In today’s fast-paced business landscape, maintaining a healthy and secure IT infrastructure is paramount to your long-term success. Many businesses, regardless of their size, are turning to Managed IT Services Providers (MSPs) to handle their IT operations and ensure seamless operations. However, not all MSPs are created equal, and choosing the right partner requires careful consideration.
To ensure that you’re getting the quality service you deserve, you need to know how to ask the right questions. In this article, we’ll delve into the 13 questions you should ask your or potential MSPs to ensure that you’re making the best decision for your business.
Do you follow industry standards and best practices?
A reputable service provider should demonstrate a commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends, news, and best practices. Inquire about their approach to industry standards, like for accounting and CPA firms, whether they attend partner conferences, or how they keep themselves informed about advancements in technology. This question helps gauge the MSP’s dedication to providing high-quality services backed by industry knowledge.
What are your service offerings, and what is your approach to customized solutions?
When evaluating an MSP, it’s crucial to grasp the scope of their services. Inquire about the range of services they offer, which can encompass proactive monitoring, cybersecurity, cloud solutions, and more. This insight allows you to gauge if their offerings align with your immediate and future IT needs.
Moreover, inquire about their approach to customizing services for each business. A reliable MSP should be adept at tailoring their solutions to your specific requirements, industry, and growth goals. Their flexibility in adapting services as your business evolves showcases their commitment to ensuring your IT strategy remains aligned with your changing demands.
Are your technicians certified in the solutions and services you provide?
A strong partnership with technology providers is indicative of an MSP’s expertise. When looking for a managed IT service provider, inquire about their certifications and partnerships. The higher their partnership level with organizations like Microsoft and Intuit, the more expertise they can bring to the table, ensuring that your business benefits from knowledgeable and certified technicians.
Do you have experience serving other clients in our industry and of a similar size?
Experience in serving clients within your industry and of similar size is a valuable indicator of an MSP’s ability to understand your specific needs. Request case studies or client references that you can contact to gain insights into their experience with the MSP. A provider that has established relationships and satisfied customers in your industry is more likely to provide tailored solutions.
How do you address Compliance Requirements, & what cybersecurity measures do you take to ensure them?
Firstly, inquire about their familiarity with industry-specific compliance regulations like SOC, HIPAA and FINRA. An MSP or MSSP experienced in your sector’s regulations will be better equipped to keep your business compliant. Secondly, discuss their cybersecurity measures, including data protection, remote monitoring, encryption, and threat detection. A comprehensive strategy is indicative of their commitment to safeguarding your data.
Lastly, assess their incident response capabilities. Even with preventive measures, cybersecurity incidents can occur. An MSP with a well-defined incident response protocol showcases their ability to handle breaches effectively. Prioritizing compliance and security solutions is crucial for maintaining your business’s integrity and reputation, especially when in the middle of a disaster.
Do you have enough resources to serve us effectively and in a timely manner?
The effectiveness of an MSP’s support largely depends on the resources they have at their disposal. Inquire about the number of employees dedicated to their managed IT services and their ability to handle increased workload during peak times. Growth in the company’s workforce is also a positive sign of their ability to scale with your business.
What are your normal business hours and what is your availability outside of those hours?
Availability is crucial in IT support. Ask the MSP about their normal business hours and whether they offer 24/7 support for emergencies. Additionally, inquire about their response times during business and non-business hours. This ensures that you can count on them to provide assistance when you need it the most.
Do they only serve in the United States or international?
When it comes to IT support and access management, accessibility and effective communication are vital. While location might not be a deal-breaker, it’s worth knowing where your potential MSP is headquartered. Knowing whether the MSP is based in the United States or overseas can provide insights into factors such as time zone differences and potential language barriers. For example, Nerds Support is based in Miami but serves nation-wide across the United States, and even have clients all over the world.
Moreover, inquire about the scope of their service coverage. Do they offer their services nationwide, or do they have limitations in terms of geographical reach? This question is particularly important if your business operates across multiple locations or if you have employees working remotely. An MSP with a broad nation-wide reach can ensure that all your business locations receive consistent and timely support.
Do you only provide remote services or is on-site support available at a different rate?
Onsite support can be essential, especially for complex projects or urgent issues. Some MSPs offer on-site IT services at an additional cost. Clarify whether they can provide on-site support if needed and how they handle it. If they are not local, inquire if they have arrangements for local support.
What qualifies as “out of scope” work and what does it cost?
Transparency is key when it comes to service level agreements (SLA). Discuss what is included in their managed IT services and what falls outside the scope of the agreement. Understand what constitutes out of scope work and the associated costs. A trustworthy MSP will provide clear definitions to avoid any misunderstandings.
Do you properly document work to maintain accurate records, and how do you monitor IT performance?
Documentation is the backbone of effective IT management. A reliable MSP should have a robust system for documenting their work. Inquire about how they maintain records of tasks, solutions, and changes made to your IT environment. Documentation not only ensures transparency, but also helps in resolving issues efficiently and preventing future problems.
Monitoring IT performance is a critical aspect of a Managed Security Services Provider’s role. When evaluating an MSSP or MSP, understanding their monitoring strategies is essential. A proficient MSSP employs real-time monitoring tools to track network health, mobile device management, server performance, application responsiveness, and security events. They proactively identify potential issues, conduct regular maintenance, and offer swift incident detection and response through automated alerts.
Furthermore, a competent MSSP focuses on security monitoring, analyzes performance metrics, and provides insightful reporting on trends and incidents. Their capacity planning ensures your IT environment remains scalable, and they offer 24/7 monitoring to promptly address issues. Customizable strategies tailored to your business needs and a well-defined incident response plan are indicative of an provider committed to delivering quality service, ensuring your IT systems operate seamlessly, and supporting your business’s success.
How do you plan to scale with our business and with future technologies?
When considering an MSP or MSSP, it’s vital to gauge their capacity to support your business’s growth and evolving IT demands. Ensure that the MSP has experience accommodating expanding businesses and inquire about their strategies for addressing changing needs. Look for flexibility in their services and pricing models, indicating their ability to scale with your business as it grows.
Stay ahead in the ever-evolving tech landscape by asking about the MSP’s commitment to staying updated with emerging technologies. A proactive approach to staying informed about industry trends and best practices demonstrates their dedication to innovation. Moreover, assess their willingness to integrate new solutions such artificial intelligence and other IT automations that could enhance your operations, highlighting their forward-thinking mindset.
Ultimately, a successful MSP partnership should not only meet your current IT requirements but also align with your long-term business goals and technological aspirations. By posing these questions, you can ensure that the chosen MSP is ready to grow with your business and provide valuable insights and solutions to navigate the dynamic technological landscape.
The Most important Question
While the questions above cover essential technical aspects, there’s a more intangible aspect to consider: trust. Establishing a partnership with an MSP should feel like finding a business ally and friend. Ask yourself if the potential MSP aligns with your company’s mission and values. Are they genuinely invested in your business’s success? Are they responsive, communicative, and adaptable? Questions like these as well as other general managed IT services questions can be the difference maker for your business in the next several years or even decade. Finding a managed IT services provider who not only checks all the technical boxes but also aligns with your company culture can make a significant difference in your long-term success.
By asking the right questions, you can ensure that you’re partnering with an MSP that aligns with your business goals, values, and IT needs. A trustworthy MSP will readily answer these questions and provide evidence of their expertise, experience, and commitment to quality service. As you embark on the journey of finding the perfect MSP for your business, remember that the right partnership can provide you with peace of mind, security, and the ability to focus on your core business operations.
If you’re considering partnering with an IT provider, either for the first time or maybe your current IT isn’t cutting it, Nerds Support offers Free IT Consultations for growing businesses who are looking to learn more. We’re here to help educate and answer your specific questions to bring your business to where it deserves to be!