Signs it may be time to look for a new MSP
I reach out to many people, in many different industries, to talk about our managed services solutions. All too often, they respond with “we have a guy” or “we’re good”. That’s when I typically ask, “How do you define good?” Don’t get me wrong… there are a lot of good MSPs out there, but there are a lot of “not so good” ones too.
Here are a few signs that may indicate it’s time explore other options.
The same issues over and over again
Are you experiencing the same issues over and over again? Your vendor may not monitoring your network accurately, they may not be documenting issues, or they may just keep putting a Band-Aid on the problem hoping it goes away. This indicates a lack of experience or lack of care in managing your systems.
A good MSP uses monitoring tools and a proactive support methodology to head off most issues before they impact your business. They also have a system in place to comprehensively document issues and resolutions. If an issue does occur, a good MSP should have the systems and processes in place to prevent it from happening again, or at least, an efficient process for resolving it. If they do detect a recurring issue, they should proactively reach out to you with advice on an alternative solution.
Lack of communication
Is your MSP taking longer to respond to your calls? Do you find yourself reporting critical issues that your MSP should have detected, i.e. system crash or internet outage? Do you find that you have to reach out for status updates on issues because you haven’t heard from your MSP? Is your MSP checking in with you regularly?
It is important that you have a well-defined service level agreement (SLA) that outlines levels of severity and response times. More importantly, your MSP should be communicating with you, proactively and regularly.
Leveraging their experience and the insight provided by their management tools, your MSP should be providing you advice on improvements beyond hardware and software. They should be working with you to streamline workflows, enhance business processes, develop policies and protocols, implement new technologies, and train your users.
When you do have an issue, whether it’s reported by you or detected by their monitoring tools, there should be an open line of communication from start to resolution. They may not always have good news, but they need to be communicating detection of an issue, confirmation of your request, estimated time to resolution, progress, changes in status, alternative solutions, resolutions, etc.
Is your vendor is always bringing new services or products to the table to add “value”? Is your vendor quick to recommend a new product or upgrade to resolve an issue?
First, a good MSP takes the time to learn about you and your business. They work with you to develop a solution tailored to your unique needs. Keep in mind… your MSP should be recommending new technology, upgrades, processes, etc. as your needs change, but they should be able to justify the costs with data from their reporting tools, increased efficiency, enhanced security, or long term savings.
Be wary of vendors that quickly recommend upgrades, new products, or services as solutions to an issue. A good MSP will take the time to troubleshoot issues and provide hard data to justify any recommendation to upgrade or purchase products and services.
Unexpected charges on your invoice
Are you getting invoices with unexpected charges? Do your invoices keep getting higher and higher? Many businesses partner with an MSP for consistent, predictable IT spending. In many cases, they find themselves getting higher than expected invoices or surprise charges.
Your MSP should be using data provided by their management tools and their experience to help you plan and budget for IT expenses. Sometimes the unexpected happens… when it does, your MSP should provide you prior notice of any additional expenses, provide detailed information on the invoice, and be able to justify the expense.
In some cases, you get unexpected charges because your expectation for what is covered in the agreement differs from what is actually covered. It is your MSP’s responsibility to make sure you understand the scope of the support agreement.
Are employees coming and going with your vendor? Every business has its share of employee turnover, but service delivery starts to suffer when there is high turnover. It can be difficult to find someone that has knowledge of and experience with your systems and you may find yourself in a frustrating situation telling the same story over and over. It may indicate that working conditions, policies, practices, and protocols are lacking with your vendor.
A good MSP has very little turnover. They adhere to good employment practices, treat their employees well, tend to have more experienced engineers, and are typically able provide a higher level of service. Don’t get me wrong… everyone has to start somewhere… it’s important provide less experienced techs the opportunity to get to know you and learn your systems, but you need to know there are seasoned engineers with an intimate knowledge of your systems watching out for your best interest.
Finger-Pointing and blaming your other services
Partnering with a managed services provider should give you a single point of contact to monitor and manage all or at least a big piece of your technology. You will still need an internet service provider, communications systems vendors, software vendors, etc. All of these pieces are intertwined and, inevitably, issues will come up. In most cases, the first person you call is your MSP, but many are quick to point their finger at one of your other services. A good MSP should have experience with and knowledge of your other services. Even if it’s not their fault, they should take ownership of these issues and reach out to the other providers to assist with the resolution.
Lack of Flexibility
Small / Medium sized businesses need to be agile and quickly adapt to changing market conditions. They experience unplanned growth and may even downsize unexpectedly. As a small/medium sized business, you need an MSP that is flexible enough to adapt to your changing needs. Many MSPs are rigid with their pricing and contract terms. Your MSP should be willing to work with you on pricing, changes in service needs, and contract terms as your needs change.