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Managed Services is one of the fastest growing sectors of the technology industry. Law Firms and professional service organizations need more predictable, proactive IT services to deal with rampant security threats, evolving technology, and to level spending patterns. A Managed Services Provider (MSP) will protect your IT environment and stabilize your budget. But not all MSPs are created equal. Remember that while many people SAY they are an MSP – most are not. Know what qualifies someone as an MSP and how your firm can benefit from using one. Here are a few guidelines.
1) 24×7 Monitoring
A true MSP will have invested in dedicated monitoring systems that can identify problems BEFORE they shut down your PC or network. Some technology support resources will use the tools included in the Microsoft systems which are limited and not customizable to your specific needs. If someone says they use Microsoft for notifications, odds are you’re not getting what you’re paying for. Some MSPs also only monitor your network during business hours, increasing the chances of a security breach or system failure when no one is there to stop it. Choose an MSP that offers 24x7x365 remote monitoring.
The MSP should offer you a plan tailored to the needs of your company. For instance, a 50 person firm may benefit from 10 hours a month of support while a 5 person firm may only require 2 hours a month.
You should also look for a provider that offers both unlimited support plans and/or bundled hours. Unlimited plans offer better budget planning but Bundled time may ultimately offer better support. This is because Unlimited programs are most profitable when the provider is able to do the bare minimum (usually remotely). The program that works best for your firm should fit both your budgetary and business needs.
3) Remove vs. onsite support
Choose an MSP that offers both remote AND onsite support. While remote support helps resolve small issues quickly, there is no replacement for face-to-face time with your technician. Onsite visits are essential to ensure your equipment is running correctly and to resolve issues that may have not been called in. Make sure you also have access to after-hours support. You should be able to speak to someone immediately in case of an emergency.
4) Reporting & analytics
Select an MSP that provides monthly reporting. This keeps you knowledgeable and aware of how your IT environment is performing throughout the year. These reports should show you which areas of your network are performing well and which areas need improvement. It should also provide the means to better budget for your IT expenditures. Knowing that certain systems are starting to fail allows the firm to ‘shop’ for better pricing on nearly all their IT purchases.
5) Industry experience
Choose an MSP with a depth of experience in your industry. A knowledgeable MSP will make recommendations for improvements beyond your hardware. They should provide insight for improved workflow, training, and software systems. Having industry specific insights as to what can work well and what might not can be invaluable when trying to run a profitable business. The legal industry is inundated with technology created specifically for law firms – make sure your MSP knows the ins and outs of how to keep them running at peak performance.
Remember that engaging with an MSP means you value having your systems up and running as much as possible. MSPs are not paid to show up when something is broken; rather, they are supposed to do everything possible to keep it from breaking in the first place. This requires a regular monthly commitment of time from the MSP and a monthly financial commitment from the law firm. Click here for more information about Managed Services.