Outsourcing IT to a Managed Services Provider (MSP)

Brian Sheehan | 05.24.21
Topics: Outsourced IT - Technical Questions

How is your organization dealing with the rapid pace of technological change? It’s not easy. Many associations and nonprofits can only manage to keep up by working with a Managed Services Provider (MSP). The MSP monitors and manages their IT infrastructure, hardware, software, and networks—leaving time for the organization’s IT team to focus on more strategic projects.


How does an MSP help associations and nonprofits?

When organizations lack sufficient IT staff, or rather have their staff focus on more mission-critical initiatives, they turn to MSPs. An MSP acts as an outsourced IT department. MSPs like DelCor help associations and nonprofits prevent IT crises, reduce costs, and improve operational and technological performance.

An MSP delivers a multi-layered approach to IT. We serve as the traditional Information Technology Service Desk (ITSD) for desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, and peripheral issues. We also manage the back-office infrastructure, including the network, security, servers, patches, data backup, recovery, and connectivity.

Selecting a Managed Service Provider

We’ve been providing managed services to clients for decades, so we have some opinions about the qualities you should seek in an MSP.


What should you look for in an MSP?

Association experience. Your MSP should ‘get’ you and your world. Narrow your MSP search to established firms that have deep experience in the association or nonprofit industry. You want your MSP to be familiar with the vendors and systems used by associations and nonprofits. For example, your MSP should have a good understanding of the different systems used to manage member data and run your annual meeting.

Advanced skills. Look for a company with skills in change management, integration, security, virtualization, and cloud technologies to help you make the most of your technology—now and in the future.

Accessibility. Your MSP’s network operations center should be in the U.S. and staffed to meet your needs.

Strategic and proactive. MSPs shouldn’t only be concerned with your operational needs. There’s a strong strategic component to what your team does, and that should carry over to your MSP. They should be more than a ‘utility.’ Your MSP must be both operationally and strategically proactive, and focused on preventing problems, not just fixing them.

Dedicated consultant. This type of strategic approach requires a dedicated consultant focused on your organization. Dedicated consultants get to know your organization. They understand your strategic direction and goals. Because they have ‘ears to the ground,’ they become familiar with daily operations and unique staff challenges.

Trusted advisor. A dedicated consultant also helps with technology planning and budgeting, bringing you the best solutions based on deep knowledge of the marketplace and what will work for your needs and budget. An MSP consultant can also help you make the case to your board for investing in technology that helps you achieve your mission, vision, and goals. At DelCor, we’re always available for board education.

Up to the challenge. Ask prospective MSPs about the most difficult issues they’ve faced with association clients, and how they dealt with those issues. Find out how they handle crises such as having to go fully remote in days i.e. pandemic, data breach, or loss of data. Ask them about the proactive steps they take as part of their services.

Reputation. Get several association references and ask them questions such as:

  • How long have you been with the MSP?
  • How is their support and responsiveness?
  • How do they react when there’s an emergency?
  • How do they proactively help you?
  • How are they with your board?

Relationship. Ideally, you’ll have a long-term relationship with your MSP. However, at the beginning, a one-year contract is fine. You need time to see how the relationship works. You don’t want a contract that leaves you stuck for three years in a bad relationship. Make sure the contract (or service level agreement) is performance-based.

Remember, an MSP is not just another utility.

Look for a partner, not merely a service provider. Choose the MSP who best meets the qualifications outlined above so your organization can better anticipate and adapt to rapid technological change.

Related Podcast: The Successful MSP-Association Relationship

IT Maturity Model for Associations and Nonprofits  Learn how to effectively connect technology, people, and processes to your  mission Download IT Maturity Model

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