15 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Managed IT Service Provider

If you’ve searched for a managed service provider, you might not know where to start. You’re not alone. Many have never outsourced their IT services, so they aren’t sure what they need to know before entering into a partnership. It’s essential to understand an MSPs role in your organization and how the relationship will benefit you. You can do online research and look at MSPs’ websites, but the only true way to get a feel for a company is to ask questions. 

Here are 15 questions that will give you insight into your potential MSP’s environment:

1. What does a service visit look like?
The answer to this question should be fairly straightforward. Although service visits are on a case-by-case basis, a process should be in place to guide their time with you. The provider’s response should give you insight into how quickly they arrive on site after a call as well as what you can expect from them when they arrive.

2. Do you outsource any of your services?
If the provider’s services list is fairly comprehensive, there is a chance that they outsource a portion of what they do. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Adding in a middle man could slow the process down; however, it could speed up certain types of work. Understanding what they prefer to keep in-house and what they choose to outsource—and the logic behind those decisions—will help you get a feel for their business model.

3. How and how often do you communicate with your clients?
This question helps you determine how hands-on the MSP is with its clients and whether or not that works with your needs. If you want someone on-site often and communicating with you frequently, that is something to be aware of. However, you might prefer a company that keeps some distance. Understanding your needs and ensuring they align with the MSP’s work style will go a long way in identifying a successful partnership.

4. What happens if I need help?
You’re going to need help. And whether you need assistance rarely or frequently, you want someone on the other end of the line who is going to take care of the issue as fast as possible. After all, when you have downtime, you’re losing money by the hour. Or worse, if you have a security issue, every minute counts to ensure that it doesn’t turn into something much bigger. Make sure the MSP explains their help-desk process and response times.

5. Can I see references of past clients?
A reputable company will undoubtedly have happy clients who are willing to share their experiences. Requesting references and testimonials is an excellent way to verify that an MSP adds value and focuses on customer service.

6. What sets your company apart from competitors?
The answer to this question will vary greatly from one MSP to another. Each provider will have a specialty or something they’re particularly good at. In Technology Lab’s case, one of our strengths is that we are a certified Apple Authorized Service Provider. If your organization works from a Mac environment, we might be the MSP for you.

7. How do you reduce the workload of our staff?
One goal of hiring an MSP is to take daily IT tasks off the plates of your internal staff. Without the burden of those everyday checklist items, employees can get back to your organization’s core focus and revenue-generating initiatives. The response to this question should give you an idea of how the MSP makes the day-to-day operations easier for your team.

8. How do you help us with compliance?
The pressure of maintaining compliance will not only give your employees security fatigue, but it can also take precious time away from working on growth opportunities. Compliance, as well as overall security, is too important to leave any stone unturned. An MSP that can help you with achieving compliance is a valuable addition to your team.

9. How do expenses compare between internal IT staff and outsourcing?
Beyond the multitude of benefits of hiring an MSP, adding to your bottom line is always a plus. A provider should be able to offer you higher quality services at a lower cost than what you would spend on managing an internal team.

10. What do you offer that we can’t already do with our internal IT staff?
You should always be asking yourself, Why shouldn’t I just do this in-house? And your MSP should always have an answer for that. Organizations don’t outsource IT to try something new—they want results that they can’t get with an internal team. Your MSP should have a straightforward answer that explains why they are the better option.

11. How do you increase our operational efficiency?
A provider can restate many times over that they “increase your operational efficiency.” While that sounds great, how do they plan to do so? The response to this question gets you to the meat of the MSP’s service. You need to know when you hire a provider that you will see results spanning beyond technology.

12. How do you help our organization scale?
When you’re ready to grow, you don’t want your IT holding you back. Asking this question allows the provider to explain what the process would look like if you were to scale quickly. Will all of the equipment be there as you need it? How long does setup take for each device? If you want to hit the ground running, you want your MSP running right along with you.

13. What is your company culture like?
Culture speaks volumes about the company and whether or not you will have a successful relationship. Just as you appreciate your own workplace culture, you will appreciate an MSP that aligns with your goals and values. The response to this question gives you insight into how the MSP works at the ground level—and how they treat their employees and customers.

14. How do you work with our internal IT staff?
If you have an internal IT staff, the relationship they will have with your provider can make all the difference. You want to ensure that your staff will feel comfortable reaching out to and working with an MSP’s team. The MSP should foster a collaborative environment between their team and your staff, acting as an extension of your organization.

15. How do you build a strategy for our long-term business goals?
An MSP’s goal is not to keep your organization afloat; it’s to give you the tools to go further. Your provider is your partner. As such, they work with you to achieve your goals inside and outside of technology. Asking about long-term strategy gives you insight into the provider’s approach and where they plan to begin. Be sure that you’re choosing a provider who listens to you to thoroughly understand your needs before jumping in. 

Fire Away — Technology Lab is Here to Answer Your Questions 

The main priority when searching for managed service providers should be to ask questions until you fully understand everything—and we mean everything. You need a clear picture of who you’re hiring, where your budget is going, and how this helps you achieve short- and long-term goals.

Hiring a managed service provider is not a familiar process for everyone. If there are parts of the IT-outsourcing process that you don’t understand, always ask.

Technology Lab makes IT outsourcing accessible. No matter your level of experience with technology, we explain our processes so that anyone can understand what we do and how we do it. Contact Technology Lab today to learn more about MSPs and how we can help you reach your next level.