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Choosing a Managed Service Provider (MSP) with Confidence

As cloud adoption increases, organisations are quickly realising the complexities of migrating, monitoring and managing their infrastructures and hybrid-environments. Due to this enterprises and SMBs across the globe are now realising the value of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offer. But with an abundance of MSP offerings out there, how can you make the decision confidently?

Shaping Cloud have taken the time to pull together six key areas we believe organisations should consider when shortlisting (and choosing) the best suited Managed Service Provider (MSP).

Organisations are struggling with skills and expertise, security, and costs 

Despite establishing internal teams, reports indicate that organisations across the globe are struggling with the skills, resources, and technical expertise required to conduct their digital strategies effectively and securely.

Cloud adoption without the skills and expertise not only leaves organisations vulnerable, but without IT-workload optimisation, organisations can expect wasted money and overshot budgets, as well as missed opportunities for improved performance. 

Technology is ever evolving (and so is expertise) 

The breadth of skills and expertise required to successfully manage and optimise cloud-native infrastructures, applications, and hybrid environments is ever-evolving. 

In fact, a crucial part of maintaining these complex technologies is keeping up to date with not only the fast-moving technological landscape but in many other areas such as the evolving requirements for any certifications you may hold like cyber essentials or ISO 27001. Ensuring your IT evolves and aligns to your business strategy and business compliance is key for any business.  

As a result of its complexities, many organisations are now looking to outsource this management and opting for Managed Service Providers (MSP).  

In house vs. outsourced Managed Service Provider (MSP) services 

Taking the in-house approach can certainly help with maintaining the IT infrastructure, but it comes with its own hefty expenses on time, money, and resources. 

By outsourcing to third party Managed Service Providers, organisations can be alleviated of these concerns, receiving technological expertise, optimised processes, and innovative solutions.  

How to choose your Managed Service Provider (MSP) with confidence 

To begin your search, you need to understand what your organisation finds important, or better yet, needs. From our personal experience with customers, we have identified the following:  

Ensured resilience and continuity of service 

Whilst having services in public cloud is good for example, have you done everything and considered everything to ensure it is secure, stable and you are getting the most out of your investment?  

Customer service and experience not just on day one but throughout 

All new MSPs seem like a dream on day 1 but things can evaporate quickly if they do not take communication or their customers seriously. Ensuring your end users do not feel like pawns or passed from pillar to post is key.  

Genuine resolutions to issues, not plasters 

Strong knowledge in the technology area will be needed by the MSP. This will help in problem management but also ensure the customer feels valued and heard.  

Technical direction 

Having the ability to guide companies on where to take their IT next and how to get there is key. Ensuing the customer is always moving forward. 

Six areas to consider when choosing a Managed Service Provider (MSP)

By understanding the foundation of what you are looking for and need, you can confidently move on to seeking the best-suited MSP for your organisation. Again, taken from our work with clients, we believe organisations should consider the following six areas: 

  1. Support offering 
  2. Technical expertise 
  3. Services scope 
  4. Alignment 
  5. Flexibility 
  6. Innovation 

Support offering (first, second- and third-line support) 

Before you begin shortlisting Managed Service Providers (MSPs) you must start with the type of support you need: 1st line support, 2nd line support or 3rd line support.  

It can get quite technical, but we will keep it simple. 

To understand your requirements, you first need to evaluate what you currently have in-house. You could even do a survey internally to understand the feelings on the level of IT support your company currently receive. You should also consider what your future strategic direction will be not only for technology but for the whole business so you can ensure your IT is always enabling your organisational goals. 

You may be pleased with your first- and second line support but having the skills and expertise to carry out digital transformations and modernisations is where additional support may be required especially in the public cloud with the vast continual improvements. 

When you think of first line support, think of your organisation’s general help desk. The first port of call when an issue arises. These are the individuals that know and understand the organisation and the customer and can offer simple solutions. But do not possess the technical knowledge. 

With second line support, think of your IT team(s). Second-line support is the individuals who have advanced technical understandings but are not “experts” in the field. Oftentimes, they do not hold the latest understandings of technical developments as they are expected to support the full breadth of services you have.  

When you think of third line support, think of it as the foundation of your digital technologies. Your third line support are the architects, experts, the ones who understand the problem to not only diagnose but provide the solution. The team that should always look to proactively improve your solutions and be innovating for success.  

Technical expertise (something only Managed Service Partners offer)

When we discuss technical expertise, we refer to the Managed Service Providers (MSPs) breadth and depth of technical skills to manage your technology, as well as their partner accreditations, and industry qualifications and standards. 

Look closely at the MSPs you are considering. What technical skills do they possess and what offerings do they provide? Here is where you will begin to pick out the MSPs best suited for what you need. 

Some MSPs may promote private and public cloud offerings and claim to be agnostic. However, if they have a private cloud, they will still need to get the financial benefits out of their private cloud and will feel pressure to do so. This means they will not truly be agnostic and will make weight behind their private cloud instead meaning you will often be pushed to their on-premises DC (Data Centres) rather than the vast technical benefits of the public cloud.  

Another point to consider is their wide breadth and depth of technical skills in both the public and private cloud, and whilst this may initially be attractive to organisations with hybrid environments, the reality is the MSP IT team will be drastically stretched and will not have the knowledge to make the best public cloud recommendations. 

This can, in turn, impact the quality of service(s) your organisation will then receive and drastically impact the quality of your services and consequently your reputation… and no one wants that.  

If you are seeking a strategy that pushes you to the public cloud and you are unsure how to get there, even if you have a hybrid setup, look to an MSP who is public cloud only and they will help you achieve your strategy and partner with you along the way.  

Sometimes less is more, and regarding Managed Service Providers (MSPs), that is true. Seek an MSP that is not the ‘jack of all trades’ but a master at what they do. In doing so, you can reap the true benefits of a dedicated and skilled MSP. Our advice: focus on the public cloud MSPs for your public cloud concerns.  

Competencies (otherwise known as certifications) provide you with the assurance that you are working with skilled, trusted, and expert professionals who know exactly what they are doing. These may sometimes not be advertised across their platforms, so it is worth contacting for more detail.  

Partner accreditations will provide you with the MSPs’ depth of knowledge in specific areas. You can not only see the level of accreditation but also how long they have been accredited with their specific vendor.  

As your look for the most appropriate MSP, you should expect no less than industry qualifications and high-quality standards. If you do plan to outsource one of the most crucial elements of your business, you will need to ensure you have done all your due diligence to get the best fitting MSP for your company.  

Service scope of Managed Services

Managed Service Providers (MSP) can offer several services, but it is important that you understand what you need. A trusting and reliable MSP acknowledges that each enterprise has unique IT requirements. A good MSP will work with you to determine what services you require, ensuring that you do not pay for services you do not require, and will not use (Cost optimisation). 

Common technologies that MSPs covers include: 

  1. Security 
  2. Infrastructure (Cloud / Hybrid)
  3. Identity 
  4. Modern work (with Microsoft 365, including endpoint management, teams, SharePoint and OneDrive)
  5. Network and Telephony 
  6. Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI)  

Finding an MSP that can successfully manage these elements of your organisation is great, but services should not stop there. Seek an MSP that is invested in supporting your organisation and helping you excel.  

In addition to the above, you should also look for an MSP that provides: 

  1. Training, or actively transfers their knowledge and expertise   
  2. On-call help desk support 
  3. Virtual CIO (Chief Information Officer) services

Working in partnership with you to truly get the best out of the services they offer.

You want to find an MSP that acts as your partner and sees you as an extension of their own business and services. You want an MSP that ensures your technology not only works effectively but is secure and up to date with the latest, more innovative developments.  

Your MSP should align with your business value

When choosing your Managed Service Provider (MSP) we believe it is paramount to ensure that you partner with an organisation whose values, code of conduct, best practices, and level(s) of professionalism align with your own.  

Seek the MSP that spends time getting to know your organisation, as well as the stakeholders involved in the process. This will allow for the most effective managed services solution to be developed.  

Managed Service Providers should be flexible

When choosing your desired MSP, opt for one that will not only tailor to your business but can scale your organisation’s evolving needs (all without penalties for needing to do so).  

We believe that flexibility is a crucial element to consider when opting for the most reliable Managed Service Provider (MSP). Organisations needs change constantly, and it is only fair that flexibility of service charges is an option.  

A valuable and trustworthy MSP will firstly work with you to understand your organisation and what you shall require. Once determined, your MSP should offer a customised package at a fixed monthly rate based on your financial abilities and budget. Your MSP should also discuss their innovative flexibility options to cater to fluctuating demands of their MSP services. 

Bonus for any MSPs that offer pro-rated benefits or allow unused hours to be carried over (yes, those businesses exist).  

Your MSP must be innovative

Most importantly (and from what the global COVID-19 pandemic has taught us) we believe you should acquire an MSP that is flexible, able, and agile. Your MSP must be able to respond to the changing market, needs and conditions effectively and efficiently, whilst always ensuring security to your organisation. 

An MSP that utilises best practises, and the latest technologies to add continued value to your organisation. By choosing an MSP that stays “on top,” your organisation can rest assure that the most advanced options in IT are being used, keeping your organisation relevant, functional, and modern giving your business an edge over its competition. 

We believe that your Managed Service Provider (MSP) should be more than just a standard reactive IT service. Whilst they should certainly help with the day-to-day business requirements to operate efficiently and securely, your chosen MSP should work in partnership with you, helping you deliver your goals as well as with modernisation and innovation.  

Look towards your Managed Service Provider (MSP) as the fundamental foundation of your business. They will be an element that will not only cut organisational costs but help drive your organisation’s growth and streamline your digital operations.  

Deciding upon your MSP should not be taken lightly… Conduct extensive research. 

Ensure your chosen MSP can deliver, provide, and initiate successful, transformational, and innovative solutions; to not only maintain, but grow your IT infrastructure securely. 

With Shaping Cloud’s Managed Services, you will be in expert hands. 

Why choose Shaping Cloud’s Managed Services?  

Shaping Cloud was born in the hyperscale cloud in 2010 and has been continuously building on its expertise since. With a vast variety of both company and team competencies (including Microsoft Partnerships at Gold level), Shaping Cloud is well equipped beyond Managed Services. 

To date, Shaping Cloud holds accredited specialisms in Application Development, Application Integration, Cloud Platform, Cloud Productivity (incl. modern desktop) , Datacenter, DevOps, and Security. 

Shaping Cloud is made up of expert DevOps Engineers, Azure Solutions Architects, Azure DevOps Engineers, Azure Security Engineers, Azure Administrators, and Azure Developer Associates; as well as expertise with VMWare / Citrix / Cisco / PRINCE 2 / Agile / ITIL – all with a dose of real-world operational experience.  

With our third line Managed Service expertise, we’re set to become an extension of your IT team. This enables your IT team to focus on what they do best, looking after their customers (your users) and enables us to focus on the technology. 

Shaping Cloud offers a true partnership, providing the skills you do not have in-house. Shaping Cloud is always leaning forward and keeping up the momentum, rather than holding you back unlike a traditional MSP. 

By choosing us as your Managed Service Partner (not just Provider) your organisation is presented with the opportunity to focus solely on your core business, your products, and services, and most importantly, your growth. Whilst we do what we do best in the background. 

End your Managed Service Provider search today and book in a meeting directly. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Shaping Cloud.

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