10 Questions to Ask Your Managed Services Provider

10 Questions to Ask Your Managed Services Provider

Almost all organizations rely heavily on information technology to accomplish their missions, but staff and skill limitations often make it difficult to manage increasingly complex IT environments. That’s why roughly two-thirds of all businesses in the U.S. work with a managed services provider (MSP) to augment their internal IT staff.

However, most companies today need more than just basic break/fix services. They need a partner who can help take their business to the next level. In particular, many are seeking guidance on cloud, cybersecurity, automation, digitalization and other strategic initiatives.

Choosing the right MSP is a big decision, and the evaluation process can be tricky for even the most tech-savvy businesses. MSPs can have wildly different levels of skill and expertise. To find a provider that’s a good fit for your company, it’s a good idea to ask these 10 questions:

What services do you offer? Most MSPs offer network monitoring and maintenance, but you may require more specialized services. Providers with Level 3 engineering support can handle more sophisticated problems such as routing and switching issues.

Can you help us implement new technologies? Leading MSPs will have a deep bench of engineers with expertise in a range of emerging technologies along with real-world implementation experience. They should be able to describe how they evaluate solutions and developing implementation plans.

Will you provide customized services? Your MSP should be able to demonstrate proficiency in a broad range of technical disciplines. Rather than pushing a one-size-fits-all solution, however, the provider should be able to create a customized suite of services and solutions designed to fit your specific needs.

How will you protect my data? Look for providers with SOC 2 certification, which validates that they have controls in place to ensure the security and privacy of customer information. Ask about their backup and disaster recovery plans.

Do you have experience in my industry? Unless you’re only looking for the most basic break-fix services, you need a partner who understands your business and your industry’s particular technology requirements.

How does your tech support work? Providers should be able to explain clearly how their ticketing and escalation process works. Will they provide you with updates until the problem is resolved? Is someone available around the clock, or do they offer service during regular business hours?

What kind of facilities do you have? Tour their facilities to get a better understanding of their capabilities. Do they have their own network operations center (NOC) or do they outsource services to a different provider? If they outsource, will their partner honor your SLAs and other contractual arrangements?

Do you offer asset and vendor management? Most organizations today have hardware and software from dozens of different manufacturers. Ideally, your MSP will serve as a liaison between you and your technology vendors to ensure timely resolution of issues covered by warranties or maintenance agreements.

Do you provide warranty tracking services? Some companies have hundreds of different IT equipment warranties and service contracts — some listing thousands of items with different coverages and expiration dates. Look for a provider who can automate warranty management to ensure there are no unexpected lapses in coverage.

How will you support a remote workforce? Your MSP should be able to support growing numbers of remote workers. In addition to regular monitoring, maintenance, patching and upgrading services, your provider should offer remote network access technologies, help desk support and on-call expertise with cloud-based communication and collaboration platforms.

The key to gaining maximum benefits from the managed services model is finding the right partner. SSD has expertise with a wide range of IT systems, and we serve customers in virtually every industry sector. If you’re in the process of evaluating potential technology partners, give us a call. We’d welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and your technology goals.