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Important Questions to Ask During Your MSP Search

With hundreds of managed service providers (MSP) to weed through, finding and selecting the right provider may feel overwhelming. The key to streamlining the process? Knowing the right questions to ask and the underlying answers you hope to hear. This post shares just that.

Strategy and Thought Leadership
We’ll begin with a question that will help you determine if the MSP will be a strategic partner to help you stay ahead of the curve about emerging technologies that might benefit your organization:

What do you think are the most critical technology drivers for our business growth?

What you should detect when you ask that question is, do they really understand my business? Further, do they care about what I am trying to do as a business? Have they deeply thought about what the latest in technology is? What are the stable items in technology and how can they move my organization forward?

Stability and Security of IT Environment
Next, it is important to question the processes and procedures the MSP has in place. After all, your MSP will be ensuring your IT environment is up and running day in and day out. Confirm processes are in place that will set you up for success. One way to understand these is to know how they’ll be documented and shared with you.

What documentation will I receive and how often is that documentation updated?

If stability and efficiency are important, your MSP should have great documentation. You should be able to obtain the documentation at any moment, and it should be regularly updated.

Elimination of Day-to-day IT Challenges
Many organizations make the switch to managed services to eliminate day-to-day IT frustrations, therefore, you want to be able to count on your MSP to do just that. The best thing to do is ask for data. Ask the MSP to tell you its average resolution time for tickets, how it handles compliance, and how its customer satisfaction scores compare to the rest of the industry.

Can you share your detailed SLA and CSAT data from the past month?

An organization should be able to quickly share and explain data on its Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) metrics. If this data isn’t available at their fingertips, it likely means the business isn’t managed that closely and you might not receive the advertised levels of service.

Understanding the True Cost of an MSP
There are as many flavors of MSP contracts as there are MSPs. Much like in your personal life, it’s important to understand not just the advertised price, but the total cost of ownership of working with your MSP.

How much do your clients spend beyond the base contract? Why?

Unfortunately, it is not an entirely uncommon scenario for organizations to contract with an MSP only to be burdened with change orders, add-ons, and up sells for services not within the base contract. Unless this expectation was previously established, then it is critical to inquire how much clients typically spend beyond the base contract. Then, and only then, you will know the true cost.

We’ll wrap up with what is, unfortunately, one of the most important questions to ask:

What is the exit plan? Can I get my systems and data back?

At some point, you might be dissatisfied with your MSP and seek a new one. If that happens, what do you do? How do you get your data and systems back? What is the off-boarding process? The answers to these questions will highlight how dedicated your MSP is to client service. Make sure to avoid working with an MSP who only has its best interests in mind. In the world of IT, it is important to steer clear of getting into something that is nearly impossible to exit.

We hope these questions and answers get you on your way to finding and selecting the right MSP for your organization. For tips on ensuring the MSP relationship lasts long term, this guide will be a great resource.


About the Author

Mark Caswell is the Director of Technology for KSM Consulting. Mark leads the team in developing innovative solutions to today’s complex technology challenges. Connect with him on LinkedIn.