More than once, this has happened to us. We’re in a meeting with a potential client. It reaches the point where we want to know more about how their systems are structured and see if we should work together. We ask for access and our potential client tells us they need to get the credentials from their current managed service provider (MSP).
To put it another way, they have to ask their external partner for permission to access a system they own. Anytime your MSP restricts access or refuses to provide information, it’s a red flag. Don’t accept this situation. Follow the 5 steps outlined below to create a transparent relationship with your MSP.
1. Ensure You Can Access Your Systems
When IT providers place passwords under lock and key, many say it’s to prevent unnecessary risk. Someone at their client’s business could log in and accidentally create a problem. Then, the MSP needs to go in and resolve the issue.
But again, you own the system and have a right to a password only you have. If your MSP pushes back when you ask for admin access, do this: Tell your MSP to provide the password to the system in a sealed envelope. If an issue arises, the MSP can see if the envelope is still sealed and that you’re not to blame. They retain a level of control, and you have a way to log in if needed.
2. Trust But Verify
When you first hire an MSP, there is a flurry of activity. Your IT partner comes in, cleans everything up and promises routine patching for your systems. Then, 6 months later, they’ve turned on automated systems and no one is minding the store.
See something, say something.
Like the TSA reminds you at the airport, speak up when you have concerns. Then, monitor your MSP’s response.
Example: You notice no updates have been installed on your laptop in the past 6 months and you ask your MSP why. You don’t want to hear your MSP give a jargon-filled response, deflect responsibility and insist nothing is wrong. You want them to say, “Really? Let’s look into that and figure out what’s going on.” It could be your laptop was offline during the patching window.
Your MSP’s reaction should be “Let’s figure it out; not Don’t worry about it because this, that and the other thing.” Your provider should initiate conversations too.
3. Open Lines of Communication at Every Level
Your MSP should regularly update your team and create opportunities for conversation at every level. Information shared during these meetings should cater to the audience. In our execution calls, we’re talking to our day-to-day contacts. It’s tactical, and we step back to the 10,000-foot level to discuss what’s going on and ask about recent developments. Our quarterly business reviews are executive-level meetings focusing on strategic goals, risk assessment, processes and management.
4. Ask for Data Transparency
Visibility into the tools and dashboards your IT partner uses facilitates conversations. You’ll be able to look under the hood and inquire about specific processes. Plus, when you live with the same tools the MSP uses daily, you can quickly reach out.
At itSynergy, we use Microsoft Teams, and when we work with clients who have internal IT staff, we add their people to our Teams. In addition to their customer portal in ConnectWise, every business we work with can see how we manage their system and the applications we use on their behalf.
5. Be Skeptical of MSPs Who Can Do It All
You don’t want an IT partner who can do it all. Often, when an MSP says they’ll take care of everything, they’re trying to close the sale. Work with an MSP who clearly defines and delineates roles.
Candid, up-front self-assessments show the MSP will be honest and open with you. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are, and we clearly lay out which services we do and don’t provide before working with a partner. We don’t want to leave a client in the lurch if a serious issue occurs with a system we have some knowledge of, but no depth of experience servicing.
More Transparency Leads to Better IT Partnerships
We believe there’s a direct correlation between the level of transparency and quality of the MSP. When your IT provider is willing to take you behind the curtain, it shows they’re confident in their own abilities. Drill into transparency with your MSP. If they resist, view it as a red flag and start exploring other options.
Ready for an open, communicative IT partnership?
Contact us today to learn more about the steps we take with clients to ensure transparency – like tactical and strategic meetings, client dashboards and full insight into your system.