There are many things to consider when changing MSPs or Managed Services Providers. The problem with some providers is they assume you understand all the acronyms and buzz words they do. Quickly, your eyes gloss over and you’re thinking about lunch or anything other than technology.

The reason you gloss over is because most of the companies you are talking to want to discuss what they think is important. In reality, they should be discussing what you think is important. So here’s your cheat sheet.  The top 10 questions you should ask before choosing an outside party to manage your technology.

  1. “What do you know about my business?” Beyond what’s listed on your website, does the provider understand the business you’re in? Can they make recommendations for best-of-breed applications that can do more than keep the computer on but also make your people more productive?
  2. “How will we communicate?” MSPs all communicate with their clients differently. Some firms have tickets, remote support desk, onsite visits, annual strategy meetings – but these are not given. Ask your provider how they handle communication.
  3. “How quickly can we expect a response from a support request?” Some providers respond immediately. Others call you once it’s your turn in line. Make sure to find out what qualifies as a low-urgency issue and which issues are responded to immediately.
  4. “Do you focus support on the end-users or the network?” Most IT firms like to build beautiful networks and leave end users out in the cold when Adobe or Outlook doesn’t work. Make sure your provider focuses on end-user support first. It’s how you keep your clients happy.
  5. “Describe your approach for being our ‘CIO’.” The MSP should be acting as your chief architect and strategist, building security, performance and continuity into your solutions. The MSP is the expert. They should not be waiting on you to inform them of your technology related priorities, budgeting, or workflow needs.
  6. “Can you help us with Cyber Security?” At this point, most MSPs can handle your minimum security controls such as antivirus and Windows updates. But in today’s world of ransomware and zero-day vulnerabilities, this is not enough. Your partner needs to offer real security insight such as policy recommendations, network logging, testing for vulnerabilities and end-user training for social engineering.
  7. “What is your cyber security program?” What we mean is, what does the MSP do for its own data security and that of its clients? If the MSP is loose with their own security, you can trust yours will be similarly reactive.
  8. “How do you stay current with evolving technology?” Some MSPs offer expertise in a particular technology while others tend to focus on a specific industry and become smart on a range of technologies within that industry. Neither is better than the other but you should know which you’re getting. We often see tech specialists being very effective for a specific project while industry specialists are effective for overall IT management.
  9. “What certifications do you maintain?” Product certifications, previous experience deploying tools that you use, or simply supporting other firms who use similar tools, is instrumental. For instance, if you are a law firm running PCLaw, make sure the MSP is LexisNexis certified.
  10. “What makes your company a better investment than an in-house IT person?” The MSP should be able to demonstrate the value of working with them. Whether it’s because of industry experience, quality of service, or simply a larger talent pool, they should be prepared with a good answer.

So arm yourself with these essential questions and you’ll know what you’re getting into and what to truly expect from your MSP.