A CFO was reviewing IT costs and decided that he was not going to move ahead with his managed IT service provider’s recommendation to patch their server's operating system software. The CFO was responsible for overseeing IT and his advisors explained the role that software patches and updates played in their overall security. Yet, when looking at the numbers, the CFO wanted to scale back their IT agreement to cut costs and decided to scratch that line item. After all, the managed IT service provider (MSP) was providing unlimited support so they would take care of them if they had a breach. Right? Wrong.
If you are in the same position as this CFO, you might view this situation as a problem because your expectation of unlimited support includes every scenario under the sun. While you should refer to your specific contract to find out exactly what is and is not included in your monthly services, we can help you get a clearer picture of how your relationship with a managed IT services provider works so that you can set realistic expectations.
Let’s start with the scenario described above.
1. The MSP Will Be Leading the Way
MSPs will have recommendations -- acting on those recommendations is important. The CFO’s decision in the scenario above significantly increased their risk of cyber attack. That means they're no longer covered for virus remediation services under their current support agreement with the IT company. Why?
Because they contracted with the MSP to provide predictable, smooth, and secure systems. When they removed an aspect of the IT company's services that compromised security, the IT company no longer has control over whether or not all of the security holes are being closed properly. That transfers the risk of a cyber attack and financial responsibility for clean-up onto to the company.
Ultimately, you're in charge. You can do whatever you want, but if you make decisions that go against the advice of your technology advisors, you’ll have to agree to take on the risk.
What that means for the CFO in our story is that if he sticks with his decision not to invest, his company will have to pay all of the costs necessary to remedy a breach.
Not all of the recommendations you’ll get from your MSP will involve big investments. Some will be about changing behaviors. An example is changing how you control access to information, or enforcing password policies. Hopefully, it’s not a problem to change behaviors to match up with best practices.
When you trust in the MSP you're working with, you’ll know that they have your best interests in mind, which leads us to our next problem.
2. You’ll Have to Make Yourself Vulnerable
How would you feel if you had someone from outside of your company shadowing your employees, asking deep questions about how they do their jobs, and learning about the ways that you serve your customers? Makes you feel vulnerable just to think about it, doesn’t it? That’s what your MSP needs to do in order to be able to learn how your business uses technology. Your comfort level with having your MSP know the good and the bad about how your business operates will be dependent on your trust level.
Trust is built with a two-way relationship, and two-way relationships require energy. You can’t just be on the receiving end. You have to give. What that looks like is access to you and your people, open communication, and a cooperative spirit.
3. You Have to Invest in Improvements
When you’re first starting out with managed IT, there will most likely be a laundry list of items that need to be improved. Your MSP will help you to prioritize and plan for the necessary investments to turn your chaotic IT framework into a predictable one.
Another way to put this is: In order for your MSP to manage your network, you have to agree to make your network manageable.
If you’re used to keeping hardware until it dies, you won't be able to do that anymore. If you’ve always bought consumer quality routers and access points, that won't work either. If your line-of-business software has been discontinued, you'll work with your MSP to find an alternative.
Something else happens when you start making the right investments in your technology. It makes your people happy - so incredibly happy. Who wants to fight with technology all day? No one.
4. Your Monthly Fee May Not Decrease as Your Network Improves
Let’s keep talking about that CFO we introduced you to at the beginning of this article.
As he gets down the road in his working relationship with his MSP, he notices that the number of support tickets his team submits have dramatically decreased. He also notices that their server hasn’t crashed since it was updated, and they haven't had a data breach - not one! What’s going through the CFO's mind? He thinks that their monthly bill should go down because their using a decreased level of support. Right? Wrong.
You and your MSP share the same goals of a smooth running network, free of cyber attacks. Part of the value that you're receiving from your MSP is that you AREN'T spending money on workers who can’t work and customers who can’t be served, because now your technology is running smoothly. However, the service level has not decreased. They're still working hard in the background to keep the network running smoothly and problem-free. They’re still doing what they agreed to do.
Monthly fees typically scale up or down depending on the number of technology users you have -- or the number of devices that are being supported, depending on how your contract is structured.
When you have a stable IT framework, you’ll be able to do things that were never possible when your system was creeping along on square wheels. With your trusted technology advisors by your side, you’ll be able to leverage new technologies; become more innovative than you ever have been before; and use technology to leap ahead of your competitors.
Setting Expectations for Your MSP Relationship
The problems that we discussed in this article aren't really problems but expectations. When they're properly set, they'll will help you get the most out of your relationship with your MSP.
Use what you learned here to help you guide your conversation as you evaluate different managed IT service providers. If you’re headquartered in Southern California, we’d love the opportunity to talk with you about how you can get a better IT experience AND business results with Managed IT Services from Accent.