Research shows that managed services are becoming the go-to solution, outstripping the older break-fix model.
Managed IT services pose several advantages, such as consistent monthly costs, scaling potential, reduced labor costs, enhanced security, and access to professional assistance.
However, before you hire a managed service provider and take advantage of these benefits—there are some important questions you need to be asking potential solution providers.
It is essential that your company’s IT infrastructure does not let you down and that it is secure, scalable, and adaptive. Not all managed service providers are created equal, which is why you need to carefully vet out a solution provider that your company can rely on.
Read on to find out the essential questions to ask a managed service provider before you sign up for their services.
Before we jump into what questions to ask a managed service provider—what is managed services?
Managed services is the practice of outsourcing IT-based functions to an independent service provider for a monthly fee. The service provider typically takes on responsibility for the functionality of the IT equipment and systems.
As mentioned above, this set-up has a bevy of benefits when compared to the traditional break-fix paradigm. In comparison, managed services are a much more efficient and reliable model, providing that you find a good managed service provider.
Below are some of the key questions you should ask for sorting out the good from the bad when it comes to solution providers.
The first area you will want to get clear on when vetting a managed service provider is what exact services are included in the contract you are considering. Does it include network monitoring? What about software patching, server upgrades, or hardware issues, and what about ISP issues?
If you do not understand the technical terms around servers and other IT infrastructure, then say so, and ask the provider to break down what they offer into simple languaging so that you can get a crystal clear picture of what you are going to get out of your package.
The next question you should ask is what services are out of the managed services provider’s scope.
It’s just as important to know what they can’t do, as what they can do for you. Particularly if the provider is offering flat-rate fees or an inclusive price. For instance, you could ask, do you just provide bare metal servers, or do you also offer upgraded and custom solutions?
If there are some capabilities that the managed service provider can’t offer, are any of these deal-breakers?
Perhaps you may not need all of their capabilities currently. However, it is important to know what the provider can and can’t do so that if you have any additional needs you know whether they will fulfill them for you.
This is also a very important question to ask if you are looking to scale. A managed IT services provider that can cater adequately to your current needs might not have the capacity to meet these if you experience growth in the future. In this instance, it may be better to find a provider that can cater to your future needs.
Besides knowing exactly what a managed IT services provider can and can’t offer you, it’s also important to know what standard cloud disaster recovery (DR) measures a potential company has in place.
Reports show that cyber-attacks cost businesses an average of $200,000. This is enough to put many companies out of business. What’s more, losses aren’t limited to the big guys, as 43% of cyber-criminal target small and medium-sized businesses.
Long story short, you need to figure out if the managed service provider you are considering will be able to effectively protect your company from security breaches.
A good managed IT services provider should ultimately have a holistic security plan that takes into account people management and adaptability aspects as well as the technology itself.
Additionally, you should also enquire what DR measures a provider has in place for when a disaster happens to their facilities, such as fire or an earthquake. Will your service still be up and running, or will it too go down?
Operations likely will grind to a halt should there be any issues with your server. Therefore, it is important to check what after-hours support is available from a potential managed service provider.
Ideally, you want support that goes above and beyond so that you can be assured that there will always be someone on call. To ensure that you get uninterrupted help, look for companies that offer 24/7 support.
Another important question to ask when looking for managed IT services is how often a provider upgrades their infrastructure.
If they are operating on legacy infrastructure, this is a warning flag. If they aren’t using efficient and current technology, what’s to say they are going to keep your system up to date?
Additionally, you should also ask whether upgrades or maintenance on their side will result in downtime for your business. If so will they notify you? How far in advance will you know?
While this has nothing to do with technology, you also should ask managed service providers what their company culture is like.
Company cultures that are service-focused and positive tend to result in better customer service. If you want friendly and efficient help at all times, then go with a provider that has built a strong, customer-first company culture.
Managed services allow businesses to save large amounts of time and resources while gaining systems that are current, effective, and scalable. However, you need to select a top-notch managed service provider.
If you are looking for the best in managed services, we are here to help. We have spent the last 20 years creating strategic infrastructure solutions that maximize business productivity and enhance security.
Find out more about us or contact us to discuss your managed services needs.