July 19, 2016


There are many managed service providers out there. Some are good and some are…not so good. And unfortunately, it can be hard to tell who is who until after you’ve inked a contract. To separate the wheat from the chaff, ask prospective MSPs these seven important questions.

1. “What are your security measures?”

Secure data is critical to any business, large or small, and high-level security should be a top priority for an MSP. You want to know that your information is protected, and that if a security breach does occur, swift action will be taken to minimize the damage.

Ask what anti-virus measures and software the MSP uses, and how a security breach will be addressed (e.g. does it have a staff person ready to handle a security failure? How quickly will that person respond?). You should also gauge how much the provider knows about current and emerging threats, and their familiarity with security compliance regulations.

2. “Who are your partners? Are they reputable?” 

MSPs rely on vendors for software, hardware, and other things, so when you hire an MSP, you’re not just hiring one company. You’re essentially hiring the MSP and every provider they use. It’s in your best interest to ensure the vendors they work with are reliable and provide quality products or services because, technically, you’re working with the vendors too.

 3. “What do your SLAs look like?” 

Every MSP works off a document called a service level agreement. The SLA spells out what services you, the client, get, and details how the MSP will provide them. Everything from creating a ticket order (work request) to triaging issues to determine how long a technician has to respond is outlined. For example, an SLA will typically say that a non-time sensitive issue, e.g. client requests a new feature, will be allotted a wider window of time than a critical matter, e.g. a network shut down, which should be addressed immediately.

So when you inquire about a managed service provider’s SLAs, what you’re really asking is, “how fast will you respond when I have an issue?” The last thing you want is a project that gets stalled for several days because of an IT glitch.

4. “What processes and tools do you leverage?”

An experienced managed services provider will detect problems before they become apparent to your users or customers. The processes and tools they use to support your organization are essential. Take the time to understand how they will proactively support your organization.

5. “Can I talk to the support team?”

Talk to the support team, not just the sales people, when you’re evaluating providers. Ensure that you can comfortably communicate and work with the engineers that will be supporting your users and managing your environment. Because when something goes wrong, you won’t be calling your sales rep—you’ll be working with a technician. Also, meeting them first will help validate their capabilities and experience.

6. “Is your help desk in-house or outsourced?”

You want the desk to be in-house. This means that the MSP you hired is the one you’ll talk to when you call for help. If on-call support is outsourced, you might suffer through slower response times and get less resolution. Also, an outsourced help desk is another separate business you’ll have to deal with.

7. “Can you build a technology plan for my business?”

The best managed service providers don’t just respond to technical issues—they help businesses grow. A proactive MSP views IT as innovation, and therefore looks for ways IT products or services can make an organization more efficient, productive and profitable. The kind of IT provider you want to work with is one that’ll help you find time-saving technologies, make budget recommendations and identify ways to…yes…save you money on IT (e.g. moving to cloud-based storage to eliminate the need for so much hardware).

Looking for a managed service provider?

ECS is happy to take all of the above questions and more. As a managed service provider that’s been serving New Mexico’s small and mid-sized business successfully for 13 years, we’ve got tons of answers. Contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation.

ECS IT Solutions Partners