Do you call your managed IT services company for help and leave more frustrated than you were before the conversation? Or are you in the market for a new provider and aren’t sure what to look for? It would help to know exactly what you need in a new managed IT services company to ensure your business is protected, efficient and taken care of! We put together a list of the 5 things you should consider if you’re on the hunt for a new partnership.

1. How do They Handle Evaluations?

A free evaluation sounds pretty nice to some businesses. It’s always good to save money, right? Not always. When it comes to managed IT services, “free” may not be the best option. In fact, you could be paying much more in the long run.

Free evaluations cause an IT company to name “problems” – issues with your IT that are not actual problems, but rather services they want to offer you instead. With a paid evaluation, however, the provider can come in, properly audit your current IT approach, services and management, and be more honest with you. They’re not necessarily trying to make a sale. You paid for a service and they’re going to approach it in a more trustworthy way.

2. Are They Proactive or Reactive?

Reacting after the fact to IT issues can very well leave your business scrambling and unable to work.

First, let’s talk about monitoring. Some managed IT services companies will offer you a low, fixed rate for monitoring, with an hourly rate attached for any problems that need fixing. This reactive approach incentivizes the company to not be proactive, but rather reactive because they will get more money if they solve a problem after the fact. A proactive approach, though, means that the MSP is solving issues before they become an actual problem, saving you money.

We also recommend asking your potential MSP leading questions. This will help you determine if they are being incentivized to be reactive. Flat-rate agreements lead to a more proactive approach as they’ll tackle tickets without an attached hourly rate. If you’re having to constantly ask for jobs to be completed, it may be time to go with another solution.

Proactive IT Leads to Improved Efficiency

One example of a proactive approach to managed IT services is how we migrated all of our clients from Rackspace to Microsoft 365 before the Rackspace breach at the end of 2022. In regular evaluations of risk for our managed clients, our CIO felt there was too much exposure leaving email accounts at Rackspace. We moved our clients’ email systems to Microsoft 365 which while a bit more expensive in the short run, the migration saved them from a lot of headaches when the disaster struck Rackspace!

3. Do They Follow What They Preach?

Managed IT services providers require a list of tasks that you and your employees need to follow to stay secure and productive – are they following their own advice?

For example, all businesses should have a Security Operation Center (SOC) to improve prevention and detection of cyberattacks. But does your MSP have one? Are they following compliance requirements? If not, they could very well be putting your security at risk.

It’s also recommended that businesses – especially those that rely heavily on the internet – have multiple internet connections. Does your MSP follow that rule, too? If their only internet goes down, you could just be out of luck for that day’s support (or more)!

4. What is Their Approach to Backups?

Businesses in the market for a new managed IT services provider should also consider their approach to backups. The cloud is essential these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t (and shouldn’t) rely solely on it. If something happens to your critical business operations, it can be days before that 1TB of data you need is restored to your company!

That’s why we recommend a two-fold approach. In-office hardware and replication to the cloud offer you options when it comes to backups and ensures you can keep on working even in the face of unique disasters. In-office hardware also allows for a temporary server in the event of hardware failure of production devices.

A Breach in the Cloud

The cloud is a secure option, but that doesn’t mean that attacks don’t happen. In fact, Microsoft doesn’t even guarantee that you will be able to recover critical data in the event of an emergency – they fully recommend having other backups. One scenario we’ve personally seen was a breach recovery. A hacker had been in the company’s cloud for six months! With administrator credentials. During that time, they had infected, corrupted and destroyed the company’s Great Plains accounting server in the cloud – it was unrecoverable because it was backing up to the same cloud as the server. And Office 365 SharePoint site or mailbox should also be backed up outside of Microsoft in case your own credentials allow an attacker to delete your data.

5. Do They Offer the Managed IT Services You Need?

Perhaps the most obvious – but easily forgotten criteria – you want to be sure the MSP offers the services your company needs to operate! Do they have the equipment on hand? Do they offer solutions that will help you meet compliance? Or, do they offer the products that will ensure you meet the needs of your customers? You don’t want to hire a new MSP only to find they don’t offer the services you require.

Shopping for an MSP should be like shopping for a new car mechanic. You want to be sure they’re knowledgeable and experienced, but also not looking to tack on expenses. By taking a proactive approach to your search, you can be sure you’re finding a proactive managed IT services provider in Nashville that can handle your needs.

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