There are many mistakes you should avoid when selecting your MSP. To be honest, the most critical mistakes will differ depending on who you are, your organizational needs, the type of MSP you are talking to, and a few other factors. 

Nevertheless, there are some fundamentals we can generally apply whenever you are discussing the engagement of an MSP. I came across an article the other day (author unknown) and the title was “5 Mistakes to Avoid When Using Managed IT Services”. It’s a short article, but it got me thinking about how I would approach an MSP if I was a potential customer. 

Now, there are some very valid points in this article, and there are some which are more debatable. You can come to your own conclusions. In this episode, cover each of the 5 points made by the author and offer my own analysis. 

 

Highlights:  

  • Don’t go cheap. Price as a major factor in considering MSPs is generally not a good idea. Rarely does it yield the best provider at the best price. More often it will preclude the best MSPs and get you the least qualified provider’s, many of which may even be new to managed services or even break/fix companies posing as MSPs. The point is price, while important for budgeting, should not be the primary determining factor on which MSP you select. 
  • Trust but Verify. Having referenceable accounts to share with prospects is important. But, MSPs are not like restaurants and they do not have Yelp reviews. Beyond having client references, most current organizations are wise when it comes to selecting an MSP and want to independently validate the MSP before engagement. Platforms such as MSP Verify can give customers that independent Verification to supplement those client references. If you do not have any independent method of demonstrating who you are as an MSP, life is going to be difficult for you from now on. 
  • Initial assessments. Nearly all MSPs will perform some type of assessment for new customers. What differs from MSP to MSP is whether or not they charge for that initial assessment. Before any MSP will engage with a customer, they must understand what devices and objects they are managing. Some MSPs will offer such an assessment but include a service fee for it . Others will do it as a show of good faith and not charge a fee. There is, however, no standard practice when it comes to whether assessments are charged or not. Just be aware that this variance does exist within the managed services profession.
  • Hardware support. As with the previous point, not all MSPs sell and support hardware. There are many types of MSPs on planet, many of them do support IT hardware. As a matter of best practices, most MSPs I know will make it a requirement that the IT hardware they are supporting comes with some sort of manufacturer warranty. This is simply a best practice and not many MSPs will depart from this. I will say that it is very common for customers, particularly those with legacy IT systems and devices, to seek out MSPs who will take on management of those devices even though they are out of warranty. The reason for this should be obvious; the customer thinks that it is cheaper for them to manage these old, out of warranty devices than it is to refresh them at market cost. 
  • Hardware consulting. Not all MSP’s sell hardware. This may seem like an odd thing to say but it is true. I know many MSPs that will influence and provide guidance when it comes to procurement of it hardware but will not involve themselves in the sale. Other MSPs will gladly sell customers hardware, if only to prevent meddling from outside vendors during the hardware sales process. Just know that there is no common practice when it comes to selling hardware. Find the MSP that feels right to you and if hardware procurement is a significant need, then make sure your MSP understands that from the outset. 

 

MSP Zone Reading Material: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Using Managed IT services – The Open News (openthenews.com)

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