Having a managed service provider (MSP) onboard for your company’s IT requirements makes a lot of sense – but how can you be sure you’re choosing the right one?
Ultimately, many companies live or die by the reliability and security of their IT systems – so it’s a big risk allowing someone else to maintain those on your behalf. If you want to make sure you’re handing that responsibility to the right people, we’ve got 8 questions you might want to ask any potential MSP you meet with – 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
- “What would a Service Level Agreement look like for us?”
- “Can you Help us Scale quickly if the need arises?”
- “How Proactive is your Support?”
- “Have you Worked with other Companies like us?”
- “Will your Monthly Costs be fixed?”
- “Which Accreditations do you hold?”
- “What kind of Insurance do you hold?”
- “Could you Grow with us?”
(How-To) Choose Right Managed IT Service Provider
“What would a Service Level Agreement look like for us?”
Your service level agreement (SLA) is the cornerstone of an arrangement between your company and an MSP – and on that basis, it’s got to reflect your needs exactly.
Although the MSP you’re talking to is likely to have some solutions that’ll fit for many businesses – there’s no saying it’s exactly right for you – 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, you’ll find a solution that’s a perfect fit for your organization.
Discussion around your SLA is absolutely vital to creating and maintaining a good ongoing relationship that’s based on clear expectations – don’t consider working with an MSP that’s in any way vague or non-committal about their level of service to you.
“Can you Help us Scale quickly if the need arises?”
Adding to your IT system is rarely, if ever, a plug-it-in-and-watch-it-work kind of experience – 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 – and should involve details about how they’ve helped other customers in similar situations to you. Again, vague or ‘we’ll see how it plays out’ style answers just don’t work here – you need to know that when the time comes, your business growth is in good hands.
“How Proactive is your Support?”
As a business owner, you’re likely to be much more interested in hearing about solutions instead of problems – and that’s exactly what a world-class managed IT provider will offer.
In many cases, an MSP will be able to access your systems remotely – meaning that being on-call to monitor what’s happening with your network will often simply involve alerts pinging to a staff member’s mobile phone if there are any issues. If they do, networking technology will often allow for those issues to be remedied remotely too – so you’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, they’ll be the ones telling you about issues after they’ve fixed them – 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.
“Have you Worked with other Companies like us?”
There are significant benefits relating to experienced best practice when you’re dealing with an MSP instead of an in-house team – and one of those benefits is how frequently an MSP will tackle the kind of problems you’re likely to come up against.
Finding out if an MSP works with companies like yours is extremely helpful in working out whether they’ll be able to handle problems in the way you require. Of course, ‘companies like yours’ doesn’t necessarily mean in your industry, it could mean size, operating methods, geographical spread – etc.
Talk to your potential MSP about the experience they have and who they work with similar to you – then consider talking to those clients about their experience – testimonials will tell you a lot.
“Will your Monthly Costs be fixed?”
Your service level agreement is likely to outline the cost implication of your agreement – but it’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 – adding hardware, growing the network, setting up new locations, etc. – but it’s useful to know that in an average month your costs will be predictable.
“Which Accreditations do you hold?”
Having the right accreditation and certifications is absolutely vital for a good MSP – without them, they simply won’t have the level of working knowledge needed to maintain your systems safely.
Don’t worry – you’re not expected to know what they should carry – but you’ll get a feeling as to whether or not they’re capable of handling your systems based on how they talk to you about the qualifications their team has. If you’re using Microsoft servers and applications, you’ll expect them to hold Microsoft qualifications.
“What kind of Insurance do you hold?”
With luck, you’ll never need to go into detail about insurance with an MSP – 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. Don’t forget – data loss can often make more of a financial impact than losing your systems – to make sure they’re covered should they slip up and impact your business as a result.
“Could you Grow with us?”
Although growth might not be on your radar at the moment – it’s important to know that you’re not going to outgrow your MSP should you continue to build on your business success.
You’ll be able to get a feel for their ability to work with larger companies based on their current client list – but it never hurts to talk about where you see your business being in 10 years – or even in what you consider to be your most far-fetched daydreams – all businesses start somewhere, and the bigger they become, the more IT support they need.