IT managed support is a core function used by many organisations.
Here, a Managed Service Provider (MSP) takes care of all your IT services requirements. This could ultimately boost your core business functions, increasing efficiency and allowing your staff to focus on value-added projects. However, not every IT managed support provider is created equal…
In this blog post, we reveal the seven questions you must ask before you hire a managed service provider.
7 questions to ask before hiring a managed service provider:
1. Tell me about your business
To start, ask your potential MSP for a synopsis of their business. While you’re bound to have your own requirements and questions, you may also want to ask the following:
- What services do you offer?
- What facilities do you have?
- How many staff do you have?
- Who are your partners?
- What is your business roadmap?
- What are your core competencies?
- How do you work with your clients?
Service quality is another major consideration. You should analyse an MSP based on their strategies and approach to your business. So, you may also want to ask the following:
- Will you help build my business strategy? It depends on what you want from your MSP, but some may offer this level of service.
- What do you do internally and what do you outsource? Sometimes, it makes sense to outsource certain tasks, but make sure you understand who will be providing what service and why.
- What is included in the price? Ascertain exactly what you’re playing for. Otherwise, you may have gaps in your support. So, make sure you know what is outside of their scope.
2. What are your hours of business?
IT disasters don’t always occur during your standard business hours. So, you need an IT managed support provider that’s ready to help on a 24/7 basis.
Before you hire a provider, check their terms of service with regards to what is on offer and when. You don’t want to be without IT support when disaster strikes.
At Clovertec, we provide 24/7 on-site and off-site IT support, and can help your business in any situation – at any time.
For example, when we recently worked with Morley Glass – a UK specialist manufacturer of integral blinds and glazing units – they discovered they may be without the internet when they moved to their new premises.
This scenario could have cost the business at estimated £630,000 because two-thirds of its new enquiries are received through email and its virtual fax system.
So, we stepped up and worked an entire weekend to put an emergency solution in place, and ensured it was business as usual on Monday morning.
3. What other companies have you worked with (specifically within my industry)?
A good IT managed support provider will have a solid portfolio of customers to hand. So, ask for testimonials from those customers, examples of their work and try to focus on businesses with a similar set up as your own.
This can help you assess the compatibility of your provider with your company in the long-term.
If you do speak to an MSP’s existing customers, you may want to ask them how satisfied they are with their service. What are their response times like? What sort of solutions do they implement?
At Clovertec, 99% of our customers are very satisfied with the services we have provided them, and, as a result of our knowledge and dedication, we recently obtained Microsoft Silver Partner status.
If you really want to test your proposed MSP, you may also want to ask them what their biggest client-facing issue was and how they handled it. This can help you gauge their response to a real-life situation.
4. What’s your typical response time, and how do you deal with incoming requests?
When disaster strikes, you need your MSP to act swiftly. That’s why, at Clovertec, we close most support tickets on the day they’re logged.
During our work with Morley Glass, for example, we helped the company’s CEO fix his laptop connectivity issues within an hour, before he went to Italy. In short, we’re always on hand to help.
When assessing your proposed MSP, find out how they deal with incoming requests. For example, how do they prioritise tickets? Are tickets managed on a first-come-first-serve basis? Who deals with those tickets?
You should also make sure your IT managed support provider offers SLAs. When it comes to SLAs, find out what is available here too. Is your SLA flexible? Or can you adapt it as your business requirements change?
It’s also important to fully understand the fine details of your SLA before choosing your MSP partner. You don’t want to be locked into a long-term contract that’s no longer fit for purpose.
5. How do you maintain vendor relationships and support new solutions?
A professional MSP should be committed to the vendors they partner with, as well as their own products and services.
This is an important consideration, affecting your bottom line. Your IT service partner will recommend specific solutions to you to invest in. So, you must ensure they have a solid portfolio of providers and partners.
When we worked with Morley Glass, our dedicated project management team developed relationships with both providers and in-house technicians to organise the correct network cabling for the company’s new premises.
In fact, Clovertec became the point of contact for the electrician, leaving the team to focus on the move.
You may also want to ask how your MSP can reduce your company’s workload, improve your company’s efficiency and reduce costs.
6. What’s your maintenance/compliance strategy?
Prevention is better than cure and things move fast in the digital landscape. It’s important to find an MSP that embraces continuous learning and keeps up with the latest trends and innovations in the marketplace.
So, ask your MSP how they prioritise the maintenance and upgrading of your IT infrastructure, as well as keep their skills relevant. For example, does your MSP use assessments to identify potential technology and security gaps? What is their disaster recovery/business continuity plan?
If you’re a compliance-based company, does your MSP understand the relevant legislation and regulatory requirements? What compliance frameworks do they support? It’s key to find an MSP that takes a proactive, not reactive, approach to your IT support.
7. How are you going to boost my business performance?
You need to make sure you find the right MSP match to help your business grow and compete now and in the future. In other words, you don’t just want someone who reacts to any IT disaster you have, but an MSP that is focusing on proactively optimising your IT infrastructure and performance.
So, make sure the MSP is aligned with your expectations and has a clear roadmap to measure its success.
During our work with Morley Glass, we worked closely with the business, aligning our work to its short- and long-term objectives. This included increasing its preventative maintenance measures to create long-term savings.
In fact, we proved our worth during the move and have continued to provide Morley Glass with a range of managed IT support services. According to the company’s CEO, Ian Short:
“You can’t put a price on Clovertec’s service.”
We couldn’t put it better ourselves!
Morley Glass is just one example of how Clovertec can deliver a range of comprehensive IT solutions.
From reactive support to preventative maintenance and long-term IT management, we can tailor our service to ensure your company’s needs are fully met now and in the future.