It’s not a surprise many MSPs are having a tough time finding reliable outsourcing partners in our industry. While there are plenty of solutions for you as an MSP to choose from, there’s also a lot of consumer confusion. Not all outsourcing providers are created equal. Before deciding on an outsourcing partner, there are some key characteristics you should consider when looking to alleviate your company’s help desk woes.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge on how outsourcing partners should interact with MSPs and where outsourcing providers go wrong. There are four key questions MSPs should consider when evaluating outsourcing providers for their help desk.
Is the outsourcing solution affordable?
One of the reasons why you’re probably looking to outsource your help desk is you’d like to save some money (and, of course, there’s no harm in that), but if that’s the case, why go with a provider charging you more than you can afford? Doesn’t make much sense, right? It’s important that your outsourcing partner is able to meet you where you are at with your budget. What would be the point of outsourcing your help desk if it would be cheaper to keep it all in-house?
When you’re reviewing potential outsourcing partners, always pay close attention to their pricing models. How do they charge customers? For instance, are they using endpoint-based pricing models? Many MSPs are using this approach; however, some MSPs using endpoint-based pricing models are seeing their fixed fee margins eroding.
Other companies are using what we call the traditional hiring-by-proxy model. For example, these providers are purely a hiring service, so they’ll hire one person for you in India or the Philippines, but all the responsibility of quality, training and management is left up to you. Sure, you’ll save a few bucks on staff, but what’s the point if you’re still not able to focus on growing your MSP? This approach doesn’t solve the problem many MSPs face—an inability to scale up due to staffing gaps.
We at Benchmark 365 provide you with an entire team and handle the HR, the training, the motivation and career path, so you can focus entirely on your sales and core business at a much lower price point than you could possibly do yourself.
How accessible is the outsourcing partner’s management team?
The majority of MSPs are small in size, so they’re not all that familiar with the corporate structure of a large outsourcing company. Does the solution provider you’re considering have a model in place where you’d have access to management and MSP expertise? If not, you may want to look elsewhere. You don’t want to jump through hoops to get an answer to a simple question.
Find an outsourcing provider with an interest in helping your business scale and grow. Before I started Benchmark 365, I was having a difficult time with scaling my MSP. One of the things I learned from my experience is the following: The top of the organization needs to show an interest in scaling and growing your MSP. To ensure the outsourcing provider you’re sitting down with is looking out for you and your business, ask about the organization’s structure and whether you’ll have access to management personnel.
What happens when you grow?
Your outsourcing partner needs to be flexible with you, especially when you’re growing. For example, don’t allow your outsourcing partner to lock you into a single approach for the next year or two. MSPs are changing so rapidly that it’s difficult for anyone to predict the amount of work they’ll be doing 6-12 months from now. Finding a partner with the ability to scale up or down on demand is important.
At Benchmark 365, we believe you shouldn’t be stuck in a lock-in contract, so we work with our partners on an ongoing basis to deliver a great service based on their needs. We believe in this: If our solutions work well for our customers, they’ll stick around.
Does the outsourcing partner understand the MSP model?
Sadly, not every outsourcing solution understands the MSP model, so it’s important for you to do your homework and ask the right questions ahead of time. You should always seek references and testimonials of similar sized MSPs who’ve outsourced with the outsourcing provider you’re in discussions with. You should also try to understand exactly what outsourcing services the company provides. Does it offer, NOC services, project services, and sales and marketing support? Also, don’t be afraid to dig a bit deeper to find out if the potential partner you’re considering can tell you the difference between outsourcing NOC work and outsourcing customer support. If not, look for another solutions provider.
Finding the right outsourcing partner for your help desk isn’t easy, but there are characteristics you should look for when researching potential partners. Yes, price matters, but more importantly, pay close attention to pricing models. Don’t forget to ask questions about flexibility and accessibility. Finally, dig deep to determine whether the outsourcing provider you’re researching understands the backbone of the MSP model.