March 11, 2022
Finding IT staff presents a significant challenge for many businesses. The demand far outweighs available talent, and the industry is expected to keep growing through 2026 and most likely beyond. Additionally, as technology continues to evolve quickly, the field is growing more complex, and therefore more specialized.
Many internal IT departments are struggling just to stay up to date with upgrades and patches and provide help desk support; they simply don't have the bandwidth to monitor the latest cybersecurity threats and help plan for future growth. For these and other reasons, more and more businesses are opting for Managed IT Services to fulfill all or part of their IT needs.
Generally speaking, partnering with a Managed IT Services provider helps businesses significantly streamline their operations, save money and enhance productivity. And if your business accommodates hybrid or remote environments, the need for Managed IT Services is greater, not less. But not all providers are the same, or offer the same level of service.
Before you sign a contract with a provider, make sure you have answers to the following questions:
1. Do Levels of Service Vary?
You'll definitely want to know if you can scale your service offerings if business growth is in your future. Ask immediately to see a breakdown of services, so you know what you're contemplating fits your business model. The price of service and the level of technology used to support your company's IT infrastructure are important, but cost savings and great tools won't compensate for poor service.
For example, Marco offers its clients the resources of a large company with the service and attention of a small company. Every client of ours is assigned a primary team, which includes a dedicated supervisor and six to eight technicians devoted to providing support and service to their organization. This team has access to an army of additional specialized engineers and technicians to help tackle more complex issues. Each of our clients has a team of managed IT experts who know their business from front to back, which helps them plan for the future.
Client Response Time
Marco understands that the waiting game can be one of the most frustrating aspects of remote support desk experiences. Marco maintains a 98% live-call answer on our Managed IT service calls. We also offer a warm-call transfer, which allows technicians to hand off calls to the best resource to achieve prompt resolution. This warm-call transfer eliminates common end-user annoyances such as repeating the issue over and over, or having an issue misrepresented through a game of telephone as other resources are engaged.
We also hold ourselves accountable to the experience standards we provide our clients by tracking metric-driven results. This way, we know how we measure up against our published Service Level Targets (i.e., the time it takes to respond, develop a resolution plan and resolve a service ticket) to ensure we consistently achieve these targets and develop plans to continuously improve.
Our constant attention to detail and continuous improvement is a source of great pride throughout Marco, and one that continues to earn us top marks among our peers.
2. How Do You Onboard Your Clients?
Before signing with any Managed IT provider, ask about the onboarding process so you know what to expect in the weeks and months following the signing of a provider contract. When technology is involved, there are always going to be learning curves and adjustments required as new resources are engaged and new processes are implemented.
Managed Services Onboarding Process
Ensure your provider has a plan in place so that you are not left on your own to deal with the transition and adjustment period. A good Managed IT provider will be there to support you and your employees throughout. At Marco, our process looks like this:
- A dedicated project coordinator is assigned to a client by mutual fit.
- Time is allotted to ensure clients understand our Managed IT program and its advantages.
- A timeline is established for the "go live" launch of services.
- Your dedicated Marco support team communicates daily on progress and answers questions.
3. How Are Issues Addressed?
New methods and processes are wonderful for business…when they're working. When they aren't, productivity grinds to a halt and frustration levels rise. Ask each of your prospective providers how they will respond when issues arise. In their answer, look for a balance of proactive and reactive plans.
Our approach to Managed IT includes an ongoing, proactive review of your IT infrastructure to make sure it is performing optimally, avoiding downtime, preventing security threats and analyzing other issues. The Managed IT team will routinely check the status and performance of your IT network, and a network specialist will help identify potential issues before they impact your business.
Additionally, you can always contact your dedicated team supervisor if an unexpected issue does arise, so your team can begin working on a solution immediately.
4. Do You Have An Ideal Client?
Some providers may be better suited for your needs than others. All quality IT providers will value you as a customer, but they may not provide a significant ROI for you. At Marco, we use a compatibility matrix to determine if your organization is a good fit for our services. We ask questions like these:
- What value do you put on technology?
- What hardware currently exists in your environment?
- What growth plans do you have?
The answers to these questions help us identify organizations that can benefit from our services and build a lasting, mutually beneficial partnership.
5. How Do You Benchmark Client Success?
You want to know that your Managed IT provider values your opinion. Does the company you're considering collect feedback, place a high value on it and react in beneficial ways?
Our Managed Service account managers conduct regular reviews to check on the status of your account and gauge your satisfaction. Additionally, you will be invited to participate in our company-wide client survey process. We believe the most important thing a managed services provider can do is to help clients manage how they interact with technology. To read a recent client case study, click here.
6. What Cybersecurity Services Are Available?
Cybercrime has significantly increased over the past few years, and related costs are expected to grow by around 15% each year, reaching $10.8 trillion annually by 2025. Even small to midsize businesses and nonprofits are finding themselves the victim of ransomware attacks, which more than doubled in 2021.
Cybersecurity is a serious business, and a very specialized one. And while technology improves each and every year, cybersecurity threats shift by the month. A good managed IT provider should be able to provide the following:
- Organizational compliance with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) or other nationally recommended guidelines
- A detailed assessment of current vulnerabilities
- Multi-layered email and network security to guard against spam and malware
- An intrusion detection system with unified technologies to stop breaches
- A backup and recovery plan to minimize potential damage
In-depth answers to these six questions should give you an excellent barometer to decide if a Managed IT Services provider is a good fit for your organization. If any answer doesn't line up with your goals and expectations, keep searching.
A truly great Managed IT Services provider can provide you with far more than a suite of world-class services. They can provide you with peace of mind and the ability to focus on growth…and those things are worth their weight in gold.