When choosing a Managed Service Provider (MSP), it’s often beneficial to approach it less like finding a third-party vendor, and more like finding a business partner. When entrusting the management if your IT experts to an MSP, you need a company that offers the right resources, expertise, and strategic vision. Most of all, they need to understand your business and how they can help you leverage technology to reach your goals.
If you’re shopping around for an IT service provider, you can learn a lot by asking the right questions. Here are seven we think any reputable service provider should have no trouble answering.
How do you deliver and charge for managed services?
If you’re going to sign a contract, it’s important to fully understand what you are paying for and how that will be delivered. Reputable MSPs charge an agreed-upon flat-rate based on the services delivered multiplied number of seats – and this price should hold steady month over month unless new services or additional projects are added onto the package.
If an MSP is cagey about providing pricing information, or says that it will vary month to month, that’s a warning sign – you shouldn’t face unexpected costs at the end of the month.
What is your recommendation regarding hardware and software?
A trustworthy MSP will take the time to audit your existing IT infrastructure and lay out a plan for anything that needs to be replaced, repaired or updated to meet your business goals. As a business partner, your MSP should be looking to make the most of your existing assets and providing strategic procurement advice.
While it’s normal for MSPs to suggest a few upgrades that will enable them to support your network, be careful if they try sell you on replacing everything you have, from printers, routers and software. That’s a sign they’re looking for a short-term profit and your expense.
What happens if/when my infrastructure goes down?
Even if downtime isn’t catastrophic, it can be extremely expensive for your business. That’s why it’s important to ensure an MSP is ready to explain how they can provide you with a disaster recovery plan. And when you bring this up, see how they respond when you ask about a Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective.
Even if you don’t know what these terms mean, any good MSP should. And if they can’t provide any details on how they can help you bounce back from an IT disaster, it’s time to move on.
What accreditation and certifications does your company have as an MSP?
You need to trust that a Managed Service Provider can deliver the tools and expertise needed to keep your IT running at its best. One good way to vet your options is to find out what certifications they hold, including those related to the vendors they partner with. At the least, they should have the basics – you can get a list of certifications and validate them with some quick Googling.
Do you have experience working within our industry and with our size of the company?
It’s important to ensure the MSP you choose has some experience working with your industry, or at least, companies of your size. If you’re a seven-person shop and the rest of their clients are enterprise-grade, the bulk of their solutions and experience may not apply to you.
You’re not the only one looking for a good match – MSPs often have a “sweet-spot” when it comes to client size, and if you fall into that, they will genuinely be enthusiastic about winning you as a client.
How will you ensure that we are a part of our IT experience?
You are trusting your MSP to be your technology expert, but it’s important they take the time to share what is going on in an understandable way. If they can’t (or won’t), it can strain the business relationship, because:
- You may feel as though the provider doesn’t explain things sufficiently and leaves them fending for themselves with technology they don’t understand
- You’re unsure about whether their IT system is actually doing what they need it to as the business changes
- Unexpected updates and maintenance create disruption
- The MSP thinks that drowning a client in data can replace the function of good customer service
- IT is an opaque wall that you’re expected to accept without understanding
Before you commit, determine how the MSP intends to provide communication as they deliver service. This could include regular reporting, Quarterly Business Reviews, in-person meetings, or other initiatives that ensure you will know what’s going on, and have an opportunity to provide input and explore new solutions.
How Does This MSP Help Drive My Business Goals?
In today’s world, technology drives business. It’s a fact - And IT should no longer be viewed as a business expense, but as a revenue generator. When you meet with an MSP, it’s important to outline your short and long-term business objectives to ensure they know what your goals are and can provide a credible plan to help you achieve them.
Since 1999, Keeran Networks has been the guiding light when it comes to managed IT services that help businesses meet their goals. Our stacked services ensure your technology is deployed, maintained, and protected thanks to the experience of our certified experts and technicians.