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5 CRITICAL QUESTIONS TO ASK A MANAGED SERVICE PROVIDER BEFORE PARTNERING WITH THEM

The right managed service provider becomes your business partner

Looking to switch your I.T. provider?

As a small-mid-sized business owner, you know it is essential to have someone reliable and trustworthy to keep your technology running smoothly. However, you have probably figured out by now that in-house I.T. services are far too costly for your business, or you are simply unsatisfied with your current I.T. support. So now it’s time to look for another solution… You decide that maybe it’s time to hire a managed service provider.

 

What is a Managed Service Provider?

An MSP is essentially an outsourced I.T. provider that uses a proactive approach. Meaning, they prevent I.T. complexities from happening through continuous monitoring and patch management. Many small-medium-sized businesses turn to MSPs to properly manage their network due to the affordability of their services. MSPs typically use a monthly flat-rate subscription model, so you don’t have to worry about unexpected I.T. charges.

 

Why is it important to choose the right MSP?

Simply stated, your company’s success and possibly survival depends on having a competent and trustworthy MSP. Having the right I.T. provider is key to reducing downtime, protecting your business credentials, and growing your company.

 

So how do I know who is the right Managed Service Provider for my business?

These 5 questions will help you make an informed decision about hiring the next MSP for your business.

  1. How do you grant access and control my data?
  2. What does your cyber incident response plan look like?
  3. How do you continuously monitor and re-evaluate solutions to optimize costs?
  4. What kind of costs/measures would it take to bring our environment up to your modern security and compliance standards?
  5. What experience do you have in my industry?

How do you grant access and control my data?

One essential question to ask the potential MSP should be regarding the type of control the technicians will have over your company’s data. Ask the MSP if their technicians will have standing privileges to all your I.T. assets (unlimited access to all your data at any time) or if they will go through a process to request access (i.e., limited access that is time-bound). This is crucial information for you to uncover before selecting an MSP since standing privileges are a known security risk. If standing privileges become compromised by hackers, they will be given access to all your I.T. resources and credentials. To avoid these security risks, look to partner with well-established MSPs that limit access to their clients’ data, continuously provide security training for their technicians, and possess credible security certifications.

What does your cyber incident response plan look like?

Be sure to ask MSPs about their cyber response plans. A reliable MSP should have policies and procedures in place to limit exposure. Ideally, you would want to select an MSP that immediately responds to the cyber breach with a plan to track, contain, and remedy the breach. However, keep in mind that although some providers may have policies and procedures to limit your exposure, there are never any guarantees for 100% prevention of cyber-attacks. Therefore, it is vital to partner with a reputable MSP that can confidently explain their cyber incident response plan. It should be apparent if the MSP has the necessary expertise and knowledge to proactively protect you from any cyber-attacks and address them effectively based on their response to this question.

How do you continuously monitor and re-evaluate solutions to optimize costs?

To ensure your company does not overspend on technology support, you should have a good understanding of how the MSP will monitor and re-evaluate your technology. Ideally, you should select an MSP that conducts quarterly technology reviews. QTRs are meetings held by you and your I.T. service provider to evaluate the efficiency of your current technology investments. These technology reviews ensure that you are not paying for services your business does not need, keeps your technology updated, and improves your compliance with security and regulations.

An MSP is essentially an outsourced I.T. provider that uses a proactive approach. Meaning, they prevent I.T. complexities from happening through continuous monitoring and patch management.

What kind of costs/measures would it take to bring our environment up to your modern security and compliance standards?

This is a great question to ask the MSP upfront, so you can determine what it will take to manage your risk at peak performance. You might discover that to optimize your technology investments fully, you will need to upgrade specific components and pay additional fees to provide your business with premier security. If the MSP states that they can take over your business technology and fully optimize it without any additional investments, you should be cautious of this provider. Many times that means the MSP did not do a proper I.T. assessment, is planning to hit you with the cost later, or simply lacks the knowledge on how to enhance your technology.

What experience do you have in my industry?

Another major deciding factor in choosing the right MSP is discovering if they have experience in your industry. It would be best to work with an MSP familiar with your vertical who has the necessary knowledge to meet your company’s specific needs. Working with an MSP with experience in your industry means you should have an I.T. provider with the compliance and security expertise required for a sustainable and healthy business.

Selecting the right MSP for your business

Choosing the right MSP for your business is a big deal and should take plenty of thought and consideration. After all, this provider will have access to all your technology and company data. Don’t be afraid to challenge a potential MSP and quiz them on their competency. A good I.T. provider will answer your questions without hesitation. Having a partner you can trust will give you the comfort and peace of mind you need to refocus your resources and energy on growing your business.