New year, new MSP: Finding the right IT partner in 2021

New Year, New MSP

The year 2020 has been particularly tough for Australian businesses. It started with devastating bushfires that threatened business continuity. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic came into the picture, forcing organisations to implement rushed remote work strategies to remain operational during nationwide lockdowns.

Remote work also brought unique IT challenges, especially with regard to productivity and cybersecurity. Video communication app Zoom, in particular, had several security issues that hindered communications for distributed workforces. On top of all this, businesses across different industries reported data breaches resulting from human error, phishing scams, ransomware, and more

If you think your business had it bad this year due to these problems, just think of the new challenges 2021 will bring. That’s why you must work with a reliable managed IT services provider (MSP). MSPs serve as an extension of your business, optimising your systems, and developing IT strategies that adapt to your changing needs. Plus, their services are available at merely a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time IT department. However, not all MSPs are the same, and there are a few crucial factors to consider when choosing the right one.

Fully outsourced vs. co-managed IT service model

The first decision you have to make is whether to opt for a fully outsourced or co-managed IT service. 

Generally, the former is ideal if you don’t have an internal IT department and lack the necessary budget to address complex technical issues. A fully outsourced MSP handles everything related to your IT infrastructure and implements comprehensive solutions so you can focus on running your business. You can expect them to provide proactive tech support, end-to-end system maintenance, optimisation services, strategic IT consulting, and much more. 

On the other hand, if you already have an IT department, MSPs with a co-managed IT service model may be a better fit. These service providers share the responsibility of looking after your systems and fill the gaps in expertise. For instance, you can have a co-managed IT service where the MSP handles cloud management, system administration, and cybersecurity. Meanwhile, your internal team is freed up to focus on mission-critical and more strategic projects.  

What’s great about a co-managed option is that you get to maintain your preferred level of control over your infrastructure. Plus, a co-managed IT team can fill any hourly shifts to cover for any internal staff taking sick days or vacations.

Services offered

The IT services and solutions your company needs largely determine the type of MSP you partner with. Every business should have some form of IT support and a dedicated person proactively maintaining company systems. However, your organisation may require more specialised services like cloud computing, business phone systems, strategic planning, and cybersecurity. In any case, it’s important to have a comprehensive discussion with your company about what your company needs in terms of IT.

What’s more, any trustworthy MSP should have service level agreements. These are contracts that define the standards you can expect from the MSP, such as fast response times and same-day ticket resolutions. If an MSP can’t produce contracts that meet your standards, then it’s best you look elsewhere.

Industry-specific experience

One of the easiest ways to tell whether a prospective MSP is a good fit is if they’ve worked with companies similar to yours. Review their website and client portfolios to see if they have experience serving clients in your industry. It’s also worth looking at customer reviews and interviewing long-term clients to assess how proficiently MSPs have served similar companies in the past. 

We at Empower IT, for example, provide IT solutions geared towards organisations in healthcare, education, trades services, not-for-profit, and professional services. That means we understand the challenges organisations in these industries face and therefore know the best solutions to recommend.

Pricing model

Managed IT services costs vary depending on the MSP you’re working with. It’s therefore important that you know their exact pricing model and how it fits with your budget before finalising your decision. Here are six of the most common MSP pricing models you should know about: 

  • Monitoring-only pricing –provides network monitoring, system alerts, and basic incident response services 
  • A la carte pricing –invoices for specific services requested from a co-managed provider, such as cybersecurity, VoIP, or cloud management
  • Per-device pricing –bills companies for each device the MSP will monitor and maintain 
  • Per-user pricing –charges fixed monthly fees for each user and all their devices
  • Tiered pricing –includes bundled packages that increase in cost if businesses ask for more comprehensive services and solutions

All-you-can-eat pricing –offers comprehensive remote and on-site support for a flat monthly subscription fee

Location

Partnering with a local MSP in Australia is a much better option than working with one offshore. That’s because, for one, local providers can give on-site support, when required, for dealing with complex technical issues and deploying new solutions. They’re also in close contact with your business and can therefore offer a more personalised service, are more aware of Australian legalities and there are generally less layers between you and the resolution you are after. Meanwhile, an offshore MSP can often have timezone issues, lack of support due to public holidays you may not be aware of and can only provide remote support, which can be frustrating when troubleshooting IT problems.

If you’re looking for a leading Australian MSP that can help your business thrive in 2021, choose Empower IT. We have a wide range of managed services that can be customised to your company’s unique requirements, goals, and budget. Talk to our experts today to see if we’re the right fit for your business.