Coming from a managed IT service provider (MSP) in Los Angeles, we know there's a lot of MSP's out there. It can be easy to settle and end up with one that's not a good fit. You may be wondering, what are the right questions you should be asking your MSP?
In our experience, preparing the right questions to ask is the best way to find out how good an MSP is for you.
Every business will have its own questions to ask depending on specific circumstances, but there are general themes that will help get the proper responses.
When hiring an MSP, keep these questions in mind to garner the best results.
Best Questions to ask an MSP
What pricing model do you use?
Most managed services follow similar pricing models. But there are some that structure it differently enough to make this a relevant question.
And not just in dollar terms, but rather how they handle billing.
Knowing how a business charges for its services can mean the difference between quality service and a waste of money.
Whether they charge a flat-fee, custom pricing or set minimum blocks, it's good to know what to expect.
What are your pricing options?
Understand that you can hire a managed IT provider for different levels of support - Which all will affect pricing.
It's important to have an idea of what you require from them and ask for customizable pricing.
Some MSPs will tailor the service directly to your management leads.
There will be price differences for fully managed verses co-managed and so on.
Speaking of co-managed service...
Does the MSP offer co-managed options?
Plenty of companies already have an IT department or an IT guy working in-house. This does not mean the company will not benefit from the support of an MSP.
An MSP can act as a project manager, handling projects and security that your internal team has no time for.
Being able to pay for this model, will most certainly cut the cost needed to pay your MSP.
Keep in mind, not all managed services allow this model of support. Those are the all-or-nothing type.
If you do have already have an internal team, you might also realize you're over paying for your IT.
In this case, you might find it better to have the best of both worlds. An MSP to handle the more technical work at an affordable price. With the internal guy that acts as mission control to your staff.
What security measures do you take?
One of the biggest reasons for hiring any kind of IT is to make sure your network is as secure as it can be.
If you outsource your data, it has to be secure.
In some situations, you might have state or even federal regulations you must follow. Regulations that demand the proper protection and threaten you with large fines or legal action for the failure to do so.
HIPPA and FINRA compliance come to mind.
Knowing what cybersecurity measures your IT provider handles can be vital in deciding which firm to go with.
What is your process of discovery?
When you're in the beginning stages of hiring an MSP, they should ask to conduct an initial assessment of you network.
Red Flag if they don't offer one.
An MSP should not be able to offer you solutions solely based off the inventory list you gave them.
You want a provider that values the accuracy of what they are offering.
Plus, an assessment will offer you valuable information you may of not known about your network, such as potential security threats or equipment lifespan.
What hardware and software is recommended?
A well-seasoned managed service provider will be able to suggest best-in-class tech to their clients in addition to using the best tech for monitoring and management.
When you know what technology will be suggested to you, you can cross reference it against recommendations from industry analysts.
Keep in mind, some IT providers have great relationships with vendors which will come in handy when it comes to price.
What is the service level agreements?
A service-level agreement (SLA), which typically guarantees uptime, is essentially a contract between the provider and the user.
Having a contract both parties agree on, is the best way to prepare expectations.
If a company does not meet the agreed upon service requirements, there are different measures that will apply like refunds or free service after the agreed upon term.
Make sure to go over response times when creating the SLAs
Your MSP should have written documentation in the contract outlining the impact levels. Including response times associated with impacts levels and a time-to-remediate.
What certifications and accreditations does your business hold?
Certification and accreditations are, essentially, a business' reputation.
When a company acquires a certain level of skills and expertise, they may receive credentials from an independent verifier who has no stake in the company's success or failures.
Having accreditations and certifications is preferable to not having them, even though some carry more weight than others and you can hunt for them particularly as part of your information collecting process.
Identify the MSP's affiliation with Gold Partners like Cisco, Microsoft, Dell, and others.
Inquire about their CCIE, CCNA, and MSCE numbers. Do they also hold security credentials like the CISSP or CISM or VMware certifications?
What's the best way to start looking for a managed service provider (MSP)?
Now this is the real question you want to start with.
Whether you have specific requirements of a finance or healthcare firm, or something special to how you do business, our resources and partners can offer the direction you might require.
All you have to do is ask.
The right questions you should be asking your MSP will be unique to you. To have a long lasting relationship with a trusted IT provider, it requires open communication. We hope this blog helps you on your next IT endeavor.
Check out our recent YouTube video where we talk about How Outsourcing IT Can Save You Money
If you are looking for a Managed IT Provider in your area, feel free to book a time to chat with us via the Calendly link below. I'd be happy to discuss ways to optimize your company's IT.
STG IT Consulting Group proudly provides IT Service for Small to Medium Businesses in Greater Los Angeles. We'd love to see if we can help you too!