Goldilocks and the Managed Services Provider: Which IT Company is “Just Right”?


You’ve probably heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In some ways, small to medium-sized business are the same way. They find they have to test the waters in order to determine which technology partner is “just right”. Some businesses don’t have the budget to work with a Managed Services provider that charges thousands of dollars per month. Other businesses find that a massive IT company has the structure in place, but is lacking in personal support and strategy that they require. So, how do you know which size company is right for you? Explore a little about your philosophy by answering some questions to determine which MSP is “just right” for your business.

Big or small?
Part of the reason Goldilocks didn’t like Papa Bear’s chair is that it was too big and uncomfortable. A big name in IT is great from an authority standpoint. The expertise and infrastructure are incredible with regard to business improvements. But what expense does that come at? And how about the other end of the spectrum?  Sure, a personal resource can be great – but what about the tools that they need to execute support on your behalf for your employees? If you’re a small to medium-sized business you’re probably grappling with the idea of a single resource or a company. Take a moment to understand what tools a selected MSP can offer you. Ask yourself: can I live without them? Make sure that you understand what you lose by giving up those tools. What’s the risk you assume? To get these answers really undertstand where the gaps are and how to fill them, you’ll have to understand your approach to technology.

How do you approach technology?
Which mantra do you have with regard to your technology? Are you not so worried about innovation and business processes or do you need someone to completely customize your user experience with technology?

A.) Set it and forget it. I don’t like to deal with technology and don’t enjoy spending money on it. But I can’t afford for it to break. I need something that works that I don’t have to mess with and I’m sick of my system being down all the time.

B.) Blended approach with GREAT support. I can’t have my systems going down, and I need an integrated system to manage the tickets for my users (they’re savvy with a lot to say about how my technology is working). I may not have tens of thousands a month to spend, but I need quality support and proactive IT strategy that can be customized to my environment.

C.)  Innovation Nation with money to spend. I firmly believe that innovation is a key ingredient to the success of my business. I need someone who will look at our business processes from the ground up and help me customize them with technology for the growth. I also need seamless support. I have the budget required, I’m just not sure a large organization will provide me with the hands on strategy that I’m going to need.

D.) In-house Harry. I have a team of technicians, a CIO and a large department of managers that handle our IT. I have the money I need to build out the infrastructure and a CIO to handle everything. Every so often I bring in external consultants to help us determine that we’re going in the right direction, but for the most part – we’ve got this covered.

Understanding when it’s not a fit.
A really good MSP isn’t going to take every piece of business that falls in front of it. A mindset match has to occur, first. While you may not find that your business fits into any one of those categories, you need to take time to understand what your priorities are in order to make the decision for your business. You can test things out all you want, but if you have a different idea of what an MSP should provide or don’t want to invest the capital to get your organization’s technology to where it needs to be, you’ll never truly benefit from the MSP relationship. For example, our own company’s ideal client falls within the B and C range. If they are significantly larger they might require staff augmentation for projects or one-time consulting, but for the most part they have everything together. And the first option is likely not someone ready to invest in the level of services that most MSPs offer.

Just like Goldilocks, small to medium-sized businesses have a lot of options in front of them. It’s possible that they’ll need to test out different options and different companies before they take the next step. But I definitely encourage any company that is looking for a technology resource to do some serious introspection before they make a choice regarding their company’s technology.