In a survey conducted by Salesforce, 83 percent of small businesses do not have IT staff. The number is high but not entirely surprising. Small and midsized businesses (SMBs) often operate on tight profit margins. Hiring an expensive technology expert to work in-house cuts into the bottom line. This leaves these organizations with two options: Try winging IT on their own or outsource to a third-party IT services provider.
Many SMBs try the DIY route, but this ultimately still costs them: in reduced productivity and expensive fixes when something goes wrong and they can’t fix it. Others wisely opt for a managed services provider (MSP), which usually costs less than in-house IT staff and can deliver more comprehensive support.
Los Angeles SMBs considering the MSP route understandably have many questions for the experts they might hire. They should be looking for certain things from an MSP and asking themselves if the provider will be the best choice for their organization. Here are three questions to ask yourself when considering Los Angeles IT services:
1. What kind of expertise does the MSP have?
This question may seem obvious on the surface, but no two Los Angeles IT services providers are alike. For starters, IT encompasses a wide range of technologies and disciplines, including cloud services, security, servers, virtualization, email, hardware, governance, and VoIP. The more expertise an MSP brings to the table, the more easily you will be able to scale your IT profile as your company’s needs change and as your business grows. Knowing which technologies you need help with—both now and in the future—will narrow down the list of MSPs to consider.
A provider’s experience, including how many years it has been in business and how many clients it has served, also should factor into your decision. Are you comfortable with a newer MSP that has a good track record with its clients? Or are you willing to pay more for an established MSP with dozens, even hundreds, of satisfied customers over the years? Cost doesn’t always translate into outstanding service, so carefully research the MSPs you are considering, talk to their other clients to learn more, and decide what factors are most important to you.
2. How will this MSP fit into my current company/team culture?
The experts an MSP provides won’t be temporary fixtures in your office. Los Angeles IT services aren’t like a plumber or a roofer who visits only to make a repair or an occasional upgrade—the consultants you select will be in your office whenever needed, and just a phone call or email away whenever you have a question or concern. Robust IT requires constant support, and that support is what you’ll get when hiring an MSP. Therefore, the people you contract must be able to mesh with the people on your team. If an MSP seems too formal for your laid-back environment or too casual for your buttoned-up office, the relationship might be strained from the start.
3. Is the MSP simply a “doer” or is it a strategic partner/consultant?
Before asking this question, ask another: Do you need a contractor or an ally? A contractor may get the job done but with a check-the-box attitude—hence, the idea that the MSP is just a “doer.” In fact, some MSPs with this approach may not have a reason to recommend the best courses of action because it could take away from future work. However, an MSP that is your strategic partner truly is an ally: Your success is its success, and vice versa. Such a consultant takes a 360-degree view of your IT, recommends the best solutions, will not think twice about helping you solve crises, and develops a long-term technology strategy for your organization. This partner is working for you, which, in the long run, frees up you and your staff to do what you do best—succeed in your core responsibilities that help the business thrive.
What do you think is the most important characteristic of an IT services provider?