Understanding what your MSP covers with “all you can eat” managed IT services is critical.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) actively market unlimited service plans. They handle everything for a fixed fee. Why wouldn’t they? IT providers gain a competitive edge by managing more pieces of a client’s IT environment than their rivals.
Here’s why. The MSP industry is mature and overcrowded. And IT companies that excel usually do so by demonstrating they are better by degrees.
As innovations in the public cloud, cybersecurity, Zero-Trust Identity solutions, AI, and automation gain traction, most MSPs still compete over minor competitive differentiators.
Your average IT provider runs a service factory, and the goal is client satisfaction:
- Asset protection
- Peace of mind to focus on core business initiatives
Do these claims sound familiar?
- “We’re 24/7/365!”
- “We offer unlimited support for everything connected to your network!”
- “Phone systems, security cameras, and Internet? You’re covered!”
Stay tuned for insights to help you plan accordingly.
Don’t worry. Everything is negotiable. But it’s best to figure this out before you sign an agreement and get hit with any surprises, including risk, extra expenses, or data losses.
#1 – Home Office Computers – not covered by Managed IT Services
Work from home is thoroughly ingrained in our corporate culture. It’s now a standard business practice.
Do your employees use personal workstations at home?
There’s a good chance many of these personal machines have different hardware, software, and operating system specs than the standardized components in your corporate network.
Unless each team member uses a corporate-owned asset, your new MSP may have to charge you extra. And this assumes the home-based device is compatible with their support process, cybersecurity monitoring, content filtering tools, patches, and updates.
Home office technology poses problems if it’s “prosumer” grade. Prosumer means it’s a cross between a professional /consumer device. Office Depot and Best Buy sell a lot of these products. And these endpoints don’t integrate well with business-class infrastructure.
#2 – Projects – not covered by Managed IT Services
Imagine you’re having difficulty reaching corporate file shares with your prosumer device.
Is anyone else using this machine? Sharing your workstation with kids is risky — especially children who game and goof around on Instagram.
If their activities infect the computer with malware, your corporate network will be compromised.
This outcome sets the stage for two potential projects: (1) an engagement to remove the malware from your company’s IT systems and (2) a workstation upgrade, paid for by your employer, to bring you up to professional standards.
Some MSPs may not charge you to remove the malware, but the topic of out-of-scope fees may arise.
Free remediation for every client, for every emergency created by user errors/negligence, or utilizing non-compliant equipment, would quickly run any MSP out of business.
Most MSPs charge for the procurement and set up of new computers. These projects are too infrequent to include in fixed fees. Plus, their inclusion would inflate the monthly pricing and scare clients off.
#3 – Vendor Management – not covered by Managed IT Services
Wouldn’t you love someone else to manage every vendor question or problem caused by software, phone systems, Internet connectivity, security cameras, copiers, and more?
Getting help with these applications can save you six hours per month.
It’s easy to get tripped up here. Vendor Management is an MSP buzzword borrowed from a more formal enterprise-level discipline by the same name.
According to SAP, “Vendor management is a term that describes the processes organizations use to manage their suppliers, also known as vendors. Vendor management includes selecting vendors, negotiating contracts, controlling costs, reducing vendor-related risks, and ensuring service delivery.”
While many MSPs perform some of the same client assistance functions, their responsibility is much lighter and priced accordingly.
I’ve been in this business since 2003, and I’ve never heard of any IT provider getting anything close to the final word on selecting vendors, negotiating contracts, or policing service implementations.
Learn More: What is Vendor Management?
For this reason, Vendor Technical Assistance is much more accurate and relevant.
Vendor Technical Assistance
Here is a hypothetical example:
- The client uses a VoIP phone system, which keeps dropping incoming calls.
- So they send a ticket to [email protected].
- The MSP opens a ticket and contacts the user to assess the situation.
- After routine troubleshooting drills, the tech at the MSP engages tech support at AT&T and Ring Central.
- The tech finally tackles the ultimate cause of call failure with AT&T, notifies the user of the resolution, and closes the ticket.
Vendor technical assistance just saved this user a ton of time. Even better, the tech at the MSP knew how to speak with his technical counterparts at the other organizations. Your average person would get frustrated with this remediation exercise.
Vendor technical assistance will be unsuccessful under any of the following circumstances:
- The technology is end-of-life and no longer supported by the vendor or developer
- The solution does not have a current support and maintenance agreement, or extended warranty
- The software is customized, niche, and only works on older operating systems
Finally, vendor technical assistance is not the same as administering a software program, hosted cloud application, or phone system.
Your MSP can assume this administrative role for you, but this carries a separate charge.
I encourage you to bring as many potential scenarios into your MSP evaluation as possible. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) should contain many of the details.
MSPs embracing the software as a Service (SaaS) model can manage more of your IT footprint. Why? There is less physical equipment, and the MSP can more efficiently manage every endpoint through a single pane of glass.
Are you crystal clear on your requirements and terminology?
Learn More: Defining Managed IT Services
The Integris team has decades of experience, and we look forward to guiding you.