10 Questions to Ask when hiring an IT Managed Service Provider

Choosing the right Managed Service Provider (MSP) matters. The right MSP will provide you with valuable IT support that will help you grow your company.

The wrong one… well, let’s focus on getting the right one.

You want to ensure that the managed service provider you hire will effectively support you in achieving your goals. They should be easy to work with and give you the confidence to stop doing any IT work yourself.

So, we’ve come up with a few questions that you should ask.

(Also read Understanding the Role of a Managed Service Provider).

Here are the interview questions we recommend you ask managed service providers

Start with Values

The key to hiring anybody is ensuring that they align with your core values. If there isn’t a values match, working together will be a painful experience. So, look at the questions you would ask employees to understand their core values and ask your prospective MSPs the same ones. Make sure there is a fit.

1. What Services Do You Offer?

Understanding the full range of services an MSP offers is fundamental.

You may not be well versed in technology, and you shouldn’t have to be, but some of the key technical areas you want to list for are:

  • Network Management: Monitoring and maintaining your network infrastructure.
  • Cybersecurity: Protecting your data from threats.
  • Cloud Services: Managing cloud infrastructure and services.
  • Help Desk Support: Providing technical support for your team.

2. How do you tailor your offering to our needs?

The services question above is a lowball question. They should answer this easily, think of it like asking a plumber if they work on pipes.

But since your IT plumbing is specific to your business, you want to understand how their offering meets your needs. You want to know that they are addressing specific problems you have and that they have experience with your most important software packages.

It is important that they conduct regular business reviews with you where they understand your business needs rather than wow you with technical data.

Every MSP will be able to talk about their services; the better ones will be clear about how they get specific about you.

3. What Experience Do You Have in My Industry or Situation?

You want an MSP who is familiar with your problems and can help you use technology to manage your business more effectively.

This might mean that they have industry experience.

Or they have experience with your situation; maybe you are an education non-profit, and what you really care about is that they have some experience with organizations raising money, not education.

Experience can go across industries, but often, we find that this means they have to be even narrower. Instead of “CPAs,” they work with “CPAs who use Thompson Reuters.”

What work matters to you, and how can you be sure they can help you with that work?

4. How Do You Handle Data Security and Compliance?

Data security is paramount. Inquire about:

  • Security Protocols: Measures they take to protect your data.
  • Compliance: Their experience with industry regulations (e.g., HIPAA, GDPR).

5. What is Your Availability and Response Time?

Downtime can be costly, but so can 24/7 support. So you want to understand what options they offer. In addition to availability, you want to know what service levels they can agree to. So ask about:

  • 24/7 Support: Do they offer round-the-clock assistance? Do they offer options?
  • Response Service Levels: What are their service level agreements for response and resolution times?

6. Ask for References and Case Studies.

References are nice, but they can also be a waste of time because few companies will introduce you to people who are unhappy with their services.

So, ask for references, but take them with a grain of salt.

Ask about case studies and examples; this will show you what is important to them and how they answer questions.

A great exercise is to give them a hypothetical and see how they respond. What is an issue you have? Present it to them and see how they’d deal with it.

7. What is Your Pricing Model?

Most MSPs charge a monthly fee for support. This is good because it aligns incentives: They have an incentive to do better work to keep costs down, and you want them to do good work!

Understand:

  • How do they bill (per user, computer, location?)
  • What services are included?
  • What services might you need to add on?
  • How do the prices change with service level (what happens when you go from 5 days a week support to 7 days a week support)?

8. What is your onboarding process?

They should have a clear, well-defined process. It should include:

  • Administrative onboarding: how will you start working with them even before they make technology changes?
  • Data: How do they plan to migrate your systems and data?
  • Systems Implementation: what systems do they need to implement and when?
  • Computer Implementation: will they need to work on each computer? How will they minimize disruption?
  • Training: Support for training your team on new systems and processes.

9. How Do You Ensure Scalability?

If your business is going to grow and continuity of support is important to you ask about how they can scale with your organization. Some MSPs are great with 10-user clients but can’t handle 100-user clients. That may or may not be okay with you.

10. What is Your Approach to Proactive Monitoring and Maintenance?

Proactive maintenance can prevent issues before they arise. Inquire about their monitoring tools and processes. They should have an impressive program to prevent issues and keep you up to date.

Okay, maybe more than 10

I meant this to be 10 questions. But then it became 11 (if you include values) with sub-questions. You don’t have to ask them all, but you do want to understand each of these areas. It’s the best way to ensure you have the right partner for your growth.

Similar Posts