Red Flags to Watch for as a Managed Services Customer

managed IT services In the ideal world, once you sign up for managed IT services, your technology-related headaches go away. 

Sure, solutions will have problems from time to time, but you know who to call. Your managed IT services provider (MSP) is the one who has to go through the trouble of identifying and resolving the problem. 

The burden of fixing your IT is off your shoulders. 

However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, you and your MSP don’t click, or you continue to face problems. Either way, the stress of IT doesn’t really go away. 

These aren’t necessarily signs that managed IT services aren’t right for you, but you may want to evaluate who maintains and supports your IT environment. 

The KR Group strives to provide a high-quality experience for its managed services clients. We are by no means the perfect MSP, but there are specific standards we — and any reputable provider — set as a goal. 

As a current managed services client, you should evaluate your provider’s offerings when you notice some of the following red flags in your IT environment: 

  1. Your MSP doesn’t have a roadmap for your IT.
  2. You are requesting service for repetitive problems. 
  3. You keep running into billing issues.
  4. Your MSP has a lack of flexibility for your specific needs.
  5. Your MSP doesn’t work well with other service providers.

Below, you can read more about what these issues look like and why they’re problematic. 

But we know identifying these red flags is only part of the process, so you can also find options for what to do if one or more of the above scenarios plague your IT environment. 

No IT Roadmap

With how fast technology changes, you can’t let your IT stay stagnant for too long. managed IT services

Even if you aren’t concerned about having the latest and greatest solutions, you’ll still need to keep solutions current and address advancements in technology. 

Best practices dictate you should have a refresh cycle for the various appliances in your IT stack, security solutions, and software renewals. 

Typically, these expenses are what make you feel nickel and dimed, but if your MSP is upfront about when these costs will come up, you can account for them in your budget

Without this direction, your MSP is only reacting to your problems, not leveraging technology to enhance your business. This should be a red flag.

Repetitive Problems

The purpose of managed IT services is to resolve your technology problems, but your MSP needs to offer more than bandaid fixes. 

If you’re repeatedly reporting the same problem, then there’s likely a bigger issue going on. Instead of quick fixes, your MSP should address the root cause to eliminate the problem. 

Like a lack of an IT roadmap, having repetitive issues signals your MSP isn’t giving your business technology the attention and care it deserves. 

Billing Issues

managed IT services One of the reasons you may have been initially drawn to managed IT services is because the solution provides predictable billing. You can easily budget for it, knowing your monthly rate shouldn’t change unless you adjust your contract. 

Not all MSPs incorporate every component of your IT into their contract, so there’s still a chance you’ll have occasional out-of-contract expenses

However, whether it’s a standard, recurring bill, or a one-time charge, the managed IT services invoice should be accurate and easy to understand. Additionally, the billing department should be friendly and willing to work with you if you have any questions or concerns about the charges. 

We’ve all had at least one bad experience with billing, so it’s understandable why you’d want to take caution if you notice frequent billing errors.

This doesn’t mean you’ll never catch a mistake on a bill — we’re all human, after all. However, the overall trend should be to have accurate invoices and helpful staff. 

Lack of Flexibility

Even if the IT solutions used in your company are the same as the business across the street, you still have unique needs. After all, your IT is unique to you and the people working in your organization. 

So while MSPs have to standardize to some degree for efficiency and security, they should have a degree of flexibility to address your individual needs. 

For example, if you’re a healthcare clinic with network-enabled x-ray machines, you might assume they’re part of technology and covered by IT services.  

MSPs don’t typically have the knowledge or resources to support equipment like this thoroughly. However, a flexible MSP might still troubleshoot networking issues before calling the manufacturer to look for other issues. 

Silo-ed IT Support

Not only do you deserve an MSP who has room to adjust their services to meet managed IT services your technology needs, but you also should have a provider who’s willing to work with other technology partners tied to your company. 

If your MSP thinks they have all the solutions and isn’t willing to work with anyone else, it’ll take much longer to solve problems where there is provider overlap. 

At The KR Group, we break down this idea into three core values

  • Humility —  Your MSP should check its pride at the door and work with you while exhibiting a humble and respectful attitude.
  • Listen first — Your MSP should listen to understand the problem without jumping to conclusions. You deserve to be heard.
  • Lifelong learning — Your MSP won’t know everything, but its engineers should be committed to keeping up with emerging technology. 

Any MSP who doesn’t work well with other organizations and demonstrate the values listed above may not be an organization you should partner with long term. 

You’ve Identified Red Flags. Now What? 

So far, you’ve read how to identify red flags in your IT environment, but what do you do if they apply to your business? 

Generally speaking, you have three options: 

1) Make it work 

If the issues are annoying but don’t seem to affect the productivity or operations of your business, you could just deal with them. 

This might be a good option if you don’t have very long left in your contract, and you can wait it out. 

2) Talk to your MSP 

If your MSPs services aren’t up to your expectations, you should consider discussing what gaps you’ve identified. 

Let them know what concerns and grievances you have, and hopefully, they’ll work on those areas and improve their service. 

This is the best-case scenario because you don’t have to go through the switching and onboarding process.

3) Switch MSPs

Sometimes, the issues are too egregious, or your conversations about the problems get you nowhere. 

At this point, you could consider leaving your current provider for one you hope will provide better service. 

However, if your contract isn’t up for renewal, you’ll likely have to pay out the remainder of the term. 

If this is in your budget or the problems are too severe, you can choose this option, but most companies make the service work or talk to their MSP — at least until their contract expires. 

How to Know if an MSP Is Right for You

managed IT services As a managed IT services client, of course, you need your IT problems resolved, but the right MSP won’t stop there. 

You should have an IT roadmap to guide your future IT decisions. The MSP you work with should help you avoid recurring problems and be flexible to your unique needs. 

You’ll also want to look for a provider that keeps billing issues to a minimum. Because when you have an MSP that meets the above criteria, your IT should fade into the background as your organization simply runs well. 

If this isn’t the case for your organization, you’ll need to decide if you want to work through the problems, talk with your MSP, or find a new provider. 

Whatever choice you make, remember that managed IT services would help your entire organization run better by providing the IT support you need. 

If you think that means you should switch MSPs, check out our free checklist to help you with this process.

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