From The Expert Feature Article
April 11, 2016

How to Select the Right MSP Partner

By Special Guest
Paul Jespersen, Vice President of Enterprise Business Development & Emerging Products at Comodo

The MSP space is a crowded field and will almost certainly get more crowded.  With so many providers to choose from, companies often have a particular list of priorities when selecting an MSP, but many times they do not and it is up to the MSP to correctly address and market their solutions to the enterprise.  

It is important for any MSP to function as an extension of their business. The whole point is to provide expertise and functionality making things easier for the business to focus on their core objectives. So how can a company select the right MSP partner?

When an enterprise (or organization), large or small, sets out to choose a managed service provider (MSP), there are a multitude of factors to be considered. It might be useful to have a checklist, especially for the uninitiated. Even the most tech savvy seeker might need to sit back and consider several possibilities before jumping into the selection process.

The enterprise, whether a small business, non-profit organization, or large global firm, needs to put in some serious research before signing on with a provider. Preparation is key. Oftentimes, the larger businesses and organizations have an internal IT department, or at least a dedicated IT professional. However, smaller enterprises typically do not, and they are the ones most in need of guidance in linking with an MSP that can best serve them.

Initially, an organization needs to outline a plan of action, as well as a business plan. What do you need the MSP to do for you? To begin the search, you need to find a match in scope and geography, meaning that they understand the area of business, the customer/client area.

Secondly, an MSP partner should never be a constraint to customers' success due to poor technology. Leveraging the right technology platforms can make the difference in an MSP efficiently delivering first rate services to the customer, relieving that stress point faced by many growing businesses. This is where the business plan comes into play. Future plans for your organization are extremely important. What growth are you expecting? Are there changes imminent, or even down the road, in the scope of your enterprise? Are you considering at some point an alternative product or service line than what you currently offer?

So this is a function of communication and initiative, how much time and effort your chosen MSP is willing to dedicate to providing you with their service. But how can you be sure you will receive the attention to your enterprise’s goals that is imperative for you to move forward?

Reputation and reviews of the MSP are key. Any candidate considered should be able to provide references, and some homework on your part in checking reviews is time well spent.

MSPs must prove their security solutions and protocols, benchmarking, and remote solutions are up to date and are backed by thoughtful plans for dealing with potential situations, both planned and unplanned.

In the selection process, one method is to tell the prospective provider what your specific problems/needs are and see how they would solve them, instead of merely listening to their sales pitch.

They should exhibit an understanding of your industry and your needs based on the nature of your industry.

Another major factor is who is monitoring and maintaining your network. Is there someone available should you have questions, or should your needs change?

Availability is vital. Even the smallest business setting up an MSP should not settle for a firm that offers less than 24/7 service. There should always be a professional available to assist you with your concerns and problems.

But this aspect of communication is only part of the equation. Whether it is face-to-face or remote communication, regular contact is imperative to ensure the services you are receiving match the growing and/or changing needs of your business. If a potential MSP is not able to accommodate your schedule to touch base on a consistent basis, this is probably not the right MSP for you. MSPs can be a great enabler for modern enterprises, but only when the MSP and the enterprise are well matched and aligned. Understand first what you are looking for, because you want to avoid the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.

The ideal is to have a plan with an MSP that lets you focus on your core business, to have minimal energy spent on worrying about your system. You need to have contact when necessary, but also beyond that, you should have the peace of mind knowing that everything is taken care of.

Paul Jespersen brings more than 20 years of experience in the cybersecurity and computer networking industries to Comodo, where he is responsible for global partnership and OEM relationships for all enterprise security solutions, as well as the market introduction and development for the many new security products being developed by Comodo’s product and development teams. Paul earned his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin.  Contact Paul at [email protected]

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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