Like a large number of organisations, we are an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP). However, experience has taught our clients (sometimes the hard way) that the term MSP is ambiguous; what an MSP does means different things to different companies.
Our definition of Managed Service Provider is that we take ownership of and responsibility for your IT function and we are proactive in making sure it is as effective as possible. For us, this is a fundamental part of any of the services we offer. For our full service clients we operate as a virtual CIO or virtual IT Director. This means we treat IT as one part of the overall business strategy, staying in regular contact with the Board in order to give the best advice about what to do, as well as the level of investment that is needed to make your firm more efficient and more profitable.
More than just a reactive helpdesk
We are often approached by organisations that have become unhappy with their IT MSP because it has turned out to be little more than a reactive helpdesk that fixes problems as and when they occur, with no regard to how each function works with the system holistically. One example of this is a firm that came to us after an incident when the internet went down. Their then outsourced MSP informed them that the problem wouldn’t have occurred if they had installed a backup line; as that MSP had been paid to provide its expertise, it should have informed the firm about the need for a backup line in order to protect the business from this problem occurring. In our view, this was a failure on the part of the MSP.
With another new client, we discovered that all employee accounts were active at all times, even for employees who had left years ago – this posed an enormous risk to the company’s data. The MSP had told the client the reason they hadn’t deactivated any accounts was because no one told them to. We have now put proactive measures in place to ensure we are informed as soon as a staff member leaves the company so we can deactivate their account straight away – with extra measures to help us detect unused accounts in the event that notification slips through the net. Our priority is to protect our clients, so it is therefore our responsibility to work proactively on their behalf, giving them the advice and support they need in order to prevent problems as well as fix them.
How to be certain what your MSP is offering
Because there is no cohesive definition of what a managed service provider actually provides, you must take each company on a case-by-case basis. Ask them to break down exactly what is being offered in each package in order to find out how proactive the MSP is going to be. Always beware if there are large disparities in the quotes you receive – question why – if one is a lot lower than the rest, it is likely that that particular MSP is offering a very different level of service to the others.