Hiring the right Managed IT Service Provider (MSP) is important for your business, but how can you be sure that your prospective candidate is the right fit? Once you have identified a few potential MSPs, asking the right questions in an initial meeting will help you determine your prospect’s ability to meet the unique needs of your business. In this article, we explore the following questions that every business owner should ask about a prospective MSP:
1. Can the MSP Offer the Services You Need?
MSPs vary in size, expertise, experience, and approach. To help you better understand the kind of service provider that will work best for your business, take a close look at what your team and your company really need:
- Do you need 24/7 IT support?
- Is having an assigned account manager best for your team?
- Is your business complex/do you need help with compliance?
- Will your employees need minimal or maximum support?
- In which areas of IT do you need service (endpoints, website, servers, telecommunications, storage, security, etc.)?
Identifying your company’s core IT needs will help you ask the right questions when interviewing prospective MSP candidates.
2. Does the MSP Have Knowledge of Your Company’s Industry?
When searching for the right MSP, it is critical to find a provider who offers the knowledge, tools, and solutions you need to optimize operations and keep costs low. Finding an MSP who has knowledge of your company’s industry and can advise on challenging IT issues is a useful competitive advantage. At Qnectus, our experienced team of IT consultants are able to swiftly respond to support requests and provide decision makers with logical, relevant, and timely solutions in an array of industries including finance, law, healthcare, and logistics, just to name a few.
3. Does the Service Package Offered by the MSP Fit Within Your Budget?
Managed IT Service Providers employ a range of pricing models, depending on which services they offer. Before meeting with any potential MSPs, review your budget with any necessary stakeholders to get a better idea of what you are willing and able to spend. Here are some questions to ask internally before interviewing an MSP:
- What is your monthly (or yearly) budget for IT spend?
- Is the rate offered by the MSP a flat rate or inclusive price?
- Would you be interested in a break-fix model, or are you looking for something more proactive?
- Will you be able to afford any additional equipment or software suggested by the MSP at the initial IT Assessment?
4. How Responsive Is the MSP When Your Company Needs Support?
Understanding how an MSP responds during both basic support requests and also during crisis will play a large role in determining their fit for your business. Ask questions to better understand their company culture and response to issues:
- What channels are available for technical support?
- What is the MSP’s average response time to support requests?
- What is the MSP’s average remediation time for those requests?
- Which tasks do they handle in-house and which tasks are outsourced?
Further, your MSP should be able to provide documentation of their mean response and remediation times in your contract – these are known as service level agreements – which ensures that you receive a mutually agreed-upon level of service.
5. How Does the MSP Handle Disaster Recovery?
While having an MSP that supports your company during business as usual is important, having an MSP that is proactive, competent, prepared, and agile during disaster is vital. Ask prospective MSPs about the following topics to learn more about their approach to disaster recovery:
- How does the MSP engage in disaster preparedness and recovery?
- How has the MSP dealt with active threats in the past?
- How have clients recovered from any disasters that the MSP handled?
- How does the MSP prepare/protect their own assets from disaster?
- What are their recovery time objectives?
Qnectus has helped many clients develop robust disaster recovery plans – see how they helped this client safeguard their company’s important assets.
6. Does the MSP Have References?
Finally, don’t forget to ask your MSP if they are willing to provide references who can discuss their track record and performance. Ideally, any references they provide should have similar characteristics (and even industry affiliation, if possible) to your business. Some questions you may want to ask the MSP’s references include:
- Does the MSP regularly meet service level agreements and response time objectives?
- How is the MSP’s customer service?
- Does the MSP seem to really know your business and your IT infrastructure?
- Have they helped you cut costs?
- How have they reacted during times of disaster, crisis, and/or difficulty?
Taking the additional step of contacting an MSP’s references can provide you with confidence that any prospective IT provider you partner with is experienced, honest, and capable.
Settling on a Managed IT Service Provider can feel daunting, especially if this is your company’s first foray into outsourcing IT. Don’t be afraid to interview multiple candidates to find the perfect fit for your business – this is an important investment, and finding a knowledgeable, experienced, proactive MSP to handle your IT needs is a must. If you are looking for an MSP that upholds high standards of service and works hard to understand your company’s unique IT and business needs, contact Qnectus today.