(Gawkwire) – Utilizing service consultants for outsourcing business processes or technical services has become a common practice in our tech-driven times. Basically, an outside agency, like Syntax managed services will be hired to take over an entire process or service in order to manage it on a client’s behalf.

But not all providers are created equal. With the influx of managed services emerging to answer to the growing IT needs of today’s businesses, it has become paramount that providers meet a stringent set of standards in order to ensure that client’s IT infrastructure needs are handled with the utmost precision, safety and expertise.

If you are shopping for a managed services provider, here are 5 key areas to focus on when making your decision:

– Cost – Ask your potential provider if they can provide an ROI model that will allow you to determine what you will be getting versus what you are losing. If they cannot provide a predictive return on investment model for your outsourced process or service, a good idea is to provide a commitment to providing ROI as a benchmark after the contract is initiated. Then be prepared to open your processes a bit more so that they can receive the data necessary to make the comparison.

– Support – Ensure that you get a satisfactory service level model set up that fits your needs. There should be specific processes for support and outcomes for failure, and these should be discussed with internal stakeholders prior to meeting with managed service providers. Your provider should have the capability to support your growth and profitability goals, and have a clear support system based on your specific requirements delivered on premise, remotely or in the cloud.

Note that for MSP that provide services that originate overseas, continued training of approved contacts is a commitment that you will want to ask for in advance.

– Accountability –How the service provider handles information loss or unacceptable performance are critical aspects of you are doing business with. There are a host of examples that show that statistically, of the over 20 percent of information breaches within organizations that caused over 60 percent of security-related financial losses, the majority of the problems were caused by employees of onsite consulting firms. Ensuring that your provider has adequate training and hiring practices while you are negotiating, should allow you to rest more easily once the contract is signed.

– Compliance with Standards – It was only a decade ago that several Fortune 500 companies ran into problems when they outsourced portions of their work to family or other non-vetted service providers. Enron is a very good example. As a result, laws were changed to make it difficult for enterprise organizations to fail to comply with strict standards regarding performance. When looking at your providers, ensuring that they can comply with the same standards that are in place within your organization is a given. Asking them to verify competence in advance of signing the contract can be a very smart move.

– Ethics – Although ethics is normally further down the list of what to look for in a MSP, in an outsourcing relationship, the same set of drivers that cause your own employees to be engaged in a process or service are likely to motivate the employees of the provider that you are outsourcing to. Knowing in advance how a potential provider motivates their workers by spending time with them is a very solid way to gauge whether or not they have the capacity to drive both ethical and performance behavior that meets your standards.

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