In a lot of ways, picking the right managed service provider to meet your needs is less like finding a traditional third party vendor and a lot more like finding a true business partner. You need a company with a strategic approach, with the right resources and expertise that compliments your needs. They need to understand your vision and what you're trying to accomplish, while using the right technology to help get you there.
Naturally, this isn't a process that is going to happen overnight. You'll want to look at as many vendors as possible in your quest to find just the right fit and when you do, there are a few key questions that you'll definitely want to ask to help you along.
1. Are You a Good Fit For My Compliance Needs?
This question is the most important mainly because the consequences of getting it wrong are so severe. Your industry likely has very specific rules governing what information can be stored digitally, how it can be accessed, how it must be protected, and more. This is especially true if you're in a field like healthcare or personal finance where the rules change all the time.
You don't just need someone that can provide you with general data security — you need an MSP with experience in your particular field to make sure that you don't wind up on the receiving end of hefty fines and violations. Asking this question will help prevent that from happening.
2. How Do You Prefer to Handle Billing?
This is another essential question to ask, as one of the major benefits of a managed services provider is helping you save a huge amount of money up-front by way of a fixed, predictable monthly fee. But without asking this question, certain factors might be a whole lot less predicable than you were depending on.
Always find out exactly how billing works, what you're actually paying for, what fees (if any), or other service charges you will be subject to under certain circumstances.
3. How, Exactly, Do You Handle Tech Support?
Part of the reason why MSPs are so popular is because of the level of expertise and support they can provide you versus your own in-house team. However, you'll want to find out just what ‘support’ exactly entails before you sign on the dotted line.
Do they provide you with a dedicated account manager that you can reach out to if something goes wrong? What type of system monitoring do they employ? For support, will you be talking to someone at the MSP's company, or will they be handing it off to a help desk service? These are all essential questions that need to be answered before proceeding.
4. What Type of Uptime Can You Guarantee?
Another one of the major benefits of an MSP comes down to availability — which is why you'll want to make sure that you and your MSPs agree and define what availability actually means.
Always go with an MSP that guarantees uptime as close to 100% as possible. Things happen, sure, but offering less than 99.9% uptime is not a risk that you'll want to take.
5. Do You Have a Service Level Agreement?
Another essential question to ask involves an MSP's service level agreement (SLA), or lack thereof. There should be some type of contractual terms that the MSP must adhere to when providing service at all times. If your MSP does NOT have SLA, keep in mind that they may have no incentive or reason to respond to major incidents as quickly as possible because there is no "standard" level of service to measure against in the first place.
6. Do You Have Experience With a Company My Size?
To put it simply, providing technology services to a company with five people is much, much different than trying to provide the same level of service to a company with 50 or even 500 people. It is not enough for an MSP to just have experience in your industry — they also need experience with the size of business you're running as well for the best possible fit. The only way you're going to be able to guarantee that is if you ask some variation of this question and check if they have the capacity to give you full support no matter your company size.
7. How Active Are You in Terms of Reporting and Feedback?
Finally, you should always ask about what type of KPIs (key performance indicators) will be used to measure your company's overall progress and performance, and if any will be used at all. Think about it like this: an MSP is in a position to dig deep into your company and analyse how it uses tech than you do. They can see everything down to the most granular detail regarding how resources are being allocated, what works, and (most importantly) what doesn't.
There is absolutely no reason for them to keep that information to themselves.
By providing you with as much data as possible, your MSP should help you not only improve business processes organically, but help identify areas that may be underperforming. Your MSP should be a partner in your success and help set up the path for you to get there.
The Powernet Approach
At Powernet, we understand how instrumental IT is to the overall health and success of your organisation. Like you, we understand that technology is just an asset, but what you do and how you use that asset will mean the difference between success and failure. As industry leaders in terms of IT support and managed services, we want to help you enjoy as many of the benefits in the most effortless way possible.
To find out more about the essential questions that you should ask before hiring an MSP, or to learn more about what a managed service provider can do for you in general, take the next step — contact Powernet today.