8 Questions to Ask Your Next Managed Services Provider

If you are a small to medium sized business, you rely on technology but may not have the knowledge and resources to properly manage that technology. That’s where managed services providers (MSPs) come in.

Companies of this type handle things like software, data storage, data backup and recovery, and network security. It’s a lot to handle, so you want to have a competent provider in your corner.

Perhaps you are thinking about hiring a managed services provider for the first time or maybe you could use an upgrade. Either way, here are some questions to ask when choosing a managed services provider in Raleigh, NC.

What specific services are included in the contract?

This might sound obvious, but you want to know what services are available in the subscription you select. This is important for two reasons. First, you want to know if your business will be left responsible for any IT related services.

Second, you will want to know if some services require a higher subscription level. You wouldn’t want to start with a subscription at an attractive price only to find yourself upgrading to a more expensive one after a few months when you find you need more from your MSP.

Do you have experience in my industry?

You might be looking at a managed services provider that is excellent in many regards but doesn’t know the first thing about your industry. If you are a car dealer you may not want to work with a provider who focuses on the defense industry.

Managed services are necessarily customized to the specific client, and it’s best to work with a provider that knows how to work with your industry. It’s not always easy to tell from looking at an MSP’s website which industries it has served. The best thing to do is ask.

What safeguards do you have in place against natural disasters?

Part of having a relationship with an MSP is preparing for the worst. Make sure your next MSP knows what risks may disrupt service, including but not limited to natural disasters.

They should be able to explain to you how they would use systems like generators or multiple data storage locations to keep your systems intact in the event of a disaster.

They should have a clear plan that they can explain to you. If they can’t even explain their disaster response, how well do you think they’ll perform in a real disaster?

What does it take to cancel the contract?

Obviously, you want everything to go well, but sometimes relationships just don’t work out. When this happens, you want to have an escape hatch.

Unfortunately, an MSP may want the opposite: if they are less than upstanding, they may sneak unreasonable charges or requirements into the cancellation terms. On the other hand, if the cancellation terms are mild, that’s a good sign the provider is confident of retaining clients on the merits of their services.

Is the initial rate promotional?

A promotional rate is not necessarily a bad thing, but the duration of the promotional rate and the eventual normal rate should be obviously stated. If the MSP is trying to hide their high prices behind an overly sweet introductory rate, beware.

How do you keep your technology up to date?

It’s critical that your MSP keeps its technology up to date, and you deserve to know how they will do it. Ask about specifics, including whether their current software is up to date and when it will next be updated.

When things are working well, you shouldn’t even notice updates; your processes should just run better and faster, without interruptions. But when you are choosing a provider, it pays to understand the upgrading process, so you can be sure they have a robust method for delivering you up to date services.

What are we required to do to stay up to date?

This is a place to watch out for. If the MSP places onerous requirements on you to keep your in-house tech up to the minute, it may be because they are leaning on you to do the very job you hired them for.

Worse, if you’re required to purchase new hardware directly from them, this could be just an opportunity to for them to price gouge you.

Can you give customer references?

It’s a good idea to check with existing customers of the MSP to see if they are satisfied. Was the provider competent and a pleasure to work with? Or were they a constant source of headaches?

This isn’t a complete list of questions to ask, but it’s a good start. Next time you are shopping around for an MSP, make sure you know enough to make the right decision.

And if you are thinking about choosing a managed service provider in Raleigh, look no further than CSP, Inc. Click here to learn more.

Atif Mallo

Atif Mallo is a freelance blogger with huge interest in technology, science, life hacks and health. He loves coffee, cheesecake and chess. Drop a line in comments to leave feedback for him.

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