When seeking an IT support partner for your business, there are some key questions you need answered before engaging in any long-term relationship.
In this short article, we have drilled down what we believe to be the top 5 questions to ask a managed IT services provider.
1. What Services Do You Actually You Offer?
Might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses get into a long term contract or arrangement with an MSP only to discover they don’t provide the services that they ACTUALLY need.
It’s important from the outset to get a clear idea of your provider’s skillset and entire portfolio of services. If you lock into an agreement and then realise you need another service provided too, but this provider can’t do it, you’d then need to source an additional service provider to help you. Then you’re unnecessarily managing two contracts and relationships when perhaps only one was necessary all along.
So make sure you are precise and ask. Do they provide hardware support, software support, cybersecurity services, cloud services, and data backup and recovery? What about productivity consultancy? Can you scale effectively if we add more users?
Knowing the full scope of your MSP’s services in advance will help you determine if they can meet all your IT needs and save you from making costly mistakes.
2. How is Your Support Structured?
It’s also really important to find out about your IT service provider’s support structure. What methods do you have to reach them? Phone, email, chat, WhatsApp, Messenger etc.
What are their response time guarantees, and the levels of support they provide? Is their support 24/7 support or is it limited to business hours. Does their support SLA include both remote and on-site support? Where are their service offices based? Is any level of their support service outsourced abroad?
Really drill into the detail of the protocols and actions you need to take and what is required for your needs.
3. What Are Your Security Policies and Practices?
The number one IT concern for small businesses typically revolves around security. And for good reason.
Ask your MSP about their specific security protocols surrounding cybersecurity and data protection. How do they handle data breaches?
If you’re in an industry that must adhere to certain regulations it’s important to check whether the practices they employ keep you compliant? A good managed service provider will know about the requirements for legal firms, healthcare etc. So check they are up-to-date with what is required.
4. Can You Provide References or Case Studies?
Again, a simple and easy question to ask. Asking for references or case studies gives you an insight into their track record. It helps in understanding how they have supported other businesses and what results they have achieved. This can be a good indicator of their expertise and reliability.
Don’t be afraid to ask if you can speak to a current customer of theirs.
5. What are Your Costs and Billing Policies?
Lastly, having an understanding of their fee structure is essential. Ask about their pricing models (fixed fee, per-user, per-device, etc.), what is included in the fee, and how often you will be billed. Check the terms of your service contract – how long are you signing up for?
Also, inquire about any additional costs that might be incurred outside your subscription, such as for after-hours support or emergency services. Addressing issues like this in advance can save a lot of unexpected shocks and potential bad blood.
Only by asking these questions, can you gain a clear understanding of what to expect from an IT support company. You need to feel confident everything is in order to ensure that your partnership will be beneficial for your specific needs and goals.