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Remote Employees and Network Security

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Key Questions to Ask Your Prospective Managed Service Provider

Bill LaRue
4 min read
Aug 15, 2022 2:09:00 PM

Find the right one for your business

Choosing to support your business’s IT needs with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a big decision. You may be in the process of looking for a Managed Service Provider but struggling with how to decide. Before committing to a provider, take a few steps back and look at how the potential MSP would fit into your business. When evaluating an MSP, there are a few specific considerations to ensure it is the right one for your company. Here is a list of 10 key questions to use when evaluating a potential Managed Service Provider.

10 questions to help you evaluate an MSP

Does your team have advanced security knowledge? Your potential MSP should have a firm grasp of IT and data security with the knowledge and flexibility to adapt as malicious threats become more advanced. If security is important to your business or industry, you may be interested in a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). You can test any MSP’s advanced security knowledge by asking them to perform a security assessment on your environment. If they cannot perform this type of evaluation and provide insufficient documentation, you want to look elsewhere.

Do you deliver both remote and on-site support? Today your business doesn’t just exist inside your office – it exists wherever your employees access your data. With remote work and mobile devices, an effective MSP must be able to deliver their services to devices wherever they are located. The majority of traditional “on-site” needs can typically be handled remotely, with most of those being detected proactively through network, desktop, and security management tools. It’s more efficient for your business in terms of cost and time, and it allows you more choice in where your provider is located.

Can you help with upgrades or new technology implementations? Not all Managed Service Providers can help you perform major upgrades or implement new technologies. Choosing an MSP who can perform complex IT projects for your business can make operations run more efficiently. MSPs who understand the business technology landscape will become very familiar with the technical aspects of your business as well as your future goals. This type of MSP is strategically positioned to help you make the best decisions for your organization.

What is your helpdesk coverage like? Helpdesk solutions are one of the most popular managed service offerings today. But not all helpdesks are created equal. It’s important to get a clear picture of a prospective MSP’s helpdesk offering. You may want to consider whether the helpdesk is in-house or outsourced by the MSP and whether it is in the U.S. Additionally, it’s important to have 24/7/365 helpdesk coverage for your business, so you will want to inquire about their operating hours. Your MSP needs to be equipped to handle emergencies wherever and whenever they happen to get you back on track.

What happens if/when my infrastructure goes down? In today’s technology-centered world, an IT disaster is almost inevitable. When choosing a Managed Service Provider, it’s essential you find one that is prepared for disaster. Reputable MSPs should be ready to discuss a disaster recovery plan. A recovery plan involves establishing recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. Basically, how quickly would you need to have systems restored and how frequently do your back-ups need to happen? Your MSP should either have a clear recovery policy in place or be ready to create a customizable plan for your business needs.

What is your data security policy? Every day we are reminded of how important it is to be aware of data security. This is especially true for managed service professionals. Your client, personal, and corporate data all need to be protected. Ask the prospective MSP for their privacy policy and internal procedures for information security. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity.

How will I know how the IT area of our business is doing? While good Managed Service Providers prevent you from spending time worrying about technology, you should have access to detailed reporting about what your MSP does on the back end to keep it that way. The best providers are willing to be transparent about their services. They want you to be involved and will have set procedures on how to keep you in the loop. Some things to consider are the reporting provided and meeting cadence to keep you informed and part of your company’s IT experience.

Do you have experience working with other organizations in my industry? Sometimes an MSP who is trying to be everything to everyone may lack the skills and knowledge to support your specific industry. You are bringing an MSP on to be an expert and a strategic partner. Pay attention to the direction of your conversations and the questions they bring about your business. Ask potential providers if they have experience working with businesses like yours in the past. Even better, ask if they are willing to provide a few references from your industry.

How will your services help support the growth of our business? When deciding on a Managed Service Provider, you want to choose a company that will be able to grow with you. As your business evolves, you will add more staff, new technology, and data to manage. You want an MSP that can support your enterprise growth. It’s better to be prepared for future development now than be held back in the future.

What sets you apart from other Managed Service Providers? After a good discussion of the preceding questions, you probably already have a good sense of what sets your prospective Managed Service Provider apart. But it doesn’t hurt to ask this question at the end to be sure you are satisfied with the response. There are a few things you may want to clarify before you wrap up. Beyond technical certifications, it is important for you to understand if you are engaging with an accredited MSP. In addition to being an accredited MSP, what other third-party audits do they receive, and do they hold any other certifications? Do they have a training program to stay up to date with new technologies? Do they have a unique level of experience working in your industry? By this point, something should stand out.

Where do you go from here?

Choosing to work with an MSP means you are ready to invest in protecting your business against downtime and security breaches. While these 10 questions provide a good base for evaluating a potential MSP, the most critical pieces of the partnership between you and the MSP are the health and specific needs of your business.

The team at Locknet® Managed IT is ready to answer your questions about partnering with a Managed Service Provider. Contact us to start the conversation.

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