Managed services as a concept brings with it a host of different benefits for nearly every type of business you can think of. But one thing people don’t realise until it’s far too late is that not all managed services providers are created equally.
If you really want to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck and that you’re creating the best possible situation for yourself, your employees, and ultimately your brand, there are a few key questions you’ll need to ask any company that you’re thinking of partnering with.
Question 1: “What Products Do You Champion?”
One of the most important questions to ask any new managed services provider is also one of the most obvious: “Which specific products do you champion, and why?”
Are they over the moon about Microsoft’s infrastructure, or Google’s? Is it because they have a deal set up with those respective companies and make money every time they bring someone new into the fold, or do they genuinely believe that these products will help your business excel from a technological standpoint? The answers to these questions should help make your decision easier.
Question 2: “What Is Your Cloud Model?”
Another key question to ask any MSP you’re thinking about going with has to do with their existing cloud model, or lack thereof.
In the modern era, the cloud has reached an almost unparalleled level of flexibility — you can put as much or as little into the cloud as you want. However, for this to work in the way you need, your MSP must understand the benefits and intricacies of the cloud, not to mention offer a model that is up-to-date with the times.
Question 3: “Do You Have Experience in My Specific Industry?”
This is a big one, as failing to get a solid answer to this question up-front could potentially lead to disastrous consequences.
The rules governing data privacy and security vary wildly from industry to industry, and you need to make sure that your MSP is aware of this from the start. Keeping patient records private in a health care setting comes with different stipulations than managed services in the financial sector, for example, and vice versa.
You need to make sure that your MSP has experience with not only your industry’s unique needs but also its rules and regulations.
Question 4: “What Does Your Tech Support Look Like?”
This is another essential question because if anything ever goes wrong, you need to know that you have someone you can turn to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Keep in mind that even after the initial work is completed, this is still a company that you’re going to be working with closely on a regular basis. Know its tech support model and see if they are ready and willing to help (including providing services like training and ongoing education for new users), or if they’re only going to stifle your progress and innovation (not to mention adaption).
Question 5: “Do You Have Any Awards or Certifications?”
The answer to this question will help you separate the men from the boys, so to speak.
Awards and certifications are what MSPs use to give themselves competitive advantages and to really make themselves stand out among a variety of companies all offering similar base services. Knowing if an MSP holds awards or certifications, particularly in the area of security, can help guide your decision when shopping around.
Question 6: “How Up-to-Date Is Your Knowledge?”
Along the same lines, it’s important to find out what an MSP’s own process for staying up-to-date on all the latest technologies truly is.
The tech world moves at a lightning speed, particularly when it comes to the types of services that these companies actually offer. How can you expect to leverage the power of the latest and greatest that IT has to offer if your managed services provider isn’t willing to do the same?
Question 7: “What, Exactly, Is Your Pricing Model?”
This is one of the most important questions that you can ask of any new managed services provider because price is one of the major factors that will mean the difference between getting exactly what you need and eliminating some of the cost benefits of going with an MSP in the first place.
Does an MSP charge per user or per laptop or other connected machine? Do they have a one-time cost? Are there any hidden fees or other charges that you need to know about? Based on this information, you can get an idea of what you’ll really be paying moving forward.
Question 8: “Can You Give Me What I’m Really After?”
You have a very specific goal in mind; otherwise, you wouldn’t be researching managed services providers in the first place. Are you looking to bring a newfound sense of mobility to your infrastructure? Do you want to move as much as possible into the cloud? Are you just looking to build yourself and your employees a modern workplace?
For the absolute best results (and best relationship moving forward), ask yourself these questions first and then find a managed services provider with proven experience in that particular area.