15 Questions You Should Ask Before Selecting a Managed Service Provider to Work With

With so many managed service providers in the market, how can you narrow down which one is best for your organisation? This blog provides 15 questions you should ask before selecting a managed service provider to work with.

Given the complexity of maintaining a secure, performant IT estate in 2023, many organisations are electing to partner with a managed service provider (MSP) to relieve much of the burden. By outsourcing your IT needs to the right MSP, you can focus on your organisational objectives while having confidence that your estate is always optimised and secured.

Choosing the right MSP for your organisation can be no easy thing, though. It’s a huge market, and there are lots of promises being thrown around that can make it tough to figure out what’s best for you. In this blog, we will outline the top 15 questions your organisation should ask before working with an MSP to ensure a successful and productive partnership.

1. What is your experience and expertise?

Understanding the MSP’s experience and expertise is essential. Ask about their industry experience, the length of time they have been in business, and the types of organisations they have served. Assess if their knowledge aligns with your organisation’s specific needs and industry requirements.

2. What services do you offer?

Gain a clear understanding of the services provided by the MSP. Determine whether they offer comprehensive IT services including cyber security, hybrid cloud, and connectivity – and seek to understand how well these services integrate with each other. Ideally, the MSP should offer a comprehensive range of services to meet your current and future IT needs.

3. Can you provide client references?

Ask for client references to gauge the MSP’s reputation and performance. Contact their existing clients to gather insights into their levels of satisfaction and the overall quality of the services they receive. Client testimonials and case studies can also offer valuable perspectives.

4. What is your approach to cyber security?

Cyber security is a critical concern for every organisation. Ask about the MSP’s cyber security measures – do they build solutions in a secure manner from the ground up, or is cyber security seen as more of a ‘bolt on’? Ensure they have a proactive approach to detecting and mitigating potential threats to your IT infrastructure and data.

5. How do you handle data backup and disaster recovery?

Data loss and downtime can significantly impact your operations. Ask the MSP about their data backup and disaster recovery strategies. Ask about the frequency of backups, where the data is stored, and how quickly they can restore systems in the event of a disaster. Verify if they perform regular tests to ensure the effectiveness of their backup and recovery plans.

6. Do you provide 24×7 support?

Technical issues can arise at any time, so ask about the MSP’s availability and support hours. Ideally, they should offer round-the-clock support, including weekends and holidays. Determine if they have a dedicated Service Desk team or a ticketing system to address and resolve any IT-related problems efficiently.

7. What are your service level agreements (SLAs)?

Service level agreements define the terms and conditions of the partnership and set expectations for response times and issue resolution. Understand the MSP’s SLAs, including their guaranteed response time for different types of issues and their escalation process for critical problems. Clarify any uncertainties regarding service expectations.

8. How do you ensure scalability?

As your organisation grows, so will your IT requirements. Ensure that the MSP can scale their services to accommodate your expanding needs. Ask about their process for assessing scalability, their experience in handling growing organisations, and their ability to accommodate sudden surges in demand.

9. How do you stay updated with technology trends?

Technology is always evolving, and it is vital for your MSP to stay up to date with the latest advancements. Ask about their commitment to ongoing training and certifications for their staff. Ask if they have partnerships or affiliations with leading technology vendors, which can indicate their dedication to staying at the forefront of industry developments.

10. How do you ensure data privacy and compliance?

Data privacy and compliance regulations are critical for organisations operating today. Ensure that the MSP has robust security measures in place to protect your sensitive data and that they adhere to relevant compliance standards such as GDPR and PCI DSS. Ask about their policies regarding data privacy, access controls, and data breach notification procedures. Additionally, ask if they conduct regular cyber security audits and assessments to ensure compliance and mitigate potential risks.

11. What is your communication and reporting process?

Clear and effective communication is crucial for a successful partnership. Ask about the MSP’s communication channels and how they provide updates on service status, project progress, and any potential issues. Understand how frequently they provide reports and what information is included in those reports, such as system performance metrics and security incidents.

12. How do you handle vendor management?

Many IT environments rely on various software and hardware vendors. Ask the MSP about their vendor management processes. Determine how they handle interactions with vendors, including issue escalation, maintenance, and upgrades. A strong vendor management strategy ensures seamless integration and efficient problem resolution.

13. What is your disaster recovery plan?

Disruptions like natural disasters, power outages, or cyber-attacks can cause significant damage. Ask about the MSP’s disaster recovery plan. Understand their strategies for backup systems, offsite data storage, and redundant infrastructure to ensure minimal downtime and quick recovery in the face of unexpected events.

14. What is your pricing structure?

Discuss the MSP’s pricing structure and ensure it aligns with your budget and organisational objectives. Ask about any hidden costs, additional fees, or penalties. Understand whether they offer different service tiers or customisable packages to meet your specific needs. It is also important to clarify the terms of the contract, including contract duration and termination clauses.

15. How do you handle employee onboarding and offboarding?

When new employees join or existing employees leave your organisation, their IT access and permissions need to be managed effectively. Ask about the MSP’s processes for employee onboarding and offboarding, including user account setup, access controls, and security protocols to safeguard against unauthorised access.

Select the Right MSP for Your Organisation

Partnering with the right MSP is a crucial decision for organisations looking to optimise and secure their IT estates. By asking the questions outlined in this blog, your organisation can gain valuable insights into an MSP’s capabilities, expertise, and commitment to delivering high-quality services.

Carefully evaluating these factors will help ensure a productive and long-lasting partnership that supports your organisation’s IT needs and goals.

Introducing Six Degrees

Six Degrees is a leading secure, integrated cloud services provider. We protect UK organisations and help them thrive in the cloud by giving them secure platforms to innovate and grow.

We put our exceptional people in a position to succeed, and along with our robust capabilities and strategic vendor partnerships this enables us to support customers on their digital transformation journeys regardless of their maturity, with the goal of enabling them to operate effectively and securely in the cloud.

Keen to learn how we can help your organisation navigate the complexities it faces today? Get in touch to speak to one of our experts.

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