How to Rate Your IT Managed Service Provider [VIDEO]

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Students shouldn’t be the only ones nervous about report cards. With IT becoming such an integral part of the DNA of every organization, isn’t it time to evaluate your MSP (managed service provider) too? I regularly meet with senior business and non-profit leaders to learn about their IT challenges, first-hand and share best practices from the hundreds of clients our company has worked with over the years.


Organizations that handle their IT in-house face unique challenges that I discussed in my last blog, but what if you already outsource some or all of your IT services to a managed services provider? Which criteria should you use to evaluate your MSP?

Here are just six important categories that you should be aware of (there are more but let’s see how your MSP does on these first!):

One - how frequently do they audit your IT and is there any follow-up?

Most MSPs (at least the good ones) will conduct an audit when they first begin their engagement. They will review your entire IT from your infrastructure to your computers and everything in between. It’s usually accompanied by much fanfare and razzmatazz.

Usually, the most junior staffer from the MSP has to race to a print shop to get the audit bound and if you are lucky you might even get a plastic cover. But what happens after that first report? Will their next audit occur only when it’s time to renew the contract?

The truth about IT audits

The truth is that unless audits are baked into the MSP’s routine business process, it will be like the mascot at a baseball game; nice to see but they have little to do with the team’s chances of winning the world series.

As an aside, since I was a Captain Crunch mascot at a Chicago Bulls basketball game once, I have credibility on all things mascot.

The adage that the best time to repair a roof is when it’s sunny applies with full force here. Only continuous auditing can help you pre-emptively address issues before they become a crisis. But doing an audit is like a physical exam your doctor gives—if you do it once a year and then go back to eating junk food and binge-watching Breaking Bad every night you are not likely to be healthy.

You need to carry out your MSP's recommendations or the audits are essentially useless. Some suggestions may not meet your company’s goals and ROI and that’s okay, but ignoring most or all of them defeats the point of the audits.

Two - IT metrics and measuring KPIs

I have met too many executives who have blank or embarrassed looks when I ask about how they measure progress. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

A good MSP will catalog best practices and constantly update them as things change in the IT landscape. Think for a second about how much life has changed in the last year due to the pandemic.

  • Has your MSP refocused its KPIs accordingly?
  • Does it share with you those metrics regularly and in real-time? Why not?

Three - alignment of IT and business goals

True partnerships work when organizations share similar goals. Does your MSP make more money the more tickets they have to resolve? That’s not a good idea, is it?

Shouldn’t they be proactively understanding root causes and addressing them so they make more money when you have fewer problems?

Four - proactive IT security

Did you know that the average ransom fee hackers demand rose from $5,000 in 2018 to $200,000 in 2020 (National Security Institute 2021)?

Of course, no one can guarantee 100% safety but if your MSP is not proactively thinking about security it’s not doing its job.

  • What actions does your MSP take?
  • How do they stay safe themselves?
  • Are they on top of the latest tricks that cyberhackers are dreaming up?

Five - long-term IT contracts?

If your MSP has locked you into a long-term contract the question you should be asking is why. If a relationship is mutually productive, why should there be negative repercussions and large financial costs for breaking it up?

Shouldn’t you be so happy and be able to quantify the value of your MSP without fearing a punitive termination clause?

Six - strategic technology input

If your MSP feels that resolving help desk tickets is their primary focus how will you ever develop a long-term IT strategy with them?

The more enlightened MSPs understand that assigning an expert vCIO is the secret sauce that keeps clients happy. Someone who can work with your senior leadership to roadmap out a long-term IT plan so you are not jumping from one fire to the next, and you’re making IT costs predictable.

Make sure you’re partnering with a team that helps you focus your time on the things that really matter in growing your organization.

Rating your managed service provider

Well, how did your MSP do? If they scored poorly in any one of these six criteria, it may be a good time to get a free consultation with MainSpring to learn how we help our clients every day improve productivity and reduce costs.

If your MSP scores well, congrats but make sure you keep evaluating them frequently because the IT landscape frequently changes. Please feel free to reach out to me set up a quick zoom to review how MainSpring can help.

Schedule your consultation today!