Signs you need a new managed services provider

Are you confident that your managed service provider is delivering consistent value for money and clear benefits? Perhaps you’re considering managed IT services for the first time. What are the red flags to avoid when choosing a managed service provider?

We took some time to ask our expert team what red flags you should watch out for with your managed services provider. Noticing these signs could help you to avoid headaches and protect profits.

Smaller companies = bigger ups and downs

Stability is crucial for smooth, uninterrupted IT support. Instabilities like staff shortages, major client movement (in or out), or even financial fluctuations can drastically affect the level of services that your business receives from a smaller managed service provider. It’s not something you’d commonly question when sourcing managed IT services. But it’s certainly worth the due diligence so you receive the level of services you need.

The amount and depth of staff expertise in your managed service provider (MSP) is a crucial factor – especially the availability of those people when you need help. Client Engagement Principal Jarrod O’Connor Price explains:

“A massive advantage of using an MSP is the way it can extend the capabilities and reach of your own IT team. A great MSP allows smaller businesses to access enterprise-level IT services, skills and knowledge that far outweighs what the business could afford independently.

“So, if the provider is too small, localised or niche, it could impact your business. A smaller IT services provider may not be able to scale with your needs or may have limited knowledge. This would mean you’d need to find (and pay) other specialists to deal with more complex or emerging IT issues.

“If this is a red flag for you, it would pay to check ‘who does what’ regarding that provider, to identify possible gaps in service that are critical to your business’s future.”

Jarrod O’Connor-Price, Client Engagement Principal

Service Level Agreements: what’s missing?

Most managed service providers enter into service level agreements (SLA)with their clients – and that’s a good thing. But experience tells us that poorly understood or executed agreements can result in exclusions that cost your business extra in the long run. Your IT team could suddenly find themselves dealing with multiple vendors to solve problems, instead of relying on a single managed service provider for the full range of IT services and tech support.

It’s also important that your managed service provider is vendor (brand) agnostic when considering the IT services and IT support you need. They should also recommend solutions based on your needs, not on their own partnerships. All these issues and more should be clearly spelled out in the SLA, then monitored as time goes by.

Vipin Hooda – one of our Principal Solutions Consultants – has worked in the MSP sector for years and knows the SLA pitfalls to look out for:

“We’ve found that many MSPs outsource some of their services where they can’t provide in-house expertise, and often the support provided by those external partners or vendors is excluded from a customer’s SLA. This fine print can really catch you out.

A ‘loose’ SLA can result in a below-average MSP experience. Read through and question the exclusions and conditions before signing up. It’s okay to question every aspect until a complete understanding is reached on both sides.”

 Vipin Hooda, Principal Solutions Consultant

Long-term relationship with your MSP? Not always a good thing.

Has your managed service provider been the same for years? Same people, technology and way of doing things? This situation might be familiar and comfortable, but it could be harming your business.

Technology is changing faster than ever. As advancements and automations become mainstream to help businesses work smarter, your managed service provider should consistently recommend improvements. They should also spot opportunities to safeguard and streamline your work.

“Your MSP account manager should understand your business, your goals, and be in regular contact to help you evolve and move forward. Your MSP should be on the leading edge of technology-based solutions and be constantly evolving to offer their clients the latest innovations.”

Jarrod O’Connor-Price, Client Engagement Principal

Service and support levels slacking off

The relationship with your managed service provider started off all new and shiny. You expected that your IT service and support would reach promised new levels. But suddenly, you start to experience unreliable service and unsatisfactory support. It could be slow response to requests and logged jobs, increasing resolution times or unsolved issues, perhaps even unplanned downtimes. And very little proactive engagement, especially around IT strategic direction and innovation.

Speaking to our Head of Channels Michael Crowhen, if you are experiencing any of the above it may be time to re-examine your managed service provider’s value proposition:

“Look for and engage with an organisation that prioritises the time to truly understand your business. Then together you should develop a clear, measurable and attainable IT Service and Roadmap that will boost your business and give you real security and peace of mind. That’s the real value of a great managed service provider.

It’s the difference between a trusted partner and a transactional service. A trusted partner is not just someone who’s there when things go wrong, it’s someone who makes sure you avoid the problem in the first place. A transactional service sells the dream, sets you up, and is hard to find when things change.”

Michael Crowhen, Head of Channels

Thin communication, veiled transparency

If you only hear from your managed services provider when there’s an issue, that’s an issue. If you don’t have a dedicated account manager and no regular communication protocols underway, it’s time to think about changing it up.

Regular communication and two-way engagement can uncover cost savings, business efficiencies and make sure you get the service you’re paying for. Unexpected invoices, thinly-veiled extra charges or bill shock should just never happen.

And yes, this type of relationship is possible. As a customer success manager, Justine Sau comments this is key to your business success:

“Regular communication and catchups on business progression and the services you need is invaluable. That’s why we look at trends in service delivery, report on system performance and much more.

Any trends we’re seeing are raised quickly, well ahead of it becoming critical or urgent. Doing this as soon as possible allows us to put a clear risk mitigation and resolution strategy in play, allowing our customers to plan ahead and inform users of any impact.”

Justine Sau, Customer Success Manager

Regular communication also ensures your managed services provider is aligned and aware of your business goals and strategies, ensuring they can add value and drive success for your business.

Alarm bells going off for you and your managed service provider?

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