Technology does not slow down for anyone. Keeping up to date on all the new innovations, the developments and evolution in technology is key to sustaining a competitive and successful business. For some businesses, that is best accomplished by hiring a managed IT Managed Service Provider (MSP).

Having that extra layer of support can do wonders for your business. It can provide a number of resources for you that were previously unavailable, allowing you to not only increase your technical know-how but also freeing up time to devote to other areas.

Still, MSPs aren’t for everyone. After all, it is essentially hiring on a whole cast of off-site helpers to ensure that your IT needs are met. An MSP may not be as present as a direct IT employee, but don’t be fooled by their absence – they’re working hard, and they don’t always come cheap. But their roles are sure to grow.

By 2022, 62% of all organizations will run 100% of their IT in the cloud, according to a survey by BetterCloud. Sure, migrating to the cloud will entail many benefits for companies, but moving won’t be without its difficulties, especially on the IT end of things. Data migration, new tech hurdles to overcome, security . . . it’s a lot to take in. And that’s just a single major technological leap we can expect to face in the near future, with plenty more on the way.

And according to another survey done by CompTia, more than a third of respondents said that their everyday IT tasks are handled by people whose primary responsibilities lie outside of IT. That means that with all these rapid tech shifts coming in the future, many companies don’t even have specialized employees tasked with adapting to these changes.

But then there’s the cost of an MSP, and the question if the outside help justifies that cost. Bearing that in mind, how do you know if hiring on an MSP is right for you?

We’ve compiled a list of five criteria to use when evaluating if a MSP is going to work for your business.

Determine the Cost

This is easier said than done. While some businesses have a simpler binary decision to make of whether to hire an on-site IT manager or outsource to an MSP, for many the decision is not so simple. For instance, if you’re looking to supplement your already existing IT infrastructure with MSPs, it becomes harder to determine just how much the extra help is saving you . . . or even if it is saving you money in the first place.

A few key ways to determine whether the MSP will benefit your balance sheet is to tally up costs associated with the IT department that an MSP will have a direct impact on. For instance, if your networks are prone to shutting off and that leaves your workers idle, with a few short calculations you should be able to estimate how much that’s costing you. If an MSP can fix that problem, then depending on the severity of the issue, it may already have paid for itself.

The key is knowing the benefits that an MSP provides, and then putting a dollar value on those benefits.

Security Is Big

One of the key add-ons that an MSP can provide is the added layer of security for your precious data. Consider that 155.8 million data records were compromised last year. Companies run on data in the modern business landscape, and most cannot afford to have their information compromised.

As such, it’s crucial that MSPs offer your company reassurance that its information will be safe with whichever MSP you elect to hire.

Have a Back-Up Plan

Security and keeping the IT section of your business in top form are all under the purview of the IT managed services, and any good MSP will be able to keep your business running smoothly . . . most of the time.

In the event that things do go awry, you want to make sure that you’re covered in every eventuality.

MSPs can provide you with solutions to your backup needs. After all, one of the biggest benefits to migrating your data to the cloud is the decentralization of your critical information. MSPs should be able to work out a detailed disaster recovery plan to ensure that no matter what hits – whether it’s a hurricane or a hacker – your data is safe, secure, and most importantly, can be easily recalled.

Support Is Key

You can have the best MSP in the world, but if they don’t offer the level of support that your company requires, then run in the opposite direction.

After all, great IT services aren’t going to cut it if you need constant availability from your MSP and it doesn’t offer that.

That’s why some businesses will need to find an MSP that has 24/7 services. Other companies can eschew this feature, but it’s up to you to determine if you want to be with an MSP that might be unavailable in the moment you need them most.

That’s not to say that this is a guaranteed deal breaker for all companies, but some definitely need that around-the-clock personal connection, and if that describes you and your business, then don’t settle for anything less.

Re-evaluate Your Managed Services Provider

Once you’ve found your MSP, the journey isn’t over.

This last item on the list is the most important: Determine that the MSP you have is the best one for you.

Sometimes, that means taking a look over the previous four items periodically. For instance, after a few weeks with the MSP, are you seeing a positive return on investment? Has their security system kept your data safe? Are they as available as you would like? Is their data recovery service as good as it can be?

These questions need to be constantly asked about your MSP. Don’t get complacent. Remember that an MSP is there to enhance your business. If you don’t feel that they’re providing you with everything you need, don’t be afraid to drop a provider and move on. MSPs can be extremely helpful, but at the end of the day, you have to make the decisions about what’s best for your company.