A managed service provider, or MSP, is a critical IT partner for any business or organization. Whether you are working with an MSP for the first time or changing to a new provider, a smooth onboarding process is essential. Proper onboarding will ensure that you have clear expectations of the working relationship and will allow you to enjoy the many benefits of working with an MSP.
Here is an overview of what to expect when onboarding your MSP.
What is an MSP?
An MSP is an external, expert service provider that manages some or all aspects of your organization’s IT. An increasing number of businesses and organizations use an MSP — the MSP market grew from $107 billion to $193 billion between 2014 and 2019.
A managed service provider can provide IT support, server monitoring, strategic planning, and IT infrastructure maintenance. Outsourcing some or all of these aspects of your IT allows your business to take advantage of the MSP’s specialist expertise, optimize your IT infrastructure, eliminate needless investments in servers and other hardware, streamline routine IT tasks, and free up staff to focus on growing your business.
The onboarding process
As part of the onboarding process, your managed service provider will detail the services they will provide under your agreement. This is the time to check that they include the services necessary to meet your business’ needs — those will depend on your enterprise, but essential services generally include 24/7 response times, onsite support availability, cybersecurity and compliance support, and strategic planning. The conversation should also clearly set expectations for processes and timelines.
Your MSP will also conduct an inventory of your current software and hardware, including what devices you have and who is using them. They will assess your security systems and may introduce new cybersecurity measures such as antivirus software. Finally, they should carry out a quality network assessment that gives them an understanding of your current network and operation. All of this is important for proactive IT maintenance going forward, rather than simply reactive troubleshooting.
The onboarding process should also cover the costs of the services your new MSP will provide. Like the service structure, there are different types of billing and fee structures for managed IT services. You may have the option of a flat-fee structure, typically billed on a monthly basis, or accruing fees based on the services you use. Make sure to discuss these options with your service provider to choose the one that best suits your business.
Whatever the fee structure, managed IT comes at a cost, though this can be balanced against the money you would spend on in-house IT costs. Furthermore, although these services do require an investment, you will likely recoup this many times over. IT issues can cost businesses thousands or millions of dollars: The average cost of server downtime to enterprise businesses was $400,000 per hour in 2019. These problems and their associated costs can be avoided with a competent MSP.
Contracts and documents
There are a number of contracts and documents associated with onboarding your MSP. Your contract and service agreement will clearly lay out terms of service and termination, intellectual property rights, privacy, limitations of liability, and the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The contract is therefore vital to not only ensure that everyone is on the same page but to set legal boundaries for the relationship.
Your MSP should also map out your IT infrastructure in the initial stages of the process. This will allow them to come up with the best plan to manage your IT needs going forward.
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