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Evaluating Potential MSP Partners - Making a Decision!

Nimble Global

Nimble Global

Piercing the Veil of Market Perception

Investing in a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a significant commitment of time, capital, and operational resources. As such, it's imperative that organizations delve beyond superficial indicators such as brand reputation, industry awards, and customer testimonials to truly understand the MSP they are considering as a partner. It's often said, "you don't know what you don't know," and nowhere is this truer than in the complex landscape of MSP partnerships.

The Mirage of Market Perception

While accolades, trade shows, and a glitzy portfolio of brand logos can be persuasive, these elements sometimes merely serve as a façade. In reality, internal dynamics, politics, and resource allocation can often differ greatly from the polished image portrayed in sales presentations and marketing collateral.

Pecking Order and Priorities

It's not uncommon for organizations to believe they will be top priority when engaging with an MSP. However, this belief can quickly evaporate when you find your project sidelined in favor of larger, more lucrative clients. Understanding and agreeing in writing where your organization fits in the MSP's 'pecking order' is essential to setting realistic expectations.

Key Considerations for Comprehensive Evaluation

Thorough evaluation of a potential MSP should involve a multi-faceted review that goes far beyond the initial sales pitch. Here is a non-exhaustive list of key considerations to evaluate:

Operational Expertise

  1. Analytics: Does the MSP have the tools and people expertise to provide actionable insights?

  2. Audit Management: How are compliance and quality audits conducted?

  3. Client and Executive Turnover: What is the stability in client and executive relations?

  4. Conflict of Interest: Any existing client-vendor relations that could affect your contract?

Financial Stability and Cost Management

  1. Escrow Financial Protection: Are there mechanisms to protect your financial investment? e.g., The millions paid each month to the supply chain via the MSP bank.

  2. Financial Controls: What internal controls are in place for financial management?

  3. Vendor Cost/Price Negotiation: Can the MSP effectively negotiate suplier/vendor terms? How do you know?

Innovation and Technology

  1. Program Innovation Roadmap: Is there a documented vision for technological advancement?

  2. Innovative Technology Partners: Does the MSP collaborate with cutting-edge technology providers?

Compliance and Governance

  1. Legislative Compliance: How well does the MSP adhere to laws and regulations?

  2. Tax Compliance: Is there a clear understanding of local and international tax liabilities?

  3. Invoice Compliance: Does the MSP understand what is required to ensure invoice compliance to jurisdictional law?

Service Delivery and Relationship Management

  1. Service Delivery Capacity Plan: Is there a well-defined plan for scaling operations?

  2. Stakeholder Engagement: How effective is the MSP in managing and engaging with stakeholders at all levels of your organization?

  3. Team Development: Is there a strong focus on internal talent development?

Supplier | Vendor Management

  1. Financial Sustainability: How financially stable are the MSP's primary supplier and vendors?

  2. Neutrality - Conflict-Free: Does the MSP provide unbiased supplier/vendor recommendations? What do the suppliers/vendors say about the MSP?

  3. Optimisation: Is there a strategy for maximising vendor performance and value?


Choosing an MSP is a complex decision that shouldn't be solely based on market reputation or sales pitches. By carefully evaluating an array of factors, from operational and financial stability to innovation and compliance, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your organization's specific needs and aspirations. This diligent approach not only minimizes risk but also sets the stage for a more synergistic and effective partnership.

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