By tapping into the technical prowess of a Managed Services Provider (MSP), your IT staff can shift its focus to work that moves your organization forward. Because an MSP will keep your network running safely and reliably, your IT staff will have the wherewithall to ensure your association uses technology more effectively.
Follow these seven steps to ensure a successful partnership with your MSP.
#1 Identify your specific requirements for an MSP.
Before you begin your search for an MSP, you must clearly define what you need from one. Whether or not you’re doing an RFP, you need to first outline your systems and requirements, for example, end user support, server support, and the number of users to be supported.
These requirements set the stage for mutual understanding and minimize the risk of miscommunication.
#2 As with all major buying decisions, do your due diligence before hiring an MSP.
When you get down to your final candidates for your Managed Services Provider, do your research and get references you can trust. Have they worked with an organization like yours? Will they truly understand your organization’s business model, culture, processes, and needs?
Make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples.” It’s hard to make an informed choice if you’re comparing two different support models. Engage the MSP to help you define their models, and how each would meet the needs outlined in your RFP.
#3 Establish division of duties and mutual expectations between you and your MSP.
Identify exactly what you’re outsourcing to your IT partner so there’s no confusion about who does what. Don’t assume the MSP will take over every responsibility your current IT team handles. For example, who will be responsible for application support, mobile device management, web development, and database administration?
#4 Identify a primary point of contact within your organization to work with your MSP.
Someone at the director level or above in your IT department should be the primary point of contact with your MSP. If that IT position doesn’t exist, someone at the executive level should be the primary point of contact. Technology is a critical strategic asset, so this relationship must be given attention at the appropriate level.
#5 Encourage staff to embrace your new MSP.
During the MSP onboarding or transition period, your executive team must discuss the new IT relationship with staff:
- Why did you make this switch?
- How will it benefit the association?
- What value does the MSP bring to your team?
- What’s different now?
- How will staff get the support they need?
Establish expectations for how your on-site MSP consultant will be treated. Some organizations treat them as part of the staff, but others only look to them in times of need. Provide an easy method for staff to provide feedback about the relationship to your organization’s primary point of contact.
#6 Build lasting trust between your organization and your MSP.
Your MSP is not merely a contractor or vendor—they’re your IT partner—one that now has access to and control of your systems and data. It’s not uncommon for some internal staff to have issues with that loss of control. Your MSP’s team, having made this transition with other clients, will be sensitive to these feelings—they know they have to earn your staff’s trust.
You can lay the groundwork for mutual trust during the transition period. Ask staff to share all necessary institutional knowledge, especially about problem areas. Encourage staff to be open to feedback and advice from their new IT partners. Underscore the fact that the MSP is there to help your team more effectively use IT to get their work done.
#7 Communicate frequently with your MSP.
Trust grows when people communicate. Keep the lines of communication open between your organization (particularly your point of contact) and your MSP. For example, in addition to regularly scheduled meetings, DelCor’s Partner clients enjoy an open door policy with our leadership.
During meetings with your MSP, discuss existing and future support needs, organizational initiatives, and any concerns related to technology. You should never feel like you’re being kept in the dark by your MSP. Ask for explanations if you don’t understand something. And always feel comfortable bringing up areas of concern.
An MSP should take a consultative approach to client service. They should be invested in your mission and goals so they can do their part in helping you achieve them.
Before you work on your RFP for Managed Service Providers, download our report, Requirements Analysis: The Secret to Sanity, to learn how to develop and document your requirements.