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What to Look for in a Managed Service Provider: A Guide for Chicago Small Businesses

In today’s tech-driven business world, especially for big-business cities like Chicago, a strategic approach to IT is just as important as a strategic approach to business. 

Yet many Chicago businesses still find their IT services lacking, and may be looking for a better Managed Service Provider (MSP) to fill the gaps. With compliance regulations increasing, cyber threats becoming more sophisticated, and cloud solutions topping the tech charts, businesses can’t afford to pay for services that don’t meet their growing needs.

But how can you know that your Managed Service Provider is really the right partner for your business? By taking a closer look at what you should be looking for in an MSP, you can determine whether your business has the IT support it needs and deserves.

managed service provider

Here are the top ways you can tell that you’ve landed a great Managed Service Provider:

Your business goals are a top priority.

There’s a difference between choosing a Managed Service Provider who has specialized knowledge and choosing one who can apply that knowledge to help meet your business goals. The IT team that takes the time to understand your business, its unique model, and what it needs to grow is the one that will offer the most efficient solutions for both long-term and short-term needs.

If your IT team doesn’t regularly consult you on your business goals or offer strategies to adapt their skillset to meeting those goals, then you’re not getting the attention that you need. IT should do more than simply help the business function, it should help it excel.

Communication is consistent and quick.

Being able to reach out to the IT support you need and have them respond quickly is essential for keeping your business running smoothly. 

If you’re unable to reach your provider or you are constantly having to ask what’s being done to manage your IT, communication is ineffective. These unnecessary frustrations that come with poor communication and slow response times can cause you to lose time and money, and just one hour of downtime can cost your business as much as $300,000.

Your Managed Service Provider should understand the importance of efficient communication, giving you a direct line to get in contact with the right personnel whenever you need them. Furthermore, they should ensure that you have a consistent point-of-contact throughout your relationship with them and that you are regularly apprised of new developments within your IT infrastructure.

Industry standards are non-negotiable.

Depending on what industry you are in, you likely have a range of regulatory bodies enforcing compliance with certain cybersecurity policies. To meet compliance regulations, you need an IT team that understands what those regulations entail and how to ensure your services and systems are totally compliant.

Business owners and decision-makers shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not their IT providers are going to know how to stay compliant with industry regulations and standards. Your provider should have experience of working in your industry and implementing the policies that govern it. 

Without this specialized industry knowledge and your provider’s commitment to keep you compliant, you could be responsible for non-compliance consequences, and even client lawsuits. Just scratching the surface of those costs are non-compliance fines, where the average fine for non-compliant companies was around $14.82 million in 2018.

Proactive threat management beats out reactive care.

A proactive approach to managing IT threats is not only superior to reactive care; it’s essential. We’ve already covered the costs of downtime, but the cost of a single successful data breach can exceed $8.19 million, both in the costs of retrieving your data and in legal costs. Without proactive round-the-clock system monitoring, vulnerabilities are left unpatched to be exploited by opportunistic threat actors, which makes you much more susceptible to these costly breaches.

In a world where 60% of small companies close within six months of a data breach, you can’t afford to risk hiring a provider who operates reactively. You need a team that will prioritize actively searching for and patching threats before hackers can take advantage of them. A reliable Managed Service provider will implement 24/7 system monitoring devices that do just that.

As your business seeks the best partner for managed IT services to meet its needs, keep in mind these top qualities to look out for. Without these commitments to keep your business running safely and efficiently, you could be putting your business at risk. The best Chicago Managed Service Providers prioritize your business needs, quick response times, and security, and that’s exactly what every growing business deserves.