You know your business inside and out. But, as your organization evolves and grows, you may consider managed IT to ensure the efficiency, security, and scalability of your business technology. That means you need to know how to choose a managed service provider (MSP). This article shares important questions to ask.

What is an MSP?

An MSP provides managed IT services for small businesses. This external partner supports your business and your usersʼ IT needs by:

  • Streamlining your IT infrastructure
  • Providing IT monitoring and maintenance
  • Securing your systems
  • Backing up your data
  • Reducing hardware and software costs

With so many IT managed services solutions available, comparing MSPs requires careful consideration and evaluation. The following questions can help.

What are our specific IT requirements?

First you need to determine your IT needs. Perhaps you want help with data or network management. Or youʼre considering cloud services. Or you want to improve your cybersecurity, data backup, and recovery.

Whatever your business goals, itʼs critical to thoroughly investigate potential partners to find an MSP that works to understand your short-term and long-term objectives.

Evaluating MSP Expertise and Reliability

The following questions for MSPs can help ensure you select an IT provider that provides reliable, secure, and scalable IT services.

thinking woman

What experience and qualifications do you have in my industry?

Look for tech experts that offer industry-specific experience. This can lead to better tailored IT solutions for your business. Plus, the MSP is more likely to know and understand compliance and industry regulations for your business. Asking about certifications and credentials can also help you find the most qualified MSP.

Can you provide case studies or references?

Reading customer stories and testimonials can help you learn the MSPʼs track record for success. You might also speak to current customers to find out what they recommend and find challenging about working with that MSP. This due diligence supports a better understanding of the MSPʼs services.

How do you ensure data security and compliance?

Discuss the compliance standards relevant to your business. Inquire about the MSP’s security protocols, monitoring tools, and incident response procedures. Youʼll also want to assess their ability to proactively identify and mitigate potential threats. Look for a partner that employs top tier tools such as Ciscoʼs industry-leading firewall the ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliance.

Assessing Managed IT Services and Support

Managed IT services for small business need to be accessible when you need them. Ask these questions to assess the availability of support.

What is the scope of your managed IT services?

Perhaps youʼre looking for 24/7 monitoring or guaranteed access to a human on a help desk. Still, you want to gauge the full scope of the MSPʼs services to know what aligns with your needs.

Common services offered by MSPs include:

  • Network management
  • Infrastructure management
  • Remote monitoring and management
  • Security services
  • Data backup and recovery
  • Cloud services
  • Help desk and technical support
  • Software as a service management
  • Consulting and advisory services
  • Compliance and regulatory services

How do you handle IT emergencies and downtime?

Ask this question not only of the MSP but of their references as well. You want to know their strategy for minimizing business disruptions. Ask about their typical response times to outages and other issues as well.

What is your approach to IT strategy and planning?

Instead of thinking of an MSP as a break-fix vendor, you might find a partner who works to streamline your processes and reduce your IT expenses. They can also help to future proof your IT infrastructure and proactively address evolving technology needs and cybersecurity threats.

Understanding Pricing and Contracts

Cost may also be an important consideration for your business. The following questions can help you better understand what you get for the price quoted.

How is your pricing structured?

Common pricing models for MSPs include paying per device or per user. You might also see usage-based pricing in which the MSP charges based on your actual consumption of resources or services, such as data storage, bandwidth, or virtual machines in a cloud environment. You might also encounter bundled or a la carte pricing where you pay a flat fee for a package of services (bundled by them or selected by you).

Ask also about any recurring fees, one-time setup costs, and additional charges for extra services or Resources.

signed contract

What are the terms of the contract?

Review any potential contract to ensure it clearly covers relevant aspects such as:

  • Scope of services including detailed descriptions of the tasks, responsibilities, and deliverables.
  • Service level agreements (SLAs) such as response times, uptime guarantees, and resolution times.
  • Contract duration and any provisions for renewal or termination.
  • Each party’s liability for damages, losses, or claims and any requirements regarding insurance coverage.

Thrive with Your MSP Partner

Selecting an MSP for your small business is no simple task. Still, these essential questions provide you with a starting point. At Infranet Technologies Group, weʼre ready to answer all these questions and more.

A leading professional services provider for over a decade, Infranet employs top-notch technology industry engineers. Find out if weʼre the right fit for your success. Contact us today.