3 Ws for Hiring an IT MSP for Digital Transformation

  • October 26, 2016
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Our readers know we often tell leaders of small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) to emulate the practices of big-time CIOs.

Why? Because with the reach of an increasingly mobile workforce and the leverage of cloud services, today’s SMBs can compete on an unprecedented scope and scale with large enterprises. These technologies can provide smaller firms with the same competitive advantages and operational efficiencies that large corporations have reaped from their IT infrastructures for decades.

Those same technological opportunities also present challenges, such as “digital transformation.” The “digital” part of the term refers, of course, to new IT opportunities such as cloud, mobility, and big data technologies. The transformation piece refers to the challenges, as companies work to bring “fundamental change to an organization’s day-to-day business from the types of products and services it produces to how it delivers them.”

Digital transformation can be daunting to even the largest enterprises, according to a recent study cited in CIO Magazine. Eighty percent of global executives surveyed (more than half identifying themselves as CIOs) believe digital transformation is a priority, but more than a third of them feel their company lacks a “clearly defined digital transformation strategy.”

For SMBs, though, the issue seems to be more practical. Research by the consulting firm The Hackett Group – also cited by CIO Magazine –suggests that one the largest obstacles to digital transformation for enterprise on a small scale is sourcing talent with the right skills. This is one reason SMBs are turning more and more often to IT Managed Service Providers (MSPs).

But how can SMB leaders ensure that an MSP is the best fit for keeping pace with today’s dynamic digital environment, but also has the relationship savvy to deliver customized attention?

To help evaluate new MSPs, we’ve developed a set of questions for guidance:

  • Who will serve on my team?
    You should meet each member of the MSP team that will be interacting with your organization. Review their technical qualifications and credentials, but assess their so-called “soft skills,” too. How? We offer some ideas in our post “Five ‘Minds’ to Seek in Your Managed Services Provider.”
  • What must I teach my MSP about my business and industry?
    Ideally, you should find an MSP with experience working with companies similar to your firm in the same vertical markets where your organization competes. But treating this sort of guidance as an absolute can prolong your search for needed support and restrict your choices needlessly. Even if an MSPs tenure in your industry is short, its team may have the digital chops and relationship savvy to help your company transform. So, invest some time in educating a prospective MSP. In “Answer 5 Critical Questions for your MSP” we suggest a way to do so.
  • When will my MSP monitor my critical systems?
    This is a bit of a trick question because today all good MSPs should provide around-the-clock remote monitoring and management of critical IT infrastructure. Continuous monitoring of factors such as network performance, internet connectivity and cyber security are vital to your business continuity and disaster recovery. If a candidate isn’t offering 24/7 automated monitoring of some kind, you should question its digital savvy.

For more insight into the nuances of finding the right MSP in the age digital transformation, see our post “How to Hire an IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) with a High EQ.”

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