There's a big difference between employing managed IT services and designating an "office nerd" to do the job. Learn which one you need.
Remote IT Services: Evaluating a Managed Service Provider
Evaluating a managed service provider can be complicated. Here are 12 questions to ask to ensure you find the right remote MSP for your business.
You’re on the hunt for a managed services provider (MSP), but there are seemingly endless possibilities. You need an MSP that is responsive, knowledgeable in their field and yours, and will keep your technology working for, and not against, you.
So how do you choose and what should you look for when evaluating a managed service provider?
12 Questions for Evaluating a Managed Service Provider
When choosing a remote MSP, do some initial research online and make a list of promising candidates. Then, set up meetings with them to assess their compatibility with your business. Here are 12 questions to cover with them:
- How fast do you respond to service requests?
- What services are included in your managed service plan?
- Is your service proactive?
- Do you have established third-party relationships?
- Can you help plan for tech upgrades?
- What technical certifications do you hold?
- What are your service-level agreements?
- Will I have access to metrics on my plan performance?
- Do you understand my industry and its needs?
- How do you help clients save money and lower IT expenses?
- What security services do you provide?
- Do you have a disaster recovery plan?
1. How Fast Do You Respond to Service Requests?
You have a business to run, and time is valuable. The more time you spend mired in technology problems, the less time you have to achieve your business’s goals.
One advantage of using remote IT solutions is that you don’t have to wait for a service provider to travel to your office. A remote MSP can diagnose and solve IT problems wherever they are, which should decrease their response time and your business’s downtime.
Another advantage to using a remote MSP is their ability to respond outside regular business hours. Technology problems erupt outside of the 9-5. An MSP with 24/7/365 monitoring means they are always ensuring everything is running smoothly. Should a problem arise, they can respond immediately instead of waiting for the office to open.
2. What Services are Included in Your Managed Service Plan?
Your MSP should offer everything your business needs to run efficiently. It’s important to know exactly what you’re paying for. You don’t want a plan that only meets some of your needs or covers services that don’t apply to your business. Look for an MSP that offers solutions tailored to your business’s needs.
3. Is Your Service Proactive?
Technology constantly changes. New versions of software and operating systems are regularly released. New hardware is manufactured to meet ever-increasing demands for processing speeds and computing power. Cyber security threats continue to evolve.
Your MSP shouldn’t wait for a problem to arise. It should provide regular maintenance to ensure your organization’s systems are equipped with the latest updates. This keeps your technology updated and more secure, enabling you to focus more on your business and less on technology interference.
4. Do You Have Established Third-Party Technology Vendor Relationships?
An MSP doesn’t work alone. They need the support of software and hardware vendors to resolve major issues. An MSP with strong vendor relationships can expedite service tickets faster than you could if you were dealing directly with a vendor.
Look for an MSP with partner credentials. For example, Omnis Technologies has partnerships with Microsoft, Zyxel Networks, and ioSafe, among others. Our relationship with these companies helps us promptly resolve problems for our clients.
5. Can You Help Plan for Tech Upgrades?
Most technology upgrades happen without you even noticing. Newly released security patches for your operating system or updates in software are often installed in the background while you work or outside of working hours.
However, some major tech upgrades can be very disruptive. For example, if your company is still using Windows 8, you will need to upgrade soon because Microsoft plans to end support for this operating system in January 2023. It’s not as simple as installing the new operating system and going back to work. There may be a whole host of software, hardware, and security upgrades that need to happen.
An MSP can help you plan for necessary upgrades in a way that is least disruptive to your business.
6. What Technical Certifications Do You Hold?
IT is a broad field. There are seemingly endless topics an MSP should be an expert in. You want to ensure the MSP you choose has experience with issues relevant to your business’s needs. Here are some basic certifications to look for:
- Microsoft 365 Fundamentals
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
- PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner
- Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP)
7. What are Your Service-Level Agreements?
A service-level agreement (SLA) is a written contract between your business and your MSP that ensures you’re both on the same page when it comes to the service you’ll receive. This includes:
- Guaranteed response times
- How potential issues will be addressed
- The priority of various services
- Who is responsible for what
This agreement should be reviewed at least annually.
8. Will I Have Access to Metrics on my Plan Performance?
You shouldn’t have to worry if you’re getting your money’s worth. While a quality MSP ensures you don’t have to constantly worry about technology problems, you should also know what they’re doing to keep your mind at ease. Make sure your MSP is transparent about its services by providing regular reports.
9. Do You Understand My Industry and Its Needs?
While every industry uses technology, they don’t all use it the same way. A non-profit uses technology differently than a metal manufacturer. Your MSP should be able to understand your industry’s specific needs. Ask them if they have worked with organizations similar to yours and if they could provide references.
10. How Do You Help Clients Save Money & Lower IT Expenses?
No one wants to spend more money than they have to. A quality MSP should provide IT solutions that provide you with the best value. Are you currently using software that is more expansive than you need? Your MSP should be able to spot this and provide you with affordable solutions that better match your needs.
11. What Security Services Do You Provide?
Remote IT solutions should include IT and data security services. Ask prospective MSPs what security services they offer. Ask if they would perform a security audit for your environment. They should be able to deliver a professional audit that shows the current state of your security and potential solutions to any weaknesses. If this is beyond their reach, look elsewhere.
An MSP should also offer daily backup and cloud services to protect your organization in case of cyber attacks. They should also deliver constant threat monitoring and regular penetration testing to ensure your business is secure.
This is particularly important for businesses with a fully remote or hybrid business model. Remote worker endpoint security mitigates vulnerabilities associated with remote access.
12. Do You Have a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Disaster often happens when you least expect it. The COVID-19 pandemic was a great reminder that life can be quickly turned upside down.
While no one can predict when disaster will strike, the best MSPs plan for the worst. Ask your prospective MSP if they have a plan for issues such as:
- Data breaches
- Identity theft
- Natural disasters
- Cyber attacks
Choosing a Remote MSP That’s Right For Your Business
Don’t trust your remote-managed IT services to just anyone. Look for a remote MSP that understands your business and can provide service that fully meets your needs.
From basic computer services to server and infrastructure projects, Omnis Technologies has the MSP experience to ensure your business thrives.
Contact us today to see how we can ensure your technology is working for you.