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Our Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Managed Services Provider (MSP)

A Managed Services Provider (MSP) can give your businesses the flexibility of access to a dedicated and highly-skilled IT team without its being an in-house resource. The can manage your cloud demands, and make sure your other key IT infrastructure stays up and running. Choosing the right MSP can give your in-house IT team their valuable time back and can also reduce the stress on business owners if they set clear SLAs on how they want issues to be handled and escalated.

But if your business chooses the wrong Managed Services Provider, you could be left with unexplained downtime, reputational damage, and unhappy customers. When choosing a dependable MSP, you’re investing in the stability of your business. What should you be looking for when choosing a MSP?

1 – You need an MSP that can adapt as your business needs change

The beauty of outsourced IT services is that all you need to specify is the type of cover you require and then it’s up to your MSP to ensure that the required resource is in place.  For example, you might be considering expanding your customer support to provide out-of-hours cover, without having to increase your in-house headcount.

Then as your business grows, you may need to provide an even better service level, requiring additional resource available to handle customers’ calls.  When you’ve decided on your MSP, it’s vital to discuss how flexible you need them to be and how the changing needs of your business require support.

2 – Your MSP’s staff should be honorary employees of your business

Intercity Technology Happy EmployeesWhether you’re a healthcare organisation, a beauty business or deal with bricks and mortar, every industry has its own niche. That means your Managed Services Provider needs a level of understanding of what your customers expect and how your business delivers service to them.

How well your MSP understands your industry has a direct impact on how well they support your business, especially when they’re supporting your IT infrastructure. They need to know how to support your business within your industry, so it’s worth investing the time in training the MSP on how to keep your customers happy.

3 – Your business doesn’t sleep, so neither should your MSP

Your Managed Services Provider has responsibility for supporting and maintaining your valuable data which means they must be available whenever you need them. If and when things don’t go according to plan, you need to know that any potential data drama or cybersecurity risk is being handled in the timeliest way.

That means at any time of day or night, at weekends and on public holidays. Effective monitoring of your networks ensures that your MSP can deal with any potential problems or red flags proactively rather than reactively.

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4 – You’re entitled to ask for a reference

With MSPs, a proven track record is everything. Once a deal is done, and a salesperson is no longer involved, you need to know that the service you’ve signed up to will be delivered. When you are deciding on an MSP, it’s key to ask for references before signing a contract.

You may even know another business they serve that will act as a reference point and could ask them on an informal level about the experience they have had with your potential MSP.

5 – Do you want an on-site presence?

A remote Managed Services Provider can often deliver everything you need, but sometimes, you might need some on-site assistance. Before committing to an Managed Services Provider, check whether they’ll be able to offer you on-site support. It’s always a good idea to negotiate on-site presence and the support coverage hours for site visits within a Service Level Agreement to make sure that you both know what to expect from your relationship.

Do you want to speak to us about how we can become your honorary team members and support your IT department around the clock? Get in touch with Intercity Technology today or read more about our network and infrastructure support.

Up next

iOS vs Android – The mobile security wars

We all have our own preference. Whether you’re a loyal Apple customer, or you’ve never been tempted to put distance between your thumbs and your Samsung device, one thing we’re all concerned about is mobile security.

We want to know that our mobiles can double-up as personal and customer data vaults and that we can rely on to support us in our daily work. But if you are flipping a coin and deciding whether iOS or Android is going to give your network of mobile employees the most secure and robust devices, you might want to think about which operating system has that enhanced security edge…

It’s estimated that there will be six billion mobile devices by 2020. Whilst laptops and computers are looking to experience a decline, they’ll still be necessary in the workplace. Businesses want to continue to power their mobile workforces with smart and secure devices (for example through effective MDM).

By using our devices to do more, for example handling transactions, it makes smart phones an alluring target for cybercriminals targeting Android or iOS devices.

Intercity iPhone: IOS vs AndroidApple’s iOS has managed to withstand the might of cybercriminals with Android being the operating system more vulnerable to cyber attacks. You may be wondering how this is the case. With Apple’s robust vetting process, apps that want to make their way into the App store have to jump through cyber hoops.

It works: their approach has largely prevented more widespread malware infection. When Apple test and validate their apps, you know that if your employees download content, it’s less likely to cause a device security risk. But the iOS-based malware XCodeGhost has proven that iOS is vulnerable to malicious attacks as well, so educating your staff and making sure you have an effective MDM solution can always minimise the risk.

On the flip-side, Google provides a centralised market for mobile applications called Google Play. But Android’s ability to install apps from third-party sources means that you can never be fully convinced of where an app has come from, including if it has appeared with the help of a malware hotspot.

Free apps that haven’t been properly tested are completely accessible on your business’ mobile devices. The number of threats, particularly on the Android platform continues to increase. SophosLabs have identified more than 1.5 million samples of Android malware since 2010.

So how do you ensure your mobile workforce isn’t getting too app-happy and is considering the importance of security when it comes to mobile devices, iOS or Android?

1. Education

Make sure that your employees know how to protect their mobile devices, carefully consider what apps they’re downloading, and remember that they should only be downloading apps that are needed strictly for business.

2. Wi-Fi woes

Yes, we’re always seeking a connection outside the office, but think carefully before connecting a laptop or mobile device to an open WiFi network that’s not secure. It could expose your business’ network to dangerous malware or make you open to other devices on that open network. Using a VPN can hugely help with this.

3. BYOD policies

Rather than opting for a MDM strategy to implement on corporate devices, you might devise a policy that fits with employee-owned devices instead.

4. Approved apps only

You might consider providing a list of apps that employees can add to their corporate devices, and they have to be from trusted sources only. You could also consider building your own enterprise app store for your mobile workforce.

5. Security, security, security

Securing your devices with encryption, keeping operating systems, Android or iOS up-to-date, and providing cloud-sharing platforms for your business’ employees to store valuable data could also help to secure your network within the office, and outside it.

So, who actually wins?

From the perspective of user privacy and security controls, iOS tends to be the OS of choice for security professionals. This extends through to enterprise users, where corporate security policies and mobile device management (MDM) requirements arguably make iOS the better fit.

But on balance, Android provides more market choice for the consumer (including devices, OS variants, and mobile apps) which accounts for its massive market share and offers greater support to businesses who wish to adopt BYOD policies.

Ultimately, whichever platform you choose, the best form of security exists at the data level – protecting your mobile devices before data is received by the device. To understand your options and how Intercity can support your mobile fleet security, get in touch today.

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