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10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Managed Service Provider

Selecting a managed service provider (MSP) is by no means an easy task, and it’s important to do your homework thoroughly before making the plunge into this new relationship. Factors like pricing and service level agreements may be obvious points to ask a potential MSP about, but nontechnical professionals often wonder if there are other important questions they’re overlooking as they choose an MSP. And, there may very well be!

We’ve compiled this list of 10 questions to help you dig a little deeper as you evaluate MSPs:

1. What is the managed service provider’s full service portfolio?

Although your business might just be shopping around for managed IT services at the moment, it is still a good idea to ask about the range of services an MSP offers. For example, do they offer cybersecurity? Cloud services? Data backup and recovery? IT procurement services? It is likely that your IT needs will change as your business evolves over time, and having a “one-stop-shop” for IT equipment and services is a major convenience that can be cost-saving as well.


2. Does the managed service provider offer customized plans?

Established service packages that are fashioned around common groupings of business IT needs are a great convenience, to be sure. But it is still important for MSPs to offer customized plans because pre-packaged plans may not fit every business’ specific IT needs. Customization options empower you to work with the MSP to create a service plan that is tailored to your business’ needs and preferences. This includes identifying the areas of your business that require the most support, determining the level of service you require, and ensuring that the services offered align with your business’ larger objectives. Importantly, a customized plan can also help your business to avoid paying for unneeded services, helping you to get the best value for your investment.


3. Does the managed service provider offer dedicated engineers?

Dedicated engineers provide a wealth of benefits, but not every MSP offers this option. So, make sure to ask about this specifically. By working closely with your business, dedicated engineers develop a deep understanding of your business operations, IT infrastructure, and goals. This allows the engineer to provide personalized recommendations and solutions that are tailored to your company’s specific needs. This familiarity also enhances communication and fosters a consistent and collaborative relationship between the engineer and your business.


4. Does the managed service provider offer both onsite and remote support?

Onsite and remote support have their own advantages and limitations, and many businesses require a flexible approach to IT support to meet their unique needs. Onsite support involves sending an engineer to the client’s location to provide hands-on support, while remote support involves providing assistance via phone, email, or remote desktop software. When you work with an MSP that offers both onsite and remote support, you have the flexibility to choose the type of support that best suits your needs. For example, if there is a hardware issue that requires physical access to the device, onsite support may be required. However, if the issue is software-related, remote support may be sufficient.

5. Do they offer a 24-hour help desk?

Help desk services play a crucial role in both fully outsourced and co-managed IT services. It is important to verify that the MSP does in fact offer help desk services and that this service is available 24/7/365. You never know when IT issues will rear their pesky heads, so having around-the-clock support is essential.


6. Is their help desk staffed internally or outsourced?

Also, take the time to ask about how they staff their help desk. This service may be outsourced by some MSPs, and in that case, you would have some additional homework to do to learn about the help desk contractor’s credentials, business practices, location, and business reputation. Internally staffed help desk teams are trained and managed according to the standards of the MSP, resulting in a more consistent experience for customers. Internal help desk staff for U.S.-based MSPs are also more likely to themselves be located within the U.S., which is another factor to consider.


7. Are there co-management as well as outsourcing options for managed IT services?

Although fully outsourcing IT management is an ideal option for many businesses, a great number of businesses prefer a co-managed IT arrangement. Co-management options allow your business to have greater control over your IT infrastructure while still receiving the support and expertise of the MSP. Co-management options typically involve the MSP working closely with your in-house IT team to provide support and guidance, while allowing your business to retain control over certain aspects of its IT operations. This can be especially important for businesses that have complex IT infrastructures or that require a high level of customization.


8. Can the managed service provider assist your business with strategic IT planning?

Technology now occupies a central role in business strategy. As IT continues to advance, businesses need to keep up with its evolving capabilities in order to stay competitive. To get the most out of your IT, it is important to partner with an MSP who can provide guidance on strategic uses of technology. An MSP who is prepared to support your business with strategic IT planning will offer a collection of strategic services, such as assessments, technology roadmapping, budget planning, vendor management, and training and support services.


9. Who are the managed service provider’s technology partners?

In addition to learning about the services and solutions the MSP offers, be sure to ask who their technology partners are. It is important that technology partners are well respected in the industry, and it can be especially beneficial if the MSP offers a diverse portfolio of technologies. A diverse range of solutions partners allows the MSP to tailor solutions to meet your business’ specific needs. This ensures that your business receives the most appropriate solutions and services for your business, and can help you optimize your IT infrastructure and operations.


10. What professional certifications do their staff possess?

Another important area to ask an MSP about is professional certifications among their technical staff. Certifications demonstrate that the MSP possesses a high level of expertise and knowledge in specific areas of technology and with specific technology manufacturers (e.g., Microsoft, Cisco). Certifications reflect an MSP’s ability to meet certain quality standards, such as best practices, security protocols, and compliance regulations. Certifications often require MSPs to keep pace with industry trends and best practices. This can help MSPs stay ahead of the curve and provide your business with the most innovative and effective solutions and services.

As a managed service provider serving small and medium-sized businesses for over 25 years, NexusTek offers a broad range of managed IT, cybersecurity, and cloud services that are customizable to your business’ needs and leverage best-in-class technologies.

Are you interested in learning more about what managed services can do for your business?