As you’re vetting your options for a managed IT service provider (MSP), you likely have many questions. So before you sign an agreement, you should take the time to get to know what an MSP can offer you and how they’ll mesh with your company.
At The KR Group, we view these interviews similarly to a pre-employment screen. You need to know if we can give you the IT support you need and if we’re a good fit for your organization.
Business owners who go through this process are less likely to have unmet expectations. Instead, their launch into managed IT services should be seamless and, more importantly, efficient.
So what questions should you ask your proactive MSP before you sign their contract? Here are a few we recommend:
- What are the pros and cons of the prospective MSP’s services?
- How much will managed services cost?
- What is in and out of a contract?
- How does the MSP provide cybersecurity protection?
- Are there any references you can call?
Your MSP should have answers to all of these questions, and the right provider for you will make you feel confident in their ability to handle all of your IT needs.
What Are the Pros and Cons?
Think of this question as a twist on the tried and true interview question asking about greatest strengths and weaknesses.
You’ve heard about the benefits of managed services and the advantages of the MSP you’re considering. While it’s always good to recap, you also want to know what problems could lie ahead if you give them your business.
This question also gives the MSP a chance to show their humility.
Perfection may not be realistic. However, an MSP that can name their weaknesses and identify ways they’re addressing them speaks volumes about the type of organization you’d be working with.
How Much Will Managed IT Services Cost?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer we provide in this article.
How much you’ll spend on managed IT services depends on the size of your organization, your IT needs, what solutions you want to be included in your contract, your cybersecurity needs, and about a dozen other factors.
That being said, if you’re at this point of working with a prospective MSP and are seriously considering giving them your business, they shouldn’t hem and haw about giving you an estimate.
They should have enough information about your IT needs to have a close estimate on how much their services will cost, even if they say it with the caveat that it needs to be reviewed in the final contract.
And if you’re looking for online information on approximately how much a contract could cost, check out our pricing article.
What Is in and out of a Contract?
Your MSP should become your trusted IT partner and the first person you call when you have a problem or need tech help.
However, a contract won’t cover everything.
This is frequently the case for specific technology components that your MSP doesn’t have the partnerships or training to work with.
If this applies to your business, take a detailed inventory of all the IT components your organization relies on and check if your MSP would cover issues related to those solutions.
Additionally, ask about any other services that could fall outside the scope of your contract. A few common examples include:
- Adding or removing users
- New implementations
- Certain system upgrades
- Security breaches
How Does the MSP Provide Cybersecurity Protection?
Having a robust security posture is critical for your organization’s longevity, and the statistics are grim for those who take a lax approach to cybersecurity.
So, when you hand over your IT to a third party, you must ask questions about cybersecurity. This is two-fold.
1) What protection are you offered?
At a minimum, an MSP should include next-generation antivirus, anti-spam, firewalls, DNS filtration, and remote monitoring to help keep you secure.
Increasingly, MSPs are bolstering the security offerings included in their contracts to take more of a managed security services provider’s (MSSP) approach to your cybersecurity.
Unfortunately, even with the best security protection in place, there is no guarantee that you won’t be the victim of a breach, so your MSP will also likely recommend you look into cybersecurity insurance.
While your MSP provides a high degree of security, you are still fully responsible if a breach were to occur. Your MSP can put the best tools, protocols, processes, and training in place, but there are still things that are out of their control. A cybersecurity insurance policy protects your company.
2) What security measures does the MSP implement in their organization?
Since your MSP will be connected to your IT environment, you’ll also want to know how they keep their data secure.
Ask them about their organization’s security policies and protocols and if they have a cybersecurity expert on staff.
Modern cyberattacks target the initial victim and any affiliated companies the attacker can infiltrate. So if your MSP isn’t protecting its own IT environment, you could be at risk, too.
Are There Any References You Can Call?
Even if you’re feeling confident in the prospective MSP’s ability to handle your IT needs and provide the service your organization requires, you should still double-check current customers’ opinions of the provider.
The internet has simplified this process. For example, you can quickly look up an organization’s Facebook or Google reviews, and MSPs’ websites should include references and customer satisfaction scores.
However, you should also ask the prospective MSP if they have any customers you could contact as a reference.
This allows you to hear what you can expect from the MSP from an external perspective. If your industry requires specific IT support, you can request a reference from a customer with similar needs to yours for a more detailed account of the service you can expect.
Finding Your New MSP
If you’re a small- or medium-sized business, managed IT services offer several benefits, such as availability, cost-effectiveness, access to highly-skilled engineers, and more.
The best way to take advantage of the promises you’ve heard about managed services is to find an MSP who you know can get the job done.
So before you sign a contract, take the time to ask your prospective MSP about the pros and cons of their services, pricing, the scope of their contracts, and cybersecurity measures. And, ask for references, so you can validate what they’ve said with a customer’s account.
Once you’ve found an MSP who meets your standards, check out our free guide on signing a contract. It reviews all the areas you should pay attention to when signing up for managed services and will help you feel more comfortable with the onboarding process.