Managed Services - Technology

15 Questions to ask before hiring an MSP

So you have decided it’s time to hire an IT Managed Service Provider, but you have no idea where to start? We’ve outlined 15 questions to ask to make sure you’re making the best decision for your company.

1.  What do you do?

This sounds simple, but many companies call themselves a Managed Service Provider so having a clear understanding of the exact services they can provide for you and more importantly if they meet your needs should be first and foremost.


2.  Where are you located?

Finding out where the company is based can give you ease of mind. They have an office in your city? That’s great and hopefully means they will respond quicker when those emergencies come up. Likewise, you’ll be able to build a relationship with this MSP and your IT consultant can learn about your business in order to better serve your technology needs.


3.  Who are some of your other clients?

References are everything. Working with an MSP who doesn’t work with companies your size or perhaps doesn’t have a client base at all should be a red flag. For us, our clients would be more than happy to hop on a call to give us a reference for potential clients and this is something that is common across many service based companies.


4.  What experience do you have and what is your background?

Perhaps you don’t have an in office IT employee and the MSP will manage all IT Helpdesk and IT projects, therefore knowing their technical background is extremely important. Think of it this way, it’s better to ask these questions prior to having your network go out at 2AM and not being able to get the issue solved due to the lack of technical ability from your MSP.


5.  What’s the cost?

This sounds simple, but many IT Managed Services Companies charge very differently. Do they charge based on every time you pick up the phone? Put in a helpdesk ticket? Drive to your location? More than likely the answer to that is yes, and these fees add up quickly. (Interested in not paying those fees? Check out our custom IT Services for more info)


6.  How do you implement?

Almost all MSPs will need to install software onto your company devices in order to manage them remotely. Find out how they do this. After hours when it won’t disrupt your working hours or in phases over the course of several days? The main thing is that it shouldn’t be a headache for you or your business.


7.  What is your IT project process?

MSPs don’t just manage your computers and handle desktop support, they also can recommend IT solutions and manage the entire process of these projects. Find out what this looks like, as it will vary from each provider.


8.  How long does it take before we are up and running under your service?

It’s always important to know when your service begins. Is there a waiting period or can you start making calls the moment you sign the dotted line? Sometimes there’s a lead time to get your company set up on their side of things.


9.  Setup fees?

Just like knowing the monthly costs or monthly surcharges, it’s important to know if there are set up fees. It’s also good to ask about these costs as some MSPs will waive this fee for you. If you happen to work with us, you’re in good hands as we don’t charge set up fees.


 10.  Is there a contract?

We live in a day and time where you can sign up for Netflix for one month and cancel with no added fees. Contracts are becoming this way in the MSP world. Make sure you aren’t signing a 3 year contract or a contract that doesn’t make sense for your business. Or even better, find an MSP that doesn’t require a contract that way you are in complete control of your IT services.


11.  Vendor management?

Ever had problems with software and had to sit on hold trying to resolve them? This is something that your MSP should handle for you. Although several IT companies don’t handle vendor management, this is a HUGE benefit for you, as it’s one less thing you have to worry about. A good MSP will agree to work with the vendors, a great MSP will tell you that they will work with any vendor to resolve any issues before you ask.


12.  Equipment/software markup?

It’s more common for MSPs to charge mark ups on the software and hardware that you purchase therefore it’s extremely important to find out what that mark up will be. $100? $200?

Our clients who have a custom IT solution pay no markup – that’s right, we pass along all of our savings directly to you.


13.  Willing to work around your budget?

The IT services that you pay for need to work for you and that includes within your budget.

Sure, you might lose some services or pay a little more when you need added services but finding an MSP who is willing to find a solution within your budget is something to look for.


14.  Trip/labor charges?

These types of charges will make your monthly fee sky rocket. Find out these fees ahead of time, or find an MSP that doesn’t charge for trips or labor. The fact is, if you are being charged $70 to roll a truck to your site and then $110/hr for a tech to fix an issue on site, you have just spent $180 for him to just show up. The way I look at clients from an MSP’s point of view, is if you are paying me a monthly fee to manage and maintain your systems, and something breaks, why do you have to pay me again to fix something that was covered under that monthly contract?


15.  List the services covered under a typical contract?

Of course you will ask this, and the MSP should provide you with a scope of work. If they do not, do not sign any paper work until that is provided. The scope of work is what the MSP is responsible for under the contract or agreement. Make sure the items that were quoted are in the SOW.


Without these questions you could find yourself quite unhappy with services provided by an MSP. Most of these are common sense, but just treat the MSP like you are interviewing a new candidate for a position. You are the one in control of your IT services and asking the right questions before signing the dotted line can save you a lot of time, effort and headaches.

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