Seven considerations when choosing a Managed Service Provider:
- Security is more critical than ever. Determine if the provider is SOC certified. SOC certification ensures adequate controls are in place to protect your data and assets. https://www.aicpa-cima.com/home. Be diligent when investigating if a vendor is SOC certified. Even if they appear to be, it is common for a vendor to piggyback on someone else's certification. Make sure you are dealing directly with a SOC-certified vendor.
- Look for a LinkedIn link on the provider’s website. Unlike many other professions, anyone can create a website and call themselves an “IT professional.” If there is no LinkedIn link on their website, be cautious. Investigating a vendor's LinkedIn will provide you with the number of employees and their qualifications.
- Search the provider on Glassdoor and Indeed. This will provide insight into the culture of the company. You can see what current and former employees think about the company. If you can't find the company on Glassdoor, the firm will likely have very few employees.
- Do a thorough search of the provider's website. If the only employee featured is the owner, it could signify high turnover or a “one-man shop.” It is common in smaller firms for the owner to hold all the credentials.
- Be diligent in confirming references. References on a vendor’s website are often outdated or irrelevant. Call references and ask about the services pertinent to your needs. Don't limit references to your industry; instead, base your research on the skills and services required.
- There are all different flavors and types of IT providers. There are national firms, franchises, regional firms, and one-person operations. M&A in the industry is prevalent. Private Equity firms are buying local and regional firms at a fast and furious pace. It is a good idea to know if you will have access to the principals before you enter into a relationship and how that relationship may be impacted if your provider is acquired by another firm.
- Don't buy based on price. Do the research and exercise sound judgment choosing a provider. IT services are not a commodity, and if you treat them as such, you will end up disappointed.