Having a managed service provider (MSP) onboard for your companyâ€™s IT requirements makes a lot of sense â€“ but how can you be sure youâ€™re choosing the right one?
Ultimately, many companies live or die by the reliability and security of their IT systems â€“ so itâ€™s a big risk allowing someone else to maintain those on your behalf. If you want to make sure youâ€™re handing that responsibility to the right people, weâ€™ve 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
- â€œWhat would a Service Level Agreement look like for us?â€
- â€œCan you Help us Scale quickly if the need arises?â€
- â€œHow Proactive is your Support?â€
- â€œHave you Worked with other Companies like us?â€
- â€œWill your Monthly Costs be fixed?â€
- â€œWhich Accreditations do you hold?â€
- â€œWhat kind of Insurance do you hold?â€
- â€œCould you Grow with us?â€
(How-To) Choose Right Managed IT Service Provider
â€œWhat 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, itâ€™s got to reflect your needs exactly.
Although the MSP youâ€™re talking to is likely to have some solutions thatâ€™ll fit for many businesses â€“ thereâ€™s no saying itâ€™s 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, youâ€™ll find a solution thatâ€™s a perfect fit for your organization.
Discussion around your SLA is absolutely vital to creating and maintaining a good ongoing relationship thatâ€™s based on clear expectations â€“ donâ€™t consider working with an MSP thatâ€™s in any way vague or non-committal about their level of service to you.
â€œCan 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 theyâ€™ve helped other customers in similar situations to you. Again, vague or â€˜weâ€™ll see how it plays outâ€™ style answers just donâ€™t work here â€“ you need to know that when the time comes, your business growth is in good hands.
â€œHow Proactive is your Support?â€
As a business owner, youâ€™re likely to be much more interested in hearing about solutions instead of problems â€“ and thatâ€™s 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 whatâ€™s happening with your network will often simply involve alerts pinging to a staff memberâ€™s 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 youâ€™re not met with problems when you get into the office.
Talking to an MSP about how they handle problems is a good plan. Ideally, theyâ€™ll be the ones telling you about issues after theyâ€™ve 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.
â€œHave you Worked with other Companies like us?â€
There are significant benefits relating to experienced best practice when youâ€™re 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 youâ€™re likely to come up against.
Finding out if an MSP works with companies like yours is extremely helpful in working out whether theyâ€™ll be able to handle problems in the way you require. Of course, â€˜companies like yoursâ€™ doesnâ€™t 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.
â€œWill your Monthly Costs be fixed?â€
Your service level agreement is likely to outline the cost implication of your agreement â€“ but itâ€™s 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 itâ€™s useful to know that in an average month your costs will be predictable.
â€œWhich Accreditations do you hold?â€
Having the right accreditation and certifications is absolutely vital for a good MSP â€“ without them, they simply wonâ€™t have the level of working knowledge needed to maintain your systems safely.
Donâ€™t worry â€“ youâ€™re not expected to know what they should carry â€“ but youâ€™ll get a feeling as to whether or not theyâ€™re capable of handling your systems based on how they talk to you about the qualifications their team has. If youâ€™re using Microsoft servers and applications, youâ€™ll expect them to hold Microsoft qualifications.
â€œWhat kind of Insurance do you hold?â€
With luck, youâ€™ll 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. Donâ€™t forget â€“ data loss can often make more of a financial impact than losing your systems â€“ to make sure theyâ€™re covered should they slip up and impact your business as a result.
â€œCould you Grow with us?â€
Although growth might not be on your radar at the moment â€“ itâ€™s important to know that youâ€™re not going to outgrow your MSP should you continue to build on your business success.
Youâ€™ll 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.