If you have a company, you know how vital a robust IT system can be to the everyday running of your business. If your system goes down, it can have devastating consequences to your productivity and growth – this is where involving a manager service provider (MSP) to help keep it all running can come in handy.
However, this is a huge responsibility, and you have to make sure that you’re choosing the right company for your business’s needs. Here are eight questions that we recommend you ask a potential MSP if you’re seriously considering using their services, as well as some answers that you might want to look out for.
How will the SLA work for my business?
The foundation of the relationship between an MSP and your business is the service level agreement (SLA); for this to be a positive choice for your company, you need to make sure the foundation is strong.
While the MSP will likely have numerous solutions that are somewhat appropriate for your business, there’s no guarantee that every element of the agreement will be right for you. You’ll likely be able to come to some level of compromise based on the needs of your company and what they can provide with their expertise.
Discussing the details of your SLA can also strengthen the relationship between your company and the provider, based upon you making your expectations of them clear. If they aren’t interested in discussing the details, or are ever vague about what they can/will provide, then you know they probably don’t have your best interests at heart.
Do you work with companies similar to mine?
By working with an MSP instead of using an in-house team, there are a range of benefits. For example, an issue that might leave a dedicated in-house team scratching their heads will likely be fairly familiar to an MSP, especially if they’ve worked with similar companies before.
Working out whether an MSP has been involved with companies like yours can be helpful to knowing how they’ll deal with potential issues in a way that suits you. This may mean companies that work in a similar field to yours, or it could relate to size, location, and more.
By gathering some testimonials from companies like yours who have worked with a prospective MSP, you can ascertain whether they’re likely to be the best provider for you. This can also be an incredibly useful way of gauging whether or not an external provider could work hand-in-hand with your team – while some tasks will require you to choose between DIY in-house implementation and an external contractor, others will need the two to work together – which can be tricky territory.
Are you able to scale quickly if necessary?
If you know anything about IT systems, you know how complex they can be, and that adding any new elements to your system is rarely a straightforward process.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure that any MSP you’re considering working with will be able to expand your system quickly if necessary. When you ask, they should reply by telling you what they’ve done in similar situations before so that you come away reassured, not uncertain.
Don’t trust a company if they seem flippant about the future – you don’t want to be stuck in a situation down the line where scaling is slow, messy, and more work than it needs to be.
How proactive will your support be?
Finding a high-quality MSP is about reducing the amount of problems you’ll have to address while you also juggle running the business. A world class provider will often be able to access your system remotely, only an IT staff member through a simply phone notification if necessary rather than asking unnecessary questions or needing you to get in touch.
These problems can also often be solved remotely as well as identified, meaning that you may not even need to be aware of the issues – your MSP will be on them.
When talking to a potential MSP, it’s a good idea to see how proactive they are in resolving any issues that arise. As a rule, it’s better if they’re telling you about problems once they’re fixed, rather than relying on you to sort them out. If that’s not the case, you might want to find one willing to put work in remotely.
What certifications do you have?
One way of ensuring that your MSP has the level of working knowledge your IT systems will need is by asking what certifications and accreditations they possess. You likely won’t have much knowledge of what their qualifications all mean, but if they can tell you about them with confidence and with some explanation, that’s a good sign. For instance, if you’ll be using Microsoft applications and/or servers, you’ll want them to have some qualifications relating to Microsoft.
Is there a chance your monthly costs will vary?
Your previously discussed SLA should outline how much it will cost to employ an MSP, but you should also ask if these costs are likely to vary much. Although there might be periods when you spend more (for example, if you choose to grow the network or set up another location), you’ll ultimately want to know what you’re going to have to spend each month so that you can plan accordingly.
What insurance cover do you have?
Hopefully, you’ll never have any need for the insurance of your MSP, but it’s good to know that there’s a good level of protection in place just in case anything does go wrong. Therefore, you should definitely speak to your MSP about what cover they hold and how this extends to you, particularly with regard to data loss, which can make an even bigger financial impact that losing physical systems.
Can you accommodate potential growth over a long period of time?
While growth might seem like a possibility for the distant future right now, it’s reassuring to know that your MSP can grow with you as your business succeeds. By looking at their client list, you should be able to see how large some of the companies are that they work with – it might seem like a far off dream, but if your company is on par with them in size one day, then it’s good to know you’ll be able to carry on relying on the same MSP!