Tuesday 13th October 2015
by Edel Creely

Edel Creely

How to find the right managed IT service provider

With IT becoming a more complex and an ever evolving industry many companies are turning to managed IT service providers to help achieve real value from their IT infrastructure.  How to find the right IT service provider is a challenging task that must be approached in the right way to achieve the best results for your company.

When selecting a managed IT provider, it’s important that you understand the typical characteristics that you should expect. You want to find the right partner that fits your business and is keen to work in partnership with you.

1.Helps you drive change and create a competitive advantage

A managed IT service provider should take a strategic approach to your IT infrastructure. In order to create a strategic plan both parties need to invest early on in the project and create IT solutions that deliver benefits. A key element in the early stages is carrying out an IT audit that uncovers how your current IT infrastructure is performing and how it can be improved.

A key way to help drive change is to create an IT roadmap. An IT roadmap helps both parties address the long term strategic priorities to help your IT environment become more successful and efficient. A proactive IT partner will actively manage your IT infrastructure and foresee future technology changes that would benefit your organisation.

Finding an IT partner that takes a proactive management approach and is keen to work in partnership is key to the overall success of the service delivered. A managed service provider should work closely with you to determine how you can work together to add value. The way your IT infrastructure is set up and performs is a key way that differentiates you from your competition. An IT provider should regularly review how you are currently performing and advice on how to create a competitive advantage.

Questions you should ask:

• Do you provide a flexible service that caters for current and future growth plans?
• How will you understand my business?
• How do you ensure a successful migration process?
• Do you have experience of working with organisations like ours?
• How customisable are the service plans?

2. Remote monitoring and management of your IT assets

A managed IT provider should have a network operations centre which will be equipped with the right tools and processes in place to detect problems and prevent them before they occur. Regular monitoring of your IT system and the use of monitored alerts means that 95% of issues can be fixed remotely. An IT provider should eliminate IT failures and provide an interruptible service. This is achieved by ensuring that your IT environment is healthy and running at peak performance.

The availability of your IT is critical to the success of your company so a managed IT provider should ensure that your systems and servers are running at peak performance. The provider should have a real time view of your entire IT environment and should be able to troubleshoot issues like bottle necks in the system and take appropriate action.
An IT provider should ensure that unplanned downtime is kept to a minimum. A good IT provider should ensure that all software and servers are up to date and that patching and updates are automatically scheduled without causing any impact on the availability of the network.

Questions you should ask:

• Will my network be monitored 24/7?
• Where will my data be located?
• How do you keep my data safe and secure?
• Can I access my data?
• What reporting information will you supply me with?
• Who has access to my data?
• How often are patches and updates carried out?

3. Reliable help desk

A key component of a managed IT service is a proficient and responsive help desk. When you encounter an issue you want to know that you have an expert on hand to act quickly and resolve the problem before it escalates. The support teams should have a detailed knowledge of your servers and hardware. They should have access to the asset management tools which provide them with an up to date picture of the current health of the system so they are able to respond to your query quickly. The support staff should be able to handle requests from inexperienced users through to resolving detailed technical support calls from IT staff.

IT support isn’t an off the shelf product. It should be tailored to your businesses requirements and allow you to scale your service up and down at any given time. The ability to seamlessly scale your requirements and business demands is a crucial element when choosing a managed IT provider. An IT partner must work as an extension of your IT department and support your internal or third party help desk.

Response times should be guaranteed and should be clearly stated within the Service Level Agreement. You need to be confident that the support provided is not only reliable and secure but has your best interests in mind.

Questions you should ask:

• Will I have a single point of contact?
• How do you record and track support calls?
• Are there any hidden support charges?
• Do you outsource any support services?
• How do you ensure that service is reliable?
• What are your customer satisfaction levels?
• What are your support hours?
• What is your team structure and staffing levels?
• What staff training plans do you have in place?

4. Reliable service underpinned by Service Level Agreements

Managed IT services should be delivered under a structured Service Level Agreement (SLA) so the provider is held accountable for the services they deliver. It’s important to understand what the provider defines a failure and what their response and resolve times are. Depending on your business and operations the conditions set within the SLAs should be suitable for your business and meet the conditions you set.

Regular reporting should be sent to you so you can see the status of your networks and check that the health of your infrastructure is how it should be. These reports should contain the overall health of your network, what work has been done, any updates or patches that have been carried out and any checks that have been conducted. These findings should be presented to you so you know exactly what has been done. You should also have access to an intuitive reporting portal that gives you real time information on your IT infrastructure.

An IT provider should conduct regular service reviews to discuss how the service is performing. It also provides an opportunity for the managed it provider to provide proactive advice and guidance to drive IT improvements.

Questions you should ask:

• Will my network be monitored 24/7?
• What reports will you supply me with and when?

5. Predictable costs

A managed it provider should provide you with predictable and clear pricing structures that detail exactly what services you are paying for. There should be no guess work when it comes to paying for your service. A defined roadmap should be in place so you can predict what work needs doing and how much it is going to cost.

Questions you should ask:

• What is included in your service charges?
• Is there an additional charge if my usage increases?


Managed IT as a Service quote from Edel Creely

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