Managed Service Providers or MSPs are outsourcing companies that can partially or entirely manage a client’s IT infrastructure. They encompass various technological services such as helpdesk and support, cyber security, IT projects, consulting, and communications.
Many businesses hire these companies because it opens them to new opportunities that could improve their operations, from efficiency and security to costs.
When you hire a Managed Service Provider, you would presume that they can handle your IT requirements and maintain them as you scale your business. But sometimes, problems can occur in this relationship, and sometimes it can be due to the provider not delivering their end of the deal.
In other words, they suck.
At Office Solutions IT, we have clients all over Australia who had the same day-to-day struggles with their previous IT Service Provider. They realised something was amiss that was ultimately affecting their staff’s productivity and they were wasting resources on the wrong people.
In this article, I will lay out ten of the most common red flags you should look out for to know if your MSP sucks or not.
Lack of Communication
Is your MSP taking too long to respond? Or maybe they’re hard to contact?
This behaviour is typically not a good sign if the IT issue is affecting your operations on a dramatic level. And once they eventually fix the issue, your profits and reputation are already tarnished.
Hire a Managed Service Provider that you can easily reach and communicate with. It's always good to have a provider you can be straightforward with about your current business disposition, how their service is affecting your business, and what needs to change for the better.
You must have a sincere relationship with your MSP because your IT integrity depends on their performance.
Bad Response Times
Waiting long to get a response to your technical support ticket is typically a bad sign.
We’ve had many clients talk about their experience with former MSPs taking days to respond to one support ticket.
Now, let’s see how much damage a poor response time can do to your business.
Say your average hourly rate per employee is $100, and the tech issue affected five of your employees. So that’s already $500 down the drain for just an hour of downtime.
And what if your IT Service Provider took four hours to respond to your ticket plus another hour to fix it? That’s already five hours’ worth of work wasted and a $2500 loss.
One of the most critical qualities you should look for in an IT service provider is response time. Because if they have a good track record with their response time to low and high-level tickets, you’re less likely to suffer from financial losses due to technological issues.
Now, let’s say your MSP's response time looks great but how effective are they in fixing the issue? Not just implementing break/fix solutions, but proactive ones that would prevent the same problem from surfacing again soon.
Although it’s only natural that MSPs can’t prevent or fix every IT problem, you should also look into how they analyse incidents and create solutions to prevent issues from showing up again.
You can confirm their proactiveness on how they monitor issues, leverage outcomes, and implement solutions. Check how they use various technologies, address problems right from the source, and carry out results.
Be alert once you notice that your IT Provider isn't doing the things above. If they're not, expect to face recurring issues time and time again.
Bad Technical Skills
When you hire a Managed Service Provider, you will have a dedicated team of support technicians who are experts in your information technology needs as a business. And since that is the case, you will need certified and trained professionals who understand your business at a certain level to fix technology-related problems.
That’s the ideal scenario.
But what if your MSP hires inexperienced technicians instead of certified experts?
Although that’s not an entirely awful thing (since experience is not the only thing considered in hiring), it can be a setback to your business.
Remember, trainees are prone to mistakes. These mistakes can backfire on your IT or worse, put a halt to your business continuity plans.
Little to No Monitoring
Managed IT service providers should have the capacity to monitor and detect incoming problems before they hit you.
Since they have sufficient tech and the IT smarts for it, you would expect that they can remotely manage and monitor using high-end tools to detect cyber incidents.
But what if you're always the one who breaks out the news of failing systems and server downtimes?
Maybe experiencing this once is fine, but if this is a commonly occurring issue with your IT Provider, they either don't do their job right or don’t have the right tools to monitor cyber issues.
Unfortunately, this is one of the most common problems companies have with their previous MSPs.
It’s either their monitoring system is not configured and set up correctly, or they never had it from the start.
Insufficient Security & Compliance
The lack of cyber security is probably the most critical red flag listed here.
Never mind the lack of technical skills and communication, IT security will precede them all since it is what will protect your personal data from getting into the wrong hands.
It’s not just large corporations and organisations that need sufficient management security and compliance. So do small and medium-sized businesses.
It’s only typical for any business to install a firewall and anti-virus software on their networks. Although it could provide some level of protection, some threats can still slip through the cracks – especially the newer and more sophisticated ones. So, it’s only vital that your Managed Security Service Provider can keep up with the ever-evolving cyber threats released every day.
If your IT Provider doesn’t have the capabilities to implement the necessary security measures for your data, you are open and vulnerable to cyber disasters from ransomware to data loss.
As a business, you’re holding confidential employee and customer data, so no less than top-notch security is imperative if you want to keep cyber-attacks and threats at bay. It is their responsibility to recommend and provide you with the ideal security solution that fits your business.
Unpredictable IT Bills
The MSP pricing model is critical, especially for businesses with tight budgets.
As a business owner or decision-maker, you would likely prefer a fixed-priced monthly IT bill from your MSP compared to an unpredictable one. Since budget planning is a critical component in business operations, you need a fixed-priced IT package to predict your monthly expenditures cost-effectively.
But if they're handing out higher and inconsistent invoices every month (when in reality, you’re still getting the same services as before), you may be facing several problems.
First, they don’t have a clear strategy that will allow you to stick to your IT budget. Second, they don’t inform you of any hardware or software purchases (including installation fees) until you receive the invoice. And third, you both have informational discrepancies and unmet expectations in the package agreement.
Not all businesses have the same business models and IT needs.
For instance, a health care provider may require a higher level of security and support than a small flower shop, or in retrospect, a small flower shop may need a more intricate cloud storage platform to store their confidential e-commerce data than a small dental clinic.
The same goes for you.
Your business has specific IT objectives, and your provider should offer customisation that can specifically cater to your industry and goals. Because if they can’t, you won’t get the IT support you require or end up paying for services you won’t need.
If you notice that they can’t provide you with an IT package customised according to your goals, then they’re likely not the right service provider for you. Search for a good MSP that can offer flexible packages that cater to your business objectives, pricing, and terms.
I guess it's safe to say that you should never settle for less when it comes to hiring a Managed Service Provider.
High Employee Turnover
Whenever you reach out to your MSP, you would always expect to talk to the same person, or at least the same group of people, because not only are you familiar with them, but they’re also more experienced in fixing your IT infrastructure.
But understand that eventually, those people will move on to pursue a new chapter in their career, and a new support engineer (someone unfamiliar with your environment) will take over.
It’s normal for service providers to have employee turnovers. This is usually something you should not worry about as long as they provide the same quality service as before. But if it’s the opposite, it can cause you multitudes of problems, from slow resolution times to miscommunication.
Ideally, they should assign you to a dedicated team of tech experts familiar with your IT and business operations.
No Interest in Your Success
MSPs are a business, and it’s only natural that they want to make a profit and grow as a company. But if you notice that they're more interested in pitching you new services and products that you don’t need (without considering your budget and actual needs), this is a shiny big red flag.
This constant up-selling is a bad sign since you’re pressured into taking up services, contracts, and packages you won’t need now or in the immediate future. Ultimately, their goal would be to bump up your monthly invoices under the impression of a bigger and better IT experience.
A Managed Service Provider will only recommend the appropriate IT services and products according to your objectives while at the same time being respectful of your budget.