Your Managed Services Provider Should Be a Consultant, Not Just a Vendor
Long gone are the days when a computer was just a box that sat in a corner or on someone’s desktop — like a typewriter, stapler or fax machine — a device you used simply to do a job faster and easier. To a large extent, computers, networks and the software that goes with them are your business. They are how your employees communicate with customers and each other; they create the environment where everyone works; and they hold the information on which your business depends. That’s why your Managed Services Provider can’t be just a box provider or fixer — a vendor who shows up when something breaks or to sell something new.
The MSP role has changed, just like the role of technology has changed.
It’s not just getting stuff to work; it’s about getting your business to work better — as in generate more sales, retain more customers, lower operating costs, and achieve higher returns on investments. That’s why your MSP can’t just be a vendor; they have to be a true business and technology consultant. Here are three key areas where you can leverage your Managed Services Provider for greater business performance.
Technology impacts how customers feel about your company from the initial impression when they find your website (assuming they find it) to how easy it is to reach the right person, to how often they must repeat “the same story” every time they contact you with an issue. There are countless ways a “consultative” Managed Services Provider can remove friction in the initial sales process and later in the ongoing customer relationship. A consultative Managed Services Provider can make you easier to find online; make your website more engaging when people do find you; and give you the “big data” tools that lets you treat each customer like they were your only customer.
Total Performance Management (TPM)
Technology today involves a million moving parts — too many for most smaller companies to manage and still have time to focus on their own business — or compete with larger companies with big IT staffs. Here’s a sample of what to keep track of: business software, Internet service providers, telephone service providers, e-commerce and electronic payments (credit cards), copier, video surveillance, web design, search engine optimization — the list goes on. Your Managed Services Provider should not just be one more piece in this puzzle. Your MSP should help you put the pieces together so they make sense for your unique business. That requires both deep experience in each of these niches, but also expertise in how to manage them as a whole. Look to your MSP to provide as much TPM as you want — up to and including acting as your authorized agent to help you negotiate better vendor terms and manage vendor relationships.
If an MSP is going to work with you as a consultant instead of just as a vendor, then they have to work with you as a business partner too. That includes helping you manage the financial aspects of that partnership. A responsible MSP understands that most companies can’t do everything on their wish list and that they need to prioritize — which is an area where the MSP can help as well. The MSP can also help you create a budget that includes ongoing support, project fees and amortized capital expenses at very low or even 0% interest rates — so costs are predictable, manageable and all-inclusive rather than unexpected, disruptive and unreliable. As a result you will be better able to plan for growth — which will improve your chances of actually growing.
So, what about you? Does this sound like the kind of relationship you want with an MSP? Or would you rather have a Managed Services Provider that just sells and fixes boxes? We make it easy to find out. Call us . . . our first consulting session is free.