Many organizations hire managed service providers (MSPs) with the intention of retaining the services of a fully-functioning IT department, including a team member who is effectively acting as a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO). However, it’s all too common that an MSP advertising vCIO services is actually providing services more akin to those of a Director of IT.
To ensure your organization is retaining the right type of services, here are four things to discuss with prospective MSPs as you evaluate their services and offerings.
1) Do they fully understand your business and have what it takes to ensure that your IT is aligned with your business goals?
One of the main objectives of a traditional CIO is to ensure that their technology capabilities and goals are aligned with the overall goals of your business. When working with an MSP it’s important that they have a holistic view of your organization and understand the nuances of your business. They must ensure that they are always leading your technology in a manner that will benefit your organization as a whole, not just your IT department.
2) Do they have sufficient staffing capabilities and organizational structure to be able to lead IT teams towards the right goals?
It may seem strange to concern yourself with the staffing and HR practices of another company, but bear with us for a second. If you’re seeking out an MSP to become your technology partner and help your organization grow, it’s important to know that they’ll be able to continue the relationship and grow with you. At this point in time you may be concerned with getting simple workstation issues taken care of, but as your business grows you may need to undertake large infrastructure projects. Therefore, it’s crucial to know that your MSP is able to handle those types of tasks - even if right now they’re only hypothetical situations.
3) Can they demonstrate how to reduce business risk for data and services?
As you’re meeting with prospective MSPs you’ll want to ask them what their capabilities and plans are for mitigating your organization’s risks. Of course they probably aren’t going to lay out a strategic plan tailored to your company right then and there - especially if you haven’t signed a contract with them - but they should be able to speak broadly to these issues. Their methods for reducing risk should indicate that they’re up-to-date on the latest threats and threat management systems, and should also show that they have a deep understanding of security best practices.
4) Are they able to help you save money and/or make more money?
At the end of the day, hiring an MSP with the capabilities to act as your vCIO should be seen as a sound investment. Ideally your new technology partner will be saving you money by helping to streamline your IT operations, cut down on help desk tickets, and decrease downtime. Additionally, they should also be in a position to help your business make money by creating an IT environment that supports growth and scalability.