How To Collaborate With Managed IT Service Providers

by | Oct 10, 2023

Successfully collaborating with a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP) goes beyond merely signing an agreement. While this formalizes the partnership, the magic happens in the subsequent phases of collaboration, communication, and continuous improvement.

After sealing the deal, it’s crucial to foster a relationship with your MSP that is both productive and long-lasting. Here’s a comprehensive guide on collaborating effectively with an MSP after signing the dotted line.

1. Kick-Off Meeting

The first pivotal stage after the contract signing is the kick-off meeting. During this session, several key objectives are achieved:

  • Tone Establishment: This session lays the groundwork for future interactions, shaping the collaboration’s atmosphere.
  • Scope Clarity: It outlines the service scope for mutual understanding and alignment.
  • Contact Introduction: Key contacts from both sides are introduced, enhancing direct communication.
  • Timelines and Deliverables: In-depth talks cover project timelines, milestones, and deliverables, aiding expectation management.
  • Communication Framework: Communication preferences and protocols are established, promoting effective information exchange.

This meeting is the collaboration’s cornerstone, fostering understanding, streamlined communication, and partnership execution.

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2. Set Clear Expectations

Once the foundation has been laid with the kick-off meeting, the next crucial step involves setting clear and unified expectations for both parties involved. This is pivotal in maintaining transparency and harmony throughout the collaboration. The following aspects should be meticulously outlined:

  • Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly define tasks for your in-house IT team and the MSP, preventing overlaps and enhancing cooperation.
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs): Reinforce SLAs to uphold response and resolution commitments, holding the MSP accountable.
  • Reporting Framework: Set up a comprehensive reporting system to monitor progress. Specify report frequency and essential metrics. This ensures continuous insight into service status.

By setting these expectations precisely, both parties navigate the collaboration with a shared understanding of their respective roles and obligations. 

3. Foster Open Communication

Open communication forms the bedrock of a productive and harmonious collaboration. To nurture this, consider the following streamlined approaches:

Regular Check-ins: Schedule regular check-in calls, held either weekly or bi-weekly. These sessions are dedicated opportunities to delve into project updates, address emerging challenges, and outline forthcoming strategies.

Encourage Feedback: Foster an environment where both parties can easily share feedback. By upholding an open-door policy, minor concerns can be promptly addressed, mitigating the risk of their escalation into major impediments. This proactive stance enhances the partnership’s fluidity and effectiveness.

4. Document Everything

Documentation stands as a pivotal reference point, minimizing miscommunication and upholding alignment. Streamline this practice with the following essentials:

Service Records: Document every service call, change, or update meticulously. This practice not only aids in tracing and addressing issues but also reinforces accountability for actions taken.

Change Management: For any system or software alterations, maintain comprehensive documentation. This should encompass the rationale, potential impact, and resulting outcomes. Such records provide clarity and facilitate informed decision-making.

5. Leverage their Expertise

One of the inherent advantages of collaborating with Managed IT Service Providers (MSPs) is their extensive knowledge and experience. This reservoir can significantly augment your operational capabilities and outcomes.

Training Sessions: Capitalize on their expertise by requesting training sessions for your team on new software or technologies. This empowers your staff with updated skills, optimizing productivity.

Consultation: Tap into the MSP’s insights when contemplating IT projects or upgrades. Their consultation can be pivotal in making well-informed decisions and maximizing project success.

6. Periodic Reviews

While maintaining consistent communication through regular check-ins is pivotal, integrating periodic reviews into your collaborative approach provides a broader outlook.

Performance Reviews: Conducive to sustained success, these reviews assess the MSP’s performance vis-à-vis their Service Level Agreements (SLAs). 
Scrutinize whether their commitments are fulfilled, ensuring the partnership remains mutually beneficial and aligned with expectations.

Strategic Planning: Beyond the immediate horizon, these discussions delve into future IT strategies. Ensuring that your IT infrastructure evolves along with your business is paramount. Engaging in strategic conversations guarantees that your technological framework keeps pace and synergizes with your ever-changing business landscape.

7. Address Concerns Promptly

In any partnership, concerns will arise. How you handle them can make or break the collaboration.

Problem-Solving Framework: Vital for resolution, a structured approach to handling concerns should be in place. This systematic framework should prioritize solutions, ensuring issues are methodically identified and effectively addressed.

Avoid the Blame Game: In times of difficulty, resist the temptation to allocate blame. Instead, channel energy into comprehending the underlying issues causing the challenge. The partnership remains fortified and growth-oriented by focusing on root causes and collaboratively devising solutions.

8. Ensure Security

Undoubtedly, data security takes precedence, necessitating a joint approach to uphold its integrity.

Regular Audits: Safeguarding data mandates regular security audits to guarantee adherence to stringent data protection regulations. This practice not only confirms compliance but also identifies areas for improvement.

Continuous Monitoring: Harness the capabilities of the MSP’s tools and resources to maintain vigilant, round-the-clock surveillance against potential threats. This proactive stance minimizes vulnerabilities and fortifies your defense against evolving security challenges.

9. Encourage Continual Learning

In an ever-evolving IT environment, staying current demands an ongoing commitment to learning.

Training: Guarantee that the MSP facilitates training sessions covering emerging technologies and updates. This ongoing education empowers both sides to remain at the forefront of industry advancements.

Conferences and Seminars: Embrace the prospect of jointly attending IT conferences or seminars. Beyond being a bonding experience, these events provide valuable insights, fostering a shared understanding of industry trends and innovative solutions.

10. Celebrate Successes

Finally, like any relationship, it’s essential to celebrate the wins.

Acknowledge Milestones: When reaching significant project milestones, take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate these achievements. This practice reinforces the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.

Annual Reviews: Conclude each year with comprehensive reviews encompassing successes and learnings. This reflection acknowledges accomplishments and sets the groundwork for an even more prosperous year ahead.


Collaborating with a Managed IT Service Provider doesn’t end with contract signing. It’s an ongoing relationship that requires effort, understanding, and mutual respect.  You can ensure a prosperous and long-lasting partnership with your MSP by fostering open communication, setting clear expectations, and celebrating joint successes.  As you navigate this partnership, remember the shared goal: leveraging technology to drive business success.

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