For business owners, finding the right IT partner can be overwhelming. With so many companies offering similar services, how do you know which one is right for you? Which managed services provider (MSP) can you trust with your IT infrastructure and needs?
Whether you have an in-house IT team who needs additional support or are looking for an IT MSP to take on all of your information technology needs, it’s important to ask the right questions to determine which partner is the best fit for your company.
Before entering into a contract or agreement with a managed IT services provider, get to know their capabilities and experience through a thorough interview process. What important questions should you ask? Focus on areas like company experience, pricing and contracts, data management, and comanaged services.
Here are questions to ask your managed IT services provider to get you started.
First and foremost, you will want to make sure the company you select to be your IT partner has the experience and background to provide you with the best experience and service. Sample questions to ask include:
- What are the team qualifications? What skills and abilities does your technical staff carry? If you are outsourcing some or all of your IT needs, it’s critical you work with a team that has the technical expertise of a CTO AND the hands-on skills of a tech support team. What experience do they have in their field? How long have they worked in IT? What industry credentials or certifications do they have?
- Can I contact your existing clients for references? Does the managed IT services provider readily offer references and testimonials? If not, why? Current client testimonials and references can be very helpful during the decision process. Another way to check references is to look at their Google reviews.
- Do you have specific experience in our industry? If you are in an industry that has unique IT needs, the answer to this question may be key in whether or not you move forward with the MSP.
- Is there any reason to NOT hire your company? This question tends to surprise many companies. Ask them reasons why they may not be the best partner. What areas do they need to improve? What potential problems or issues could you encounter if you hire them?
Pricing and Contracts
If you are considering working with a managed IT services provider, you likely have a budget you need to stay within. While an MSP may have a tiered pricing structure that fits into your budget, there are other pricing and contract questions you should ask including:
- Do you charge a flat fee? Or do you charge by the hour or help desk ticket? The answers to these questions will vary widely between MSPs. Some companies charge a flat fee for ongoing services while others will charge by the hour or even by the number of help desk tickets. If the company works by the hour or by issue, this can be more expensive in the long run than charging a flat fee.
- Do you have a service level agreement? A service level agreement (SLA) defines the scope of work and the level of service you can expect in the relationship. Essentially, an SLA is a commitment by the provider to you as their client. Professional, reputable companies will offer a service level agreement.
- Is there an onboarding fee? Some MSPs will hide this extra fee in their contract and clients may not notice it until they get their first invoice. While onboarding fees are not necessarily unheard of, an MSP should be upfront and transparent if this is their business model. If they DO charge a fee, ask what is covered for onboarding – meetings? Discovery time? Be sure you understand what is and isn’t covered.
- Is there an annual contract? If so, is there an opt-out clause? Many managed IT services companies require a one-year contract. What happens if you aren’t happy with their service after 3 months? Six months? Ask what options there are if you are not satisfied with their service. Do they offer contract flexibility including monthly options?
- Do you offer a free IT assessment before signing a contract? If you are interviewing potential IT partners, how do you know what you need? Companies that want to work with you will offer an assessment BEFORE a contract so you understand what services may or may not be needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for this service, too.
One of the most important aspects of information technology is data management, especially for companies that manage sensitive internal data and external client or customer information. How will the MSP protect that data and how is it managed? Here are a few key questions to ask your potential MSP:
- How do you protect my data? Cybersecurity is critical in data management. Ask the MSP what policies and procedures they have in place to keep prying eyes off of your company information.
- How are backups and disaster recovery handled? Let’s face it – sometimes even with the best IT teams in place, systems can crash. How does an MSP handle disaster recovery? Can they remedy service issues remotely? What is the average downtime for their clients after an issue?
Companies who already have an internal IT department may want to partner with an MSP for comanaged services. Comanaged service is a framework where some IT tasks are delegated to the MSP while others are handled internally.
- Do you offer comanaged services? What does that relationship look like? Some MSPs adopt an “all or nothing” approach when working with their clients. In reality, this isn’t always necessary. For companies that have a CTO, they may only need ongoing cybersecurity or help desk services. For other companies that have an internal tech support role on staff, they may need IT consulting and strategic planning services. Discuss your managed service needs with the provider to have a full understanding of how a comanaged relationship works.
Managed IT Services from Everound
At Everound, we work with our clients to customize a partnership that not only meets their specific IT needs but does so in a way that fits into their budget. We provide a service level agreement for our clients that details what we will do to help them realize IT operational efficiency.
Here are other ways we are set apart from other managed IT services providers:
- Many of our current clients came to us after their existing MSP overpromised and underdelivered. We do not walk away from a challenge and if your current IT company is telling you “no,” we can find a way to say “yes.”
- We do not require an annual contract, just a 30-day heads-up that we weren’t a great fit. And we do not charge a fee if our relationship ends.
- If we aren’t the right partner for you, we will help you find a managed IT services provider to replace us! Our goal is to provide the service our clients need and deserve and if we fall short we will work hard to find you another company to work with you.
Curious about our approach to managed IT services? Reach out today to start a discussion. Let us focus on your IT so you can focus on your business.