Given the growing number of mobile devices, ever-increasing data volumes and never-ending barrage of security threats, IT management is more complex than ever. Many IT teams are turning to managed services providers (MSPs) for help, handing off monitoring, routine maintenance and troubleshooting so they can focus on more strategic projects.

Industry trends show high demand for managed services across every industry vertical. Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the managed services market will grow from $142.75 billion in 2013 to $256.05 billion in 2018.

Managed services can reduce IT costs by 30 percent to 40 percent, and increase operational efficiency by almost 50 percent to 60 percent. MSPs shoulder some of the risks associated with IT management, and provide organizations with greater flexibility and technical advantage. But as with anything else, not all MSPs are created equal.

Just as IT infrastructure has become more complex, the process of choosing the right MSP isn’t as simple as checking off a list of services and finding the lowest prices. It’s about forming a strategic partnership that can truly elevate your organization in the eyes of customers, employees and other key stakeholders.

A good MSP will start by asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of listening. Beyond technology, the MSP needs to understand how your organization operates and its short- and long-term goals. Only after learning the ins and outs of your organization can the MSP conduct an effective evaluation of your IT environment.

This comprehensive assessment includes analyzing hardware, software, applications, security, processes, costs and how they impact the way you do business. Your MSP shouldn’t just recommend what equipment and services you need. They should be able to tell you what each component will enable your organization to accomplish, how it will be accomplished, how long it will take and how much it will cost.

Roles must be specifically defined and mutually agreed upon, and realistic expectations must be set, in order to avoid confusion that could damage the partnership. What responsibilities are best kept in house, and what should be turned over to the MSP? While lines of communication must always remain open, there should be a clear procedure in place for reporting and responding to problems and offering feedback, verbally and electronically.

Depending upon the state of affairs, a major shift in your approach to IT may be in order. That’s why trust is critically important when choosing a MSP. You need to believe in the service provider’s expertise and the quality of their services, and you have every right to ask them to validate their claims in the form of case studies and references. You need to trust your MSP as a strategic advisor, not just a technology expert.

If the MSP tries to win your business by dropping prices instead of offering better solutions, you may need to question the value of that provider’s services. Upfront savings are temporary. Real solutions will have a lasting impact on your organization.

Finally, make sure the members of your organization understand why you’re partnering with an MSP. The goal isn’t to make someone expendable. The goal is to allow employees to use their skills and talents in a way that enhances both the organization and their careers while helping the organization operate more effectively and efficiently. When everyone shares the same vision for the organization, the partnership with your MSP will be that much more effective.

IPC Technologies provides expert managed services across the IT and communications infrastructure. We can keep your infrastructure running efficiently to support your business objectives.

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