Managed IT Service

Choosing an MSP with Confidence

September 01

An MSP can offer you more time to focus on the operational aspects of your business, but choosing the right one can seem intimidating.  

Join our host Will Slappey and guest Josh Crago, experienced Technology Consultant, as they discuss choosing the right Managed Service Provider for your business. There’s much more to hiring a managed services provider than the bottom-line.   After all, a good MSP is not just a provider but a partner invested in your success.

In this episode of our popular podcast we discuss: 

  • Different options available to you
  • Best practices to hire the right team for the job
  • How an MSP can help reduce IT expenditure 


Will Slappey: Welcome to Technology Simplified, tech talk everyone can understand. I'm your host, Will Slappy, CEO of IT Voice. Today I'm joined by Josh Crago, technology consultant here at IT Voice, who is also the host for his own podcast called Culture of Splife. Josh loves to build long term partnerships with his clients.

He is all about finding the perfect solution, whatever it takes. He has tons of experience working with a wide range of industries and business sizes. Today we're going to talk about selecting the right managed services provider to fit your business size, needs, and goals.

So Josh, what are some of the managed services, or as many people call it, MSP options that are currently available in the market?

Josh Crago: So simply put, Will, I would say that there are just two options. There is a fully managed option and then there's a co managed option. So the fully managed option would be You basically give us the keys to your I. T. Department, right? We are now your I. T. Department. So if you have any problems with anything that we manage for you, whether that be email switches, firewalls, any of your infrastructure. You're just going to call us and very simply, we have a local number to call and our customers have one point of contact. So that's one way to go about it. And they can either have the services set up so that we're only available to them 9 to 5. Or we can be available to them 24 hours a day, depending on what their needs are.

The other option is the co managed, and that is just filling in for where they need us. So if they don't need us to manage different parts of their infrastructure, and they just want us to manage their email, for instance, we could just do that and allow them to continue to maintain what they've been doing and what they're accustomed to doing.

Will Slappey: Yeah, so it sounds like that in those, two options that you talked about there. The fully managed is fully outsourced. There's no IT Personnel, that are on the client’s staff and all of its outsourced to the MSP that they choose.

And in the co-managed, I imagine that in most of those cases, They have some sort of IT person whether that be a tier four, it could be a CIO level person. And just outsourcing, certain parts, whether it be the help desk or whatever else, or it could even be in the reverse.

You could have a tier one person, and then you're outsourcing the higher tier stuff, whatever it might be in that co-managed is, the customer has somebody on staff doing part of it and then they are outsourcing other parts, whether that be super narrow or broad, to an MSP. I think that makes sense.

And it sounds like that almost any customer of any size could potentially use an MSP at least to supplement what they're doing.

So have you seen any companies improve their business by leveraging this full service solution that you talk about.

Josh Crago: Yes, definitely. There's several customers that I've had the opportunity to work with and been able to help with either co managed or fully managed.

But the customer that comes to mind, I'm not going to mention for confidentiality reasons, but we were able to help take over all their IT support. And they had another company that they were working with locally, but what was happening is... They would be paying a monthly fee to manage everything, but then it seemed every time they came out to help them, there would be a bill.

And it just got to be where they couldn't budget their IT costs. And our solution really made sense for them because this is a company that needs support 24 hours a day. And they were also having a tough time with that. And so, we have a program that our technicians are available to our customers 24 hours a day, and they only pay one bill and they know exactly what that bill is going to look like every month, regardless of how often they need us.Schedule an Network Assessment with IT VOICE

Will Slappey: Yeah. And I think you bring up a really good point there. Usually, the customer wants it to always work and never have to call. And if they do call, they want it fixed in 30 seconds, right? Whereas in one of those break fix type models, the IT Company makes the most money by the more often you call them and the more amount of time that they spend working on fixing the problem. It puts you at odds from a customer to IT company perspective. What the customer wants and what benefits the IT company are literally polar opposites you know from each other. So yeah I’ve seen a lot of MSP's have a lot of a lot of success both for themselves as well as their customers by having more of those fixed price plans that you're talking about that allow them to, budget and not have overages, but also having the incentives aligned with that MSP.

Because they know that they're both the most benefited by the client, not having to call the MSP because everything's just taken care of and always working. I think a lot of great points that you're bringing up there from the expectation point.

So obviously you mentioned some of the great things, and some of the things that you've been able to help your customers with. And I know there's always pros and cons to anything, right?

So what are some of the cons that people should just consider? If they decide to go with bringing the MSP in.

Josh Crago: Sure. Definitely. There are a couple of different cons. But the pros far outweigh the cons as far as I'm concerned. And maybe I'm a little biased, who knows. But when there is a startup company that I work with. Sometimes they're a little nervous about signing a contract because they really don't know how long they're going to be there. We know the percentages on startup failure and to have a legally bound contract with a company. They may not want to do that, but on the other side of that when I work with businesses that have been around for a while or are well established, they feel good about those long term contracts.

And the reason for that is they know that they have a partner whether that be us or another MSP. They know that they can count on that business to help them because a contract is two sided, right? We, or that MSP is saying, we agree to help you for the length of this contract. And of course you agree to pay us for the amount of time on this contract.

That's one big thing. And then the second is a lot of times when businesses are at the cusp of making that decision, whether or not they need an, a IT provider or not, IT support or MSP, they're used to having that control. They're used to being that one stop shop, if you will, and fixing things.

And if things aren't fixed in 30 seconds. As you alluded to, it's their fault. It's not the company that they're working with from an MSP standpoint. So that lack of control can sometimes be a disadvantage to hiring an MSP for their company.

Will Slappey: Yeah. And whether it's real or not, it's certainly something that I've heard from a lot of different clients out there.

Right now, I can literally grab the guy that's in charge of that. It's in the office next door, down the hall or whatever. And even like people who want to keep physical servers or other things like that, like I can see it, feel it and touch it. So yeah, some of both the cloud as well as outsourcing, sometimes it's that kind of sense of do I have a hundred percent control, which is obviously important for a customer.

What about cost though? How does that come into play, in the different scenarios that you've seen from a disadvantage or, from pro or con perspective.

Josh Crago: Generally what we find and what other MSPs find is that the IT company is basically providing almost like insurance to a business. The goal is that the IT company gets everything set up extremely well, so that the company doesn't have to call very often. But if they do, then that's available to them. I've had some customers that haven't needed us for a couple of months. And then the third month they needed us a tremendous amount because they had a lot of employees off board, on board, on all those different things.

But again, it all comes down to, they know exactly what they're paying. And when I'm working with them, I go through an equation to show like a breakeven of whether it makes sense to have a break fix model, or if it makes more sense to have kind of that all-encompassing one call, we fix any issues that you have.

Will Slappey: That makes good sense. So earlier you'd mentioned something about the right fit.

When a customer is trying to find that right fit. How can they make sure that they, select the MSP that’s the right fit for them?

Josh Crago: Certainly the first thing that I would look for is if I were a company and I were hiring an MSP, the first thing I would want to know is, do you have any references?

How many businesses have worked with you in the past and what has their experience been? That's obviously huge. And is it the right fit for you as far as how long it takes to at least address the issue that you have? Obviously, if there's a major issue, if there's an outage, something like that, the MSPs arms are tied, but is that person going to be available to help?

Because just like in anything, especially in technology, there are issues oftentimes. And most salespeople in this business are available 24 hours a day to their customer. So that would be the first thing that I would ask. How easy is it for me to be able to reach you when I have an issue?

Because at the end of the day, all MSPs have a help desk, but it's the salesperson that has the relationship with the particular business that they've worked with. That customer needs to make sure that the salesperson isn't just getting the contract signed and then moving on to the next, that they're going to be with them to help them through any issues that they have and ensure that those issues are resolved.

Will Slappey: Yeah in a lot of ways, it sounds almost like even hiring employee in terms of the relationship part is very essential. Are they going to fit in? Are they available in the times that you need to have them available? And those kinds of things. So I think those are some good notes.

And I think all that availability, even on site, versus, fully remote, which is the same with employees, right? Do you need an employee on site or do you need a fully remote employee? Some businesses could hire an MSP that was fully remote and could work for them.

If all their employees are remote, it probably does. But if they've got an office and they need somebody to be able to come on site from time to time, then that would be something to consider. It sounds like in a lot of ways it's very similar to some of those same questions that you would ask with hiring an employee.

So let's switch the conversation, Josh, because we've spent a lot of time talking about fully managed, which I know is something that you're super passionate about. But, let's just say you've got somebody that's already got their own IT Department or at least an IT person of whatever capacity that they might be.

And they're still interested in what an MSP I can do for them. What could an MSP do for somebody that's got some sort of internal IT Person or department?

Josh Crago: Sure. So there are different options that MSPs offer, right? There's that break fix opportunity where they want to do as much as they possibly can to support their infrastructure, the needs that they have from an IT standpoint for their business. And then they want to just be able to call on an MSP for things that they either don't have time to deal with, or maybe they need that expertise. And a lot of times businesses will call on an MSP because maybe the issue that they have is a bit over their head, right?

They're in business to do whatever it is that they do, whether they're an air conditioning contractor, a plumber, a doctor. Maybe they do or don't have an actual IT Person to help them. And maybe that person can only go up to this line. And then after that, they need that support. And most MSPs will have a multitude of people that specialize in whatever it is that they need. So that's a huge reason to have an MSP, at least in your back pocket. So that if you need something like that, you have a team of individuals that aren't going to call in sick. If they do, there's someone waiting behind them.

And the, another big thing is they don't have to pay benefits to their IT person if they don't need that person anymore because now they have a whole team of people to help them.

Will Slappey: Yeah, I think that's a great point because with an in house IT team, hopefully, they're not installing a firewall like every month, right?

I guess unless you're growing a lot, or something along those lines. But it's installing a new firewall every couple of years. And so while the internal team might be able to do it, bringing in an expert that does that every single day could have some advantages.

It sounds like that the internal IT team in a lot of ways is like that generalist when it comes to say the medical capacity. You have your family doctor that you go to. That's a great, initial stop for any sort of needs. But at some point, if you need to get your gallbladder out, you probably want to go see a specialist, that can do that.

And that would be the advantage of working with an MSP. They have all those specialists like a hospital has. They've all the specialists, own staff and you can grab whoever you need to be able to come in to help with that expertise. But on your day to day that generalist can tend to those needs that you have on a day to day basis, and you can supplement, where it makes sense.

On a fractional sort of level. So I think all that makes, a lot of sense in terms of how that functions. Looks like that we are coming up here on time. So that's it for today's episode of Technology Simplified. The decision to sign up with an MSP is a pretty big one. You're essentially trusting someone with the backbone of your business, your technology infrastructure. So you need to make sure you pick someone with whom you can have a mutually beneficial long-term trusted relationship. If you have any questions or topics that you'd like us to cover in future episodes, feel free to reach out to us on social media or through our website.

We're always super excited to hear from our listeners. Don't forget to subscribe to Technology Simplified wherever you get your podcasts, so you never miss an episode. Have a great week.

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