Ambiguous contract terms or overly rigid contracts can lead to disputes and dissatisfaction.
- Lack of Strategic Alignment: The MSP’s vision and direction may diverge from the client’s business strategy, leading to misaligned priorities.
- Inadequate Onboarding or Transitioning: A rocky start due to poor onboarding processes or challenges during the transition phase can set a negative tone for the entire relationship.
- Lack of Trust: This is foundational. If either party feels the other isn’t acting in good faith, the relationship is bound to suffer.
Do a Reference Check
Did you pick the first MSP you found on the Google search? Did you just go by the presentations they gave you or the information on their website? Always remember to ask your MSP for references. Talk to someone they work with and get feedback.
Ensure They Have Enough Staff
If your MSP is short of staff, they won’t be able to give you the attention you need. One of the biggest advantages of bringing an MSP on board is having someone who proactively manages and monitors your IT requirements– something you cannot do without a full-fledged IT department. So, your MSP must be well-staffed.
Vett Experience Level
Before you bring an MSP on board, please pay attention to how long they have been in business. This is important because the whole idea behind hiring an MSP is to leverage their knowledge and expertise. Secondly, someone who has been in the business for quite some time is more likely to be able to scale with you as you grow.
Ensure they are Capable of the Time Commitment.
You want your MSP to be available 24/7, because, with IT, you never know when the problem will arise. Not only should your MSP be proactively monitoring your IT infrastructure to ensure everything runs smoothly, they should also be able to resolve IT issues when they happen–time and day notwithstanding so that your business is back up and running as soon as possible.
List Your Needs
Sometimes, as you grow, your IT needs to change. You may need much more support and new technologies you didn’t think you’d need earlier. In such cases, if your MSP cannot grow and scale with you, then the relationship won’t work.
To foster a successful MSP relationship, both parties should prioritize clear communication, align expectations, actively monitor and address concerns, and remain flexible to changing needs. Regular reviews and feedback sessions can also help keep the relationship healthy and productive.