Perhaps technology is the most indispensible aspect for today’s businesses. Right from big corporations to small businesses, everyone is turning to technology to streamline their core operations. Think about ERP, CRM, or HR administration and tell me how many businesses don’t use them. I believe you can count them on your fingers. However, factors like the increasing cost of hardware and software are making things difficult for businesses wanting to capitalize on available technology.
But, that’s not all. Last year, Tech America Foundation released their technology employment data which highlighted an underlying concern pointed out by Matthew Kazmierczak, vice president of research and reports for the TechAmerica Foundation: “we are concerned that the rate of growth in the technology industry is lagging behind that of the overall private sector. Too often we hear from technology hiring managers and executives about the difficulty in finding qualified and eligible workers. This is particularly troubling for an industry that is at the center of the innovation economy.”
Now, if the tech sector is having a tough time finding qualified tech talents to hire, you can imagine how increasingly difficult it is for businesses to find the right tech resources when technology isn’t their primary business, yet is an inseparable part of their business. This is where the MSP emerges as the most viable solution.
What are MSPs?
MSPs or managed services providers are third-party contractors that deliver and manage the network-based services, applications, and equipment for businesses or enterprises. MSPs are outsourcing agents that take the headache out of tech maintenance. Not only this, MSPs eliminate the need for non-IT businesses to go through the ordeal of hiring and training IT staff. For businesses that don’t have technology as their primary service, this is nothing short of an ideal settlement.
When MSPs become business partners
Once you’ve found the MSP that has worked great for your business, you might be tempted to start thinking long-term. And, why wouldn’t you? Your tech requirements are sorted out and you can remain more focused on your key business processes. In fact, a service level agreement (SLA) with your MSP can impact your bottom line significantly and that is a kind of partnership. But before you jump into believing that it’s a match made in heaven, here are three questions that you should ask:
Do your strategies align?
If you are not from the tech industry, your business goals are most likely very different from those of your MSP. It’s a given. But, your MSP should understand the nature of your business and should suggest strategies not just for your technology requirements, but for the greater good of your organization. Ideally, your MSP should have in mind a greater picture as to where your organization could be headed, armed by their resources.
Do they offer services specific to your needs?
A vendor will want to sell their products but a true partner will respond to your specific needs. Not only this, the right MSP will offer preventive maintenance to avert problems much before they occur – just like they would do if it were their own company.
Do they offer optimum level of support?
The right MSP will provide high level of tech support at all circumstances so that you are free to carry out your core business processes efficiently. Your ideal tech partner identifies the key challenging areas and works towards mitigating them effectively.
If you get positive answers as a result of asking these questions, congratulations to you – you’ve met your MSP-turned-business partner.
Does your MSP show the signs of becoming a business partner in future?
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
Image: creative commons