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Evaluating Your MSP: Are They a Tech Vendor or a Business Partner?

Evaluating Your MSP: Are They a Tech Vendor or a Business Partner?

Have you ever wondered if your technology-managed service provider (MSP) is truly aligned with your business needs? I recently spoke with a business owner who had been with their MSP for 15 years. This longevity might seem like a testament to the MSP’s quality of service and overall client retention. However, they reached out to us at Fluid IT for a change. Why? Despite the years, the MSP had lost sight of their actual business needs, focusing more on pushing technical tools rather than supporting the business strategy.

Understanding Your MSP's Role

Choosing the right MSP is critical for your business's success. It's not just about having someone to call when things go wrong; it's about finding a partner who understands your business and aligns technology with your goals. Let's explore what sets apart a tech vendor from a business partner.

Tech Vendor vs Business Partner

Understanding the distinction between an MSP as a tech vendor and as a business partner is crucial in evaluating their role in your business.

  • Tech Vendor: Often focuses on technical solutions without considering their alignment with business goals.
  • Business Partner: Strives to understand and support your business objectives, ensuring IT strategies complement these aims.

Signs Your MSP is Just Another Vendor

It's essential to recognize the signs that your MSP might not be the business ally you need. In many cases, as we’ve seen, MSPs press and promote technical tools for their own sake, losing sight of their actual purpose: to support and enhance the business.

  • Emphasis on Tools Over Strategy: An MSP that's more interested in selling the latest tech than understanding how it fits into your business strategy.
  • Lack of Business Understanding: If your MSP doesn't show a deep understanding of your business model and needs, they may not be the right fit.
  • Missing the Big Picture: Solely focusing on IT issues like cybersecurity without considering how they integrate into your broader business strategy.

Person focused on network tech as opposed to a business partner.

The Importance of Aligning IT with Business Strategy

In today’s fast-paced business environment, aligning IT services with your company’s strategic goals is more than a convenience—it's a necessity for growth and efficiency. However, a gap often exists between what businesses receive and what they truly need from their MSPs. Let’s break down this critical aspect:

The Overlooked Service Level

Many businesses are not fully aware of the potential depth and breadth of IT services available to them. This lack of awareness leads to a significant gap in service levels:

  • Unnoticed Gap: Many businesses unknowingly settle for basic IT services, missing out on a comprehensive service level that focuses on their strategic needs.
  • Lack of Methodology: A significant number of companies receive services from MSPs without a disciplined approach to ensure alignment with business goals.
  • Awareness Issue: Often, businesses are not aware of this gap, not realizing the additional value they could gain from a more strategic IT service.

The Cybersecurity Communication Gap

Cybersecurity is a complex field, often muddled with technical jargon that can be hard to decipher for non-technical business stakeholders:

  • Technical Complexity: Cybersecurity solutions, brimming with technical jargon, can be bewildering and seemingly irrelevant to business users.
  • Implementation vs. Impact: When technical solutions like XDR (Extended Detection and Response) are implemented, their impact or relevance to the business might not be clear.
  • Business Alignment: It's crucial that these solutions are explained in terms that align with the business's needs and objectives.

The Role of Cyber Insurance and Auditors

As cybersecurity becomes a growing concern, the role of cyber insurance providers and auditors is becoming more prominent, but also more complex:

  • Increasing Requirements: Cyber insurance providers and auditors are continually raising cybersecurity requirements, often presented in highly technical language.
  • The Language Barrier: This complexity can create a communication barrier, accessible only to the most seasoned technical experts.

Aligning Advanced Solutions with Business Value

It’s essential for MSPs to ensure that their advanced technical solutions don't just exist in a vacuum but are aligned with and add value to the business’s strategy:

  • Beyond Technical Implementation: Advanced technical solutions can fall short in adding value if they are not aligned with the business strategy.
  • Need for Clarity: MSPs need to bridge this gap by communicating the benefits and workings of these solutions in terms that resonate with business objectives.

Fluid IT's Approach: A Methodology for Alignment

At Fluid IT, we adopt a structured methodology to ensure that our IT strategies are not just technical fixes but valuable business tools. We engage in meaningful conversations about the impact and necessity of each IT initiative, explaining solutions in terms that focus on their value, risk mitigation, and expected business outcomes. Our approach includes:

  • Discussed with Business Stakeholders: Engaging stakeholders in a dialogue about the role and impact of each IT initiative.
  • Educated on Value and Impact: Explaining solutions in business terms, focusing on value, risk mitigation, and expected outcomes.
  • Prioritized Thoughtfully: Aligning our technology initiatives with your business priorities, maintaining a flexible and strategic 12-month rolling plan. This includes prioritizing each initiative in relation to all planned technology projects, ensuring a cohesive and comprehensive approach. Moreover, we always have a process in place to swiftly address the unplanned and unexpected technology projects that inevitably arise in every business.

This methodology ensures that every IT initiative, whether planned or unexpected, is aligned with your business's strategic goals, ensuring that our partnership continually drives your business forward.

Group of people looking at computer like they would if they were discussing Fluid IT's methodology.

The Long-Term Relationship: Beyond Year One

The hallmark of a successful MSP relationship, whether it's been a year or fifteen, lies not in its duration, but in the MSP's unwavering dedication to your business's growth and evolution. Maintaining value and expectations consistently, irrespective of the partnership's length, is critical in ensuring that the MSP remains a true business ally.

A truly exceptional MSP doesn't just provide technology solutions; they become an integral part of your journey, continuously adapting and evolving their services to align perfectly with your changing business goals and market dynamics. It's a partnership that goes beyond mere service provision, focusing on harnessing technology as a pivotal tool for your business's success and longevity.

Your MSP, Your Business Growth Partner

In the dynamic landscape of technology and business, your MSP should be a pillar of support, not just a provider of tech solutions. Is your MSP a vendor selling tools, or a partner invested in your business success? The answer to this question can define the trajectory of your business growth.

Ready to Align Your IT with Your Business Goals?

At Fluid IT, we don't just offer IT solutions; we provide a partnership that aligns with and supports your business objectives. Contact us today to discover how we can be more than your MSP – we can be your strategic business ally in a world where technology and business goals should go hand in hand.

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