How to Choose a Managed Services Vendor
As an IT service provider, choosing a vendor to partner with is a critical decision for your company and for your clients. There are many options available, but especially in the case of online backup, many are either flimsy consumer grade products or enterprise-level solutions that are too intensive and far exceed the budgets of your SMB clients.
Here are some guidelines to follow when looking for a profitable, cooperative partnership.
The most elemental requirement managed service providers need to look for is security. If your clients’ solution isn’t secure, it renders all the other features and functionalities moot. Look for security certifications such as SAS 70, HIPAA, or other qualifications that satisfy Sarbanes-Oxley requirements.
You need a managed services solution that is specifically for VARs, managed service providers, and other IT resellers. One way to gauge if your vendor is truly gung-ho about partnering is to evaluate their management tools.
It is critical that your solutions have detailed, organized reporting functionalities. For example, a management portal that allows you to not only manage your tools, but provide insights into your costs, profits, and client billing is critical to your experience with the software and can determine the success or failure of the solution as a whole.
Another critical element to look for is integrations with your remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional services automation (PSA) tools. Being able to incorporate any new services into your preexisting management tools just makes your entire management process smoother and less of a hassle.
The best way to ensure that a potential solution is profitable for your IT business is threefold: secure software, at a reasonable price, that you can sell. And it’s the sales component where your provider’s reseller program will have the most impact.
By offering a white label solution, your solution provider will allow you to make an impact on your bottom line right away. Some companies, such as Intronis, will format everything from the software, to an end-user website to marketing and sales collateral—all with your brand. A vendor who provides you with all the tools to resell their solution truly understands that their success is dependent on your success. These companies will make reselling their solution as easy as possible for MSPs.
With some providers, the conversation ends as soon as they have your credit card number. Look for a reseller program that provides training and enablement sessions. That way, a managed service provider will not only have a better understanding of the software and how to sell it, but they will ramp up quickly and make a profit faster too.
Furthermore, if your solution provider is the proprietary software owner, your support is going to be more thorough and robust because they built the product from the ground up. They will truly understand their software’s functionality inside and out.
A critical component of your success with a solution is the robustness of your vendor’s support team. We have all called a customer service line only to get a person on the other end of the line who is on the other side of the world. Overseas support cannot compete with onsite, U.S.-based customer support that truly speaks your language. Any company that outsources such a key component of the customer experience is doing their partners a major disservice.
In short, investigate your options critically. Be sure that your provider fulfills the three core elements of secure and reliable software, easy-to-use management and reporting tools, and a top-notch reseller program from rebrandable software to training to U.S.-based support.
With those three components in place, the solution you choose will most likely help your IT business earn a tidy profit.
Sam Gutmann is president and CEO of Intronis. Find Intronis partner program information here. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor’s 2010 Platinum sponsorship. Find all of Sam’s guest blogs here.