IT managed services providers can help businesses boost ROI by up to 433%. If your technology systems don’t operate at peak performance, you are most likely losing big potential profits. Considering that the managed industry is expected to reach nearly $300 billion in size by 2023, choosing a firm that will provide real value for your business seems like a daunting task. Not anymore. We explored the managed services market using comprehensive criteria to curate a list of the best providers. Scroll down to see our unbiased ranking and discover actionable tips to help you choose the right IT partner for your business.
We developed a comprehensive evaluation methodology to source the best global IT service firms. We looked for companies that deliver the full power of technology in a user-friendly manner, helping businesses maintain peak performance.
We compared hundreds of top managed service providers against our evaluation criteria, including scope and type of services, level of expertise, adherence to the industry’s best practices, and security procedures. We completed the evaluation by examining user satisfaction, customer support, and pricing policy to curate an unbiased list of world-class firms.
What follows is a detailed explanation of the criteria we employed to rank the best providers.
We divide the companies into three categories depending on their offerings and system support. Generally speaking, there are three categories of outsourced IT services: lower, mid, and high level, with a more detailed explanation available below. Note that this step doesn’t affect the ranking, only serves for classification purposes.
Lower-level, or also known as pure-play managed IT service providers, cover the most basic needs, mainly evolving around networking infrastructure. They limit their services to ensuring that all the technology is running smoothly, without taking responsibility for other business concerns and IT planning.
These providers offer tasks such as software installation, integration into existing infrastructures, monitoring the performance of the network and the applications running through the system, and alerting. Some lower MSPs may also provide storage services, as well as security and software testing specialists. In the case of a problem, these managed service providers companies notify the client of the potential issues or danger signs without taking further action. It is up to the customer to take precautionary measures and protect their business from potential threats.
Typical clients of low-level MSPs are SMEs with understaffed IT departments, busy working on major and more critical projects, or those concentrated on non-infrastructure core competencies.
Mid-level MSPs are better known as value-added MSPs since they provide a broader range of IT services and take greater responsibility. These managed IT service providers move beyond installation, upgrades, monitoring, and alerting. They provide full technical support along with a wide range of IT services. These companies excel at data recovery, disaster recovery, software maintenance and updates, and scalability planning.
Once the provider installs a software system for a client, its team will closely monitor the software’s performance and immediately take action in the case of a problem. These managed services provider companies solve all threats and issues as they appear, taking care of their clients’ biggest IT concerns.
Mid-level MSPs may cater to companies of various sizes. Their client base usually ranges from mid-sized businesses to enterprise-level organizations, including Fortune 500 or 1000 companies.
High-level MSPs are a one-stop-shop for all outsourced IT needs. At this level, clients get the full spectrum of traditional services offered by mid-level MSPs. These companies might also offer expertise and support in data analytics, communication services, wireless network, application handling, and more.
Some high-level managed service providers may further provide access to high-tech computer networking systems and software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs for a flat subscription fee. Generally speaking, the services depend on how much the customer is willing to pay. Clients get to choose from different levels of expertise, support, and responsibilities, tailored to their needs and budgets.
For clients with bigger budgets, high-level IT managed services companies can turn into an extension of the in-house department. Providers can take care of their entire technological identity, from hardware and storage to security and packaged application suites. These offerings could benefit businesses that have outgrown their in-house team and need to outsource cost-effective IT support to optimize their operations.
The demand for various personalized managed solutions continues to grow, and the market responds with many different types of firms that provide them. We take this into account for the purposes of classification, without applying it in the ranking process. Depending on your business needs, you might want to hire a provider that offers specific services.
Scroll down to explore your options.
MSPs offer a variety of services to support clients’ networking and infrastructure needs, including processes for WANs, LANs, and other areas of the system. Depending on the level of IT support you outsourced from a managed services company, you might get one or more of the following networking and infrastructure services from the provider:
Saving you the effort to hire in-house tech staff to handle software and hardware setup, some MSPs will send their teams to take care of this step. In most cases, locally-oriented MSPs or those with offices across various geographic sites provide infrastructure setup, among other services.
Employees tied to their desks are a thing of the past. Nowadays, many people work on the go using their laptops and phones. A managed solutions provider can take the burden off your everyday IT management and increase your overall productivity by allowing your team to access data securely on any wireless device from any location.
Cloud consulting companies offer a variety of managed cloud solutions. These services allow businesses to tap into a powerful cloud computing system where IT professionals provide teams with a secure platform to hold meetings and collaborate on projects.
By outsourcing print management services from IT managed services providers, your business can cut printing costs by up to 30%. These services include analyzing your current printing infrastructure, monitoring, managing, and optimizing your total output, including a strategy to reduce costs and environmental footprint. These services put authorized personnel in charge of all printing activities on the company network, no matter the location.
Instead of spending significant amounts of money on new hardware and software systems, managed IT service providers offer storage and backup services that you can order as your business evolves. Your staff can upload data and update tasks from anywhere while a dedicated provider protects and preserves your information, runs regular backups, and has strategic disaster recovery plans in case of emergency.
Third-party managed IT services companies can increase the security of your systems with a broad spectrum of management and risk prevention services. These solutions allow you to lessen the workload of your in-house staff for a fraction of the cost. Having a cyber security expert watching over your computer system will keep your business safe from data breaches. Some of the most valuable security management services include:
IT managed services companies can install software programs on your business computer system to ensure maximum security and eliminate threats. Today’s advanced malware can’t be stopped with average skills, meaning you need effective anti-malware software to protect your business from attacks that could result in the loss of money, time, and reputation.
Intelligent patch management ensures that your software is updated regularly and works accurately, so no viruses or hackers can enter the system. You can significantly reduce the hefty cost associated with unauthorized network resource use, data theft and destruction by keeping your software at the latest level of patch compliance.
Another critical aspect of security management covered by managed IT services companies is ensuring that all the company’s hardware elements and software systems are fully integrated and work in sync.
Firms outsource managed communication services to improve their business operations and cut unnecessary costs. These services include unified communication, VoIP (voice over IP), and email. Firms opt for cloud-based communication management to gain mobile access to unified platforms and make daily interactions more effective. Communication management includes support in the following categories:
Managed services providers might offer services that enhance staff collaboration. These services allow teams to exchange data on any device, including computers, laptops, and mobile devices from any location. They help organizations optimize their business activities by seamlessly integrating systems with partners, suppliers, and customers. Managed data sharing services offer real-time availability of all relevant information.
Without a reliable voice network, your business could risk downtime, dropped calls, and busy lines that frustrate both employees and customers. Having a managed IT service provider take care of your voice communication trims costs and ensures that your voice system works at peak performance. These services can also enhance communication between employees, allowing them to talk to each other through mobile devices and PCs from any location.
Firms can completely outsource video conferencing, with a team of experts handling the entire process to maximize value. These services allow colleagues to hold and attend conferences from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection.
IT managed services providers can offer SaaS for a monthly or yearly subscription. Unlike on-premises options, clients can utilize these applications as soon as they subscribe. These services lower the implementation cost, reduce the time needed to get to the benefits, and make the installation and administration expenses predictable.
SaaS doesn’t necessarily need to be developed by the vendor. In some cases, IT service provider companies sell third-party products to businesses. No matter the ownership, the vendor is responsible for its maintaining, upgrades, and security, allowing clients’ IT staff and other employees to focus on business. By using SaaS, you can rest assured that your programs are up to date, fully functional, and safe to use at any time.
Raw data alone can’t take you to the right decisions while analyzing data is a long process, particularly challenging for non-IT firms. In today’s competitive, data-driven digital economy, businesses can get ahead by outsourcing analytics technology and expert analytical thinking.
Top managed services providers that specialize in data analytics can help companies uncover actionable insights from their data with a mix of modern analytics tools and procedures. These offerings might include everything from examination to investigations of patterns. The data experts can translate your data into an easy-to-understand form that shows patterns, trends, issues, etc. helping you plan future actions with confidence.
MSP companies offer different levels of managed support services, from ad-hoc support to on-going and emergency support. Their goal is to deliver program management with no compatibility issues along with low to no learning curve for the end-user. Businesses outsource support services to gain access to IT specialists with first-hand expertise of their systems, increase the reliability of their programs while knowing that each problem will be quickly solved.
When employees face issues associated with system programs, protocols, or prompts, they can contact the support center of the IT MSP for help. The MSP’s team will then solve the matter and ensure that everything is running smoothly.
Checking companies’ reputation is a crucial step in our ranking methodology process. We start with sourcing verified MSP reviews on social media, business directories, and elsewhere on the internet. Real-client testimonials help us rate the quality of service and customer satisfaction. In this step, we also take notice of each firm’s biggest assets and consider them in the overall ranking.
We then examine each firm’s virtual presence and the clients they manage services for, to determine the depth of their expertise. We also look for potential issues that tend to repeat. We further examine whether the IT managed services providers have taken the time to address these issues and how effective their solutions were.
Finally, we consider peer recommendations, industry awards, and other recognitions that indicate a good reputation. To provide an unbiased list of the best firms, we check how these acknowledgments measure up against their past results.
With new technology trends cropping up on a daily basis, companies’ in-house infrastructures struggle with the latest demands of social, mobile, big data, and cloud platforms. Outsourcing IT services allows you to have a dedicated IT backbone and enjoy a wide range of tech benefits at affordable prices. You, therefore, need skilled IT managed services companies that can take care of different IT aspects as your business grows.
To ensure that the firms provide a high level of expertise, we check and make sure that they:
We employ our custom evaluation methodology to examine hundreds of managed IT providers for their level of expertise and shortlist only the ones that tick all the boxes.
We then check whether each MSP upholds the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL is a detailed framework of best practices for delivering IT services. Currently consisting of five books, the ITIL is designed to align the operation of IT service management companies with the industry’s best practices and business needs.
Managed IT services companies that uphold the ITIL can manage risk better, establish cost-effective practices, build a stable IT environment that allows growth and strengthen client relations. These organizations typically demonstrate better overall quality of service and higher customer satisfaction.
We, therefore, made sure to include only companies that fully employ the industry’s best practices suggested by the ITIL.
Once we shortlist the best MSP companies based on what we discussed so far, we then ask each firm for security certifications and other third-party accreditation. These can include but are not limited to ISO 27001 (for information management systems) and ISO 9001 (for quality management systems). We then examine if the MSPs have adopted some of the business continuity standards and other measures that help keep up with the latest regulatory and industry regulations.
We end up by examining their security procedures, including the safety of the environments in which they handle client data. Given the rising number of cyberattacks, we give a boost in ranking to service provider companies that make client security their top priority. As a result, only companies that work in highly protected environments have made our list.
Before sealing the deal with one of the top MSP companies, you should know how much their support will cost you. There are six common pricing models for this type of services:
These options are worth knowing since the pricing model might influence your final decision.
Note that we didn’t choose the cheapest or the most expensive IT managed services providers on the market but focused on firms that fall within the industry standards. You don’t want to go cheap with a company that will have access to your data. Paying unreasonably high rates, however, doesn’t guarantee the best service either. That’s why we compared the value these firms provide for the price they charge. Our goal is to present you with cost-effective solutions that give the best value for your investment.
While we laid out the best companies and explained our ranking process, our job doesn’t end there. To make sure that you’ll choose an MSP that will optimize your operations, leverage the risk, and maintain your performance at the top, we prepared actionable tips for hiring the best firm.
Start with evaluating your existing IT infrastructure and take notice of the areas you want to improve. Write down your weakest points, the areas most at risk, any particular services that you might need, etc.
At this point, you need to get clear about what you have and what you need. Then use these notes to discuss the services and solutions with different IT MSP companies. Cover all areas of concern with the MSP representatives and shortlist the companies that offer specific solutions for your needs.
Some MSPs have specific industry focus making them a perfect fit for businesses looking for an outfit with a profound understanding of the area they operate in. You should examine past and present clients to determine which firms offer the industry-specialized knowledge you need. You can further explore their capabilities by reading reviews and industry-related case studies.
Most IT service providers showcase a list of past projects on their websites or have listed references for first-hand testimonials. You can also ask MSP consultants how they’ve helped past clients with needs similar to yours.
Think of the MSP as an extension of your in-house departments. These individuals will be involved in your daily operations, so cultural alignment between you and the managed IT services provider is crucial.
If the provider has offices near you, take the time to meet as many people as possible before sealing the deal to get an idea of the culture they nurture in their office. How do they treat you and your staff? Are they using language that you understand or is there too much “geek speak” bogging down communication? You want to consider only IT providers that deliver high expertise along with pleasant experience.
Last but not least, determine how much money you are willing to spend on IT managed services providers, and remove the firms that don’t fall within your budget. Ideally, you’ll be left with a few options to choose from or one perfect match.