How do you choose the right managed services provider (MSP)? And, how do you determine which managed services you need to achieve your business objectives?
In this article, we have shared some of the widely-adopted managed services that fund managers are employing and outlined actionable tips to help you navigate the MSP evaluation process.
Define Your Priorities
Before you select an IT partner, registered investment advisors (RIAs) should define their priorities first and then begin the vetting process.
Whether you aim to improve efficiency and focus on strategic planning by outsourcing IT management responsibilities, realize increased transparency into the security of your environment, ensure that your business meets compliance requirements, or a combination of multiple goals, allow these objectives to guide your decision.
Let’s evaluate a few managed IT services and their associated benefits to help you determine which software solutions align with your goals.
End-User IT Support
Is your current IT team in a perpetually reactive state troubleshooting a relentless stream of technical questions? The constant influx of tickets can consume precious time and waning resources.
To reach new levels of efficiency, fully-managed IT support for both your end-users and IT infrastructure will allow you to focus on business activity and strategic projects to drive revenue growth.
Consider evaluating an MSP that provides 24/7/365 support, allowing end-users to communicate directly with certified engineers across a range of technologies. IT Support can also provide increased visibility into all service activities, often using a ticketing system to track the status of cases. Over time, dedicated help desks can reduce the number of tickets through identifying common frustrations and applying recommended solutions to eliminate similar tickets future-forward.
Scalable Resourcing & SMEs
Expanding on the realm of support, perhaps your investment firm requires additional subject matter experts (SMEs) who can augment your internal IT team to suit arising projects or emerging challenges.
With Scalable Resourcing services, SMEs that are well-versed in a variety of disciplines can assist with networking, systems, storage, virtualization and security. These experts assess your current technology needs, develop a plan to address those unique requirements, deploy innovative technology and provide you with additional technical support. Since registered investment advisors are subject to cyber sweeps and various regulations, partnering with an IT provider who has experience in your industry, or specializes in your area, is recommended.
When assessing providers, consider inquiring about:
- Established partnerships with other technology vendors
- Have they worked with similar organizations in terms of size, scope and industry?
- What is their knowledge of historical and recent regulations concerning investment advisors?
- Can the MSP connect you to a customer reference or offer testimonials?
- Has the company received industry awards for IT services?
- What technical certifications do their engineers hold?
A well-established MSP has demonstrable proof of exemplary service over several years of experience and a low customer churn rate. You can typically find a list of services on the company’s website; however, requests for proposals (RFPs) provide more in-depth information around solutions, technologies and systems.
Reliable and Effective IT Operations
Efficient IT Operations is one of the fundamental reasons that startups and established hedge funds need Managed IT Services.
Modern technologies and thoughtful processes coupled with all-day coverage, service availability, incident management and remediation, data protection, real-time device and application maintenance, and monitoring the health and efficiency of your environment are just some of the several advantages that IT Operations offers.
Contrary to popular misconception, these solutions do not replace your in-house IT staff; rather, it augments your team to bolster capabilities. These services ultimately translate into maximized uptime, enhanced profitability, increased agility, and safeguarded data for fund managers.
It is important to understand if the MSP utilizes a reactive or proactive support model. Reactive support is known as break-fix: when an issue occurs, they conduct problem-solving on the fly. On the other hand, proactive service performs continuous monitoring of your environment and has support available 24x7x365 to preemptively identify and address problems before they can affect operations or cause disruption. An ideal solution takes a holistic approach and may blend the two models for optimal coverage.
Migrating operations to the cloud empowers customers with numerous benefits, including reduced costs and increased agility, collaboration, productivity and optimized processes. Family offices that are planning to transition into an RIA, as well as established registered investment advisors, typically consider cloud solutions and IT platforms that are purpose-built for these customers to help address regulatory challenges and compliance requirements.
MSPs offer various managed cloud services, such as hybrid cloud, private cloud and public cloud business models. The public cloud is inherently elastic and offers sophisticated cloud computing capabilities, which makes it an ideal environment for fund managers. Furthermore, businesses can now perform artificial intelligence workloads and complex algorithms without needing massive computing power that these workloads require.
Cloud providers that design solutions on the foundation of enterprise platforms, such as Microsoft Azure, can use built-in cybersecurity risk management features to mitigate your company’s risk exposure and better protect sensitive business information.
Business Continuity and Security
Can you afford to have an MSP that does not employ business continuity planning in the event of a disaster or pandemic? Disaster recovery planning ensures off-site redundancy to avoid data loss due to an accident or significant disruption. This should include a backup and restoration schedule to prevent any data loss, and testing should be performed regularly.
Consider asking the service provider if they are backing up to their data center facilities or utilizing another provider’s colocation. If the case is the latter, you may need to perform further due diligence regarding the MSP’s third-party provider. Additionally, there should be corrective post-disaster recovery methods in place, so it’s clear how the business will move forward to remediate any disaster fallout.
As business continuity relates to cybersecurity, it is essential to analyze the MSP’s cybersecurity compliance and risk management services, managed threat protection, and end-user security awareness training, to determine if they satisfy business requirements and regulatory demands.
Many elements will shape how you determine the right IT service management model and provider for your business. However, defining your goals and dedicating some time to decide which IT services you need are an excellent starting point and make the process less intimidating.