Managed Services

How to Know You’re Ready for a MSP—and How to Assess What Makes a Great One

Chaz Hager November 30 2023

Whether you started digital transformation before the pandemic, or were catapulted into it during the shutdown, it’s never been more apparent that as technology only continues to grow and expand, managing it is growing more and more complex too.  

Many businesses, large and small, have turned to outsourcing their IT and technology management to MSPs: Managed Service Providers. So many that in 2022, the global managed services market was valued at almost 279 US dollars and is expected to surpass 400 billion USD by 2026. 

MSPs can give small-to-medium-sized businesses a distinct leg up, as they offer a chance to compete with not only your peers but larger-sized companies too, a deep bench of experience, improved user experience, greater security and decreased risk, and better-controlled costs.  

But if you’re on the fence about partnering with a MSP, how do you know you’re ready and how do you assess what sets apart a great MSP? 

Questions to Ask to Determine If You’re Ready for a MSP 

How big and how complicated is your current IT infrastructure?

Do you have a solid inventory of it today? Would it be easy to know when your software licenses and registrations are up for renewal and when maintenance needs to be completed? If you either currently rely on technology heavily, or plan to continue your digital transformation journey, and have a complex network of systems and devices, a MSP can help streamline your operations and ensure everything is well-maintained. Because they have such extensive experience, they have the expertise and ability to handle even the most complicated and intricated infrastructure. 

What are your security needs?

Cybercrime is up 600% since the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to Accenture’s Cost of Cybercrime study, 43% of attacks are targeted at small businesses, but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves. Partnering with a reputable MSP will help ensure cybersecurity is a top priority at all times for your business; they’ll be on top of measures including regular vulnerability assessments, data encryption protocols, robust firewalls, employee training, and data recovery plans, so your sensitive business and customer information remains safeguarded from threats, even new and emerging ones. 

What is your IT team’s current bandwidth?

Are they spending the majority of their time reacting to technical issues and struggling with downtime? It’s common for IT teams, especially at SMBs, to be overburdened—often with routine support tasks. Technology is only going to continue to grow too, which means the work isn’t going anywhere—unless you outsource it to a MSP, who can help you and your team get proactive, provide monitoring and maintenance services, minimize your team’s workload, and ensure the entire company is able to be more productive. 

How is your IT budget currently allocated and how would you like it to be?

For one, hiring in-house IT staff can be expensive, especially when resources are limited. A MSP can be a surprisingly cost-effective solution, providing access to a deeply experienced team of skilled professionals through a flexible service plan that makes your IT spend more consistent and predictable. And then there’s all the hidden costs—like how much are you spending reacting to and fixing things as quickly as possible when they break, and how much are you allocating towards innovation and investing in the future of the business? What would a data breach of your customers information cost you? A stellar MSP can not only help you control your costs, but they can also help act as an advisor through your technology budgeting process.    

What are your plans for scale?

Speaking of innovation and growth, do you have plans for your business to continue to grow and scale? What role will technology play in that? No matter how technology-driven your growth will be, as your business grows, the technology you use and rely on will only grow with you. Bringing in outside experts can help you plan that scale so you can adapt and grow flexibly, without hassle or ballooning costs.

How to Recognize a Great MSP 

Once you’re ready, outsourcing your IT may still feel like a big step—a bit like you’re handing over the keys to your kingdom—so you want to be sure you have the right partner at your side. When you do find the right partner though, they can be invaluable. Here are six signs of a truly great MSP: 

      1. They watch your bottom line with and for you.

        An experienced MSP has helped many companies embark on digital transformations, no matter how small. They’re there to guide you and will help you identify where to make investments and where to save, using technologies like automation and standardization to help you carve out efficiencies and savings—so you can realize ROI as you modernize your technology. 

  1. They flex and scale with you too.

    With Managed Services, you co-design a services agreement for networking, ongoing security, and IT support, for example. You make one monthly payment and shift much of your IT budget to an operational expense, eliminating large capital expenses and incremental costs. A great MSP will be flexible with your agreement, allowing you to scale your services contract up and down according to needs and budget, and will offer you predictable pricing, reduced overall costs, and improved cash flow.  

  2. They inspire and inform innovation.

    As technology continues to rapidly shift and evolve—empowering businesses to achieve more than ever—the question sophisticated, future-oriented businesses are asking is this: how can technology add value and power innovation in my business? A stellar MSP is informed on new and emerging technologies, and they can help advise, test, prototype, and analyze implementing modern technology in your business to empower productivity and unlock more value for your business and your customers alike. 

  3. They ensure your customer experiences are great.

    Every single one of us is growing accustomed to technology’s omnipresence in our lives, as well as the convenience and ease it can provide. A great MSP will be thinking of your customer as theirs, ensuring technology is delivering a great experience for them—whether it’s fast and reliable wi-fi connections, a smooth, easy-to-navigate ecommerce experience, or even simply a timely response to their email through your customer portal or website.

  4. They help your employees stay productive—and happy.

    Laggy networks, clunky systems, and outdated devices can not only hinder your employees’ ability to do their jobs, but it can also have a tremendous impact on their job satisfaction, even leading them to quit. A great MSP knows this and can help you plan for how to outfit and refresh your employees’ tech, while keeping your budget in mind too.

  5. They don’t drop the ball on regulatory compliance or security.

    A great MSP should do everything above, while making sure you’re meeting data management and integrity, regulatory, and security standards. 


Technology has the ability to empower your business to unlock your fullest potential—but not managing it well also can do the opposite. Thankfully, the growth of managed services means you don’t have to go it alone and you can find a reliable and reputable partner who can also add tremendous value to your business, while remaining cost-effective.  

At Northriver IT, we are passionate about helping people grow in the way they work, the way they live, and the way they play. We help our customers securely communicate, collaborate, and connect with reliability and ease. We redesign networks to meet desired outcomes and proactively manage equipment so it works for you, all the time, every time. Guided by our five core values—Empower, Ownership, Agility, Quality, and Respect—the team at Northriver IT plays to our strengths so your team can play to yours.   

Schedule a call with us, so we can get to know you a little and chat about how we could serve you and your business needs. 




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