There are a lot of ways that IT Service Providers can work so that they can call themselves Managed Service Providers. While every Managed Service Provider (MSP) is going to service your company a different way, we believe that a true managed service provider should be is dedicated to keeping your technology investment up and running smoothly so you can focus on your organization.
It should allow you to relax knowing their partnership with your organization means they take your IT personally, and are working to keep your staff productive with the tools they need to drive your business forward.
The ultimate goal of any organization’s technology (especially a healthcare organization) should be stability and security, and your MSP should take the confusion and worry out of technology, reduce your downtime and increases profitability for your business.
That all being said, you should expect a certain set of features from your MSP. Here is a list of some of the features we recommend you shop for when talking to MSPs:
User Support: Your employees should be able to call for support of their computers and the software there, and they should be able use whatever method is easiest for them. You should have multiple ways to be able get in touch with your MSP. While your MSP doesn’t have to be local, you should be able to get in touch with them via phone, email, or online chat. You should be able to track the progress of your ticket by some sort of online method and be alerted via email when updates are made.
Desktop Protection and Support: Your MSP should provide you with technical support for your users and the applications they run. They should also be providing anti-virus software for those desktop computers and laptops. They should also be providing managed patching services where they will roll out Windows patching in a tested and controlled manner so things aren’t brought down.
Proactive Monitoring: A MSP should be proactively monitoring your environment (servers, desktops, network devices, etc…) for issues that could cause downtime and alert you to them and either fix them or provide options for resolutions.
Network Security: Your MSP should be providing security services on your network that would include (but not limited to) firewall security services, anti-virus protection, internet content filtering and intrusion protection.
After Hours Availability: Hopefully you’ll never need a MSP after-hours, but you’ll need to know they are available outside of business hours if an emergency hits, even if it costs additional (which it likely will).
Email Setup and Protection: They should include setting up of users and email addresses as part of their services. In addition, they should provide some sort of email spam and virus protection, with options for email encryption and email continuity solutions that will allow you to get to your email if your email service is down.
Server Support and Monitoring: They should provide options for monitoring and providing support for your server, including watching over critical system services, replacement of defective hardware, setting up users and groups and other server-level tasks.
Backup and Disaster Recovery: Your MSP should have a plan in place with you for your backups, file retentions, backup testing and (especially important for a HIPAA-regulated industry) plans for if disaster truly strikes and you need to bring in backups from an offsite location or if your server completely dies. The backups should be monitored and tested on a regular basis.
Consulting Services: Your MSP should be a part of your management team, and they should be working with you on a regular basis to do business reviews, technology alignment auditing, project design, lifecycle planning, inventory and licensing auditing, and much more.
Compliance Services: If you are in a regulated industry, your MSP should be providing you with services that are required. For example, a HIPAA-regulated clinic of healthcare center would need network auditing and reporting, full disk encryption and reporting, and monitored network intrusion protection, among other services. They should also sign a business-associate-agreement (BAA).
While these are certainly not all the services a managed service provider may offer, these are the ones you should certainly be discussing with them to protect your technology and business investments long term.
Brock McFarlane is founding owner, CEO, and HIPAA Security Officer for Weston Technology Solutions. Weston Technology Solutions has been serving the Pacific Northwest since 1994, providing managed IT services to small and medium-sized businesses with offices in Bend and Anchorage. www.weston-tech.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 541- 383-2340.