As a small business owner, choosing to use a managed service provider is usually a smart decision. You don’t have the time necessary to ensure your hardware and systems are running smoothly at all times. You also don’t have enough time to properly analyze your technologies for inefficiencies, especially when you’re busy managing your business and staff. If you don’t have the knowledge to maintain or fix your equipment in the event of an error or malfunction, that can result in serious downtime (meaning unnecessarily lost productivity and revenue).
You know your business needs a managed service provider, but choosing one can feel like a big decision…because, well, it is. You can’t be putting your technology in the hands of just anyone!
Whether you’re looking for a new MSP or just wanting to ensure your current provider is the best deal you can get in your local area – we recommend you ask the following 8 questions to make sure they check these crucial boxes in their operations:
- What IT support do you offer?
Any cloud-based MSP worth their salt should provide unlimited remote support and include this in their bundle. Local area support is also valuable, particularly if you need help immediately. You don’t want to have to wait for a third party to get involved at their own speed.
- What experience do you have in my industry?
If the managed service provider doesn’t have past experience in your vertical or relevant client case studies, they may not have knowledge specific enough to your actual needs. You may want to find a company that can back up their claims with proven results.
- What are the terms of the contract?
Make sure you understand the exact details of your contract before locking into anything. You don’t want to run into any limitations that will end up costing you more money in the long run.
Also, make sure you find out what it entails to cancel your contract. While it’s ideal to find and stay with an MSP that fits your criteria, it’s a smart idea to have an “escape plan” if you end up needing to change direction for any unforeseen reason.
- Is initial pricing promotional or fixed?
Before locking in a contract, you should make sure that subscription-based sales (like service plan fees) are not going to change in price. If they are, make sure you know what the percentage change and cost ratios are going to be. You don’t want to be paying a low price for the first month, and then get a rude shock when your cost leaps to double or even triple the month afterward.
- How do you implement updates or changes in technology?
If the MSP is a pioneer in the IT industry, new changes in technology will fold into your roadmap. In fact, you’ll barely even notice the differences between the changes. All you’ll know is that the systems are running better than ever before and without interruptions.
When picking a managed service provider – make sure they’re not running outdated software, struggling to keep up with technological changes, and forcing old systems to work around new changes just to cut costs.
- Do you have a good reputation?
Reputation is indicative of quality in any business. If the service provider that you’re going to be hiring isn’t well-reputed with good reviews and awards to boast, you may want to stay away from working with them.
(Do your own research as well. Contact others that have worked with them in the past to see if the feedback is genuinely positive, or if they’ve really just been nothing but problems and headaches.)
- Do I need any on-site equipment?
Not all MSPs do this, but make sure that you’re 100% confident in what is needed from you in terms of hardware. Sometimes providers will include “required” additions for your office in your contract when really this is unnecessary equipment that could be virtualized or hosted somewhere else. Unexpected costs can also crop up from hardware installation that was included in the fine print, so make sure you don’t get tricked by sly providers on this front.
- What does your SLA look like?
Service Level Agreements are crucial to monitoring and management of your system availability and performance. SLAs outline the kind of remuneration you’re going to receive if outages or non-deliveries occur. And 99.99% uptime is the very bottom line that you should expect from a competent MSP – meaning that in an entire year, there will be only 52 minutes of downtime! This baseline means that ideally, you should be looking for perfect coverage and non-stop service; but less than an hour of downtime annually is still realistic and acceptable.
Curious about how GXA would answer these questions? Contact us, and we’ll be happy to discuss all of these points and more!