Having a managed service provider (MSP) onboard for your companyâs IT requirements makes a lot of sense â but how can you be sure youâre choosing the right one?
Ultimately, many companies live or die by the reliability and security of their IT systems â so itâs a big risk allowing someone else to maintain those on your behalf. If you want to make sure youâre handing that responsibility to the right people, weâve got 8 questions you might want to ask any potential MSP you meet with â along with some indications of what you should be looking for in their answers.
Table of Contents
- (How-To) Choose Right Managed IT Service Provider
- âWhat would a Service Level Agreement look like for us?â
- âCan you Help us Scale quickly if the need arises?â
- âHow Proactive is your Support?â
- âHave you Worked with other Companies like us?â
- âWill your Monthly Costs be fixed?â
- âWhich Accreditations do you hold?â
- âWhat kind of Insurance do you hold?â
- âCould you Grow with us?â
(How-To) Choose Right Managed IT Service Provider
âWhat would a Service Level Agreement look like for us?â
Your service level agreement (SLA) is the cornerstone of an arrangement between your company and an MSP â and on that basis, itâs got to reflect your needs exactly.
Although the MSP youâre talking to is likely to have some solutions thatâll fit for many businesses â thereâs no saying itâs exactly right for you â so talk to them about the different elements that make up the agreement and, between your knowledge of your business and their knowledge of business IT, youâll find a solution thatâs a perfect fit for your organization.
Discussion around your SLA is absolutely vital to creating and maintaining a good ongoing relationship thatâs based on clear expectations â donât consider working with an MSP thatâs in any way vague or non-committal about their level of service to you.
âCan you Help us Scale quickly if the need arises?â
Adding to your IT system is rarely, if ever, a plug-it-in-and-watch-it-work kind of experience â and in fact, often involves a significant amount of design and skilled implementation.
Talking to any potential MSP about how they can help you scale is vital. Their answer should fill you with confidence â and should involve details about how theyâve helped other customers in similar situations to you. Again, vague or âweâll see how it plays outâ style answers just donât work here â you need to know that when the time comes, your business growth is in good hands.
âHow Proactive is your Support?â
As a business owner, youâre likely to be much more interested in hearing about solutions instead of problems â and thatâs exactly what a world-class managed IT providerÂ will offer.
In many cases, an MSP will be able to access your systems remotely â meaning that being on-call to monitor whatâs happening with your network will often simply involve alerts pinging to a staff memberâs mobile phone if there are any issues. If they do, networking technology will often allow for those issues to be remedied remotely too â so youâre not met with problems when you get into the office.
Talking to an MSP about how they handle problems is a good plan. Ideally, theyâll be the ones telling you about issues after theyâve fixed them â if they rely on you getting in touch to report problems, you might want to look at someone with a more sophisticated way of working.
âHave you Worked with other Companies like us?â
There are significant benefits relating to experienced best practice when youâre dealing with an MSP instead of an in-house team â and one of those benefits is how frequently an MSP will tackle the kind of problems youâre likely to come up against.
Finding out if an MSP works with companies like yours is extremely helpful in working out whether theyâll be able to handle problems in the way you require. Of course, âcompanies like yoursâ doesnât necessarily mean in your industry, it could mean size, operating methods, geographical spread â etc.
Talk to your potential MSP about the experience they have and who they work with similar to you â then consider talking to those clients about their experience â testimonials will tell you a lot.
âWill your Monthly Costs be fixed?â
Your service level agreement is likely to outline the cost implication of your agreement â but itâs worth asking how variable this is likely to be.
Of course, there are some things you might occasionally seek help with that are outside of the normal service remit â adding hardware, growing the network, setting up new locations, etc. â but itâs useful to know that in an average month your costs will be predictable.
âWhich Accreditations do you hold?â
Having the right accreditation and certifications is absolutely vital for a good MSP â without them, they simply wonât have the level of working knowledge needed to maintain your systems safely.
Donât worry â youâre not expected to know what they should carry â but youâll get a feeling as to whether or not theyâre capable of handling your systems based on how they talk to you about the qualifications their team has. If youâre using Microsoft servers and applications, youâll expect them to hold Microsoft qualifications.
âWhat kind of Insurance do you hold?â
With luck, youâll never need to go into detail about insurance with an MSP â but knowing they have adequate protection in place should there ever be an issue with your data or equipment is absolutely vital.
Talk to your potential MSP about the cover they hold and what that extends to should you experience any loss. Donât forget â data loss can often make more of a financial impact than losing your systems â to make sure theyâre covered should they slip up and impact your business as a result.
âCould you Grow with us?â
Although growth might not be on your radar at the moment â itâs important to know that youâre not going to outgrow your MSP should you continue to build on your business success.
Youâll be able to get a feel for their ability to work with larger companies based on their current client list â but it never hurts to talk about where you see your business being in 10 years â or even in what you consider to be your most far-fetched daydreams â all businesses start somewhere, and the bigger they become, the more IT support they need.