We all have worked with companies and/or people that promise the world and struggle to deliver. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence these days. Below are 10 questions you should ask a potential Managed IT Service Provider (MSP) that will help you find the best fit for your organization. This list will help you make the best business decision no matter which MSP you choose.
1. How long have you been in business?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 50% of small businesses fail within the first 5 years and 70% of small businesses fail in their 10th year in business.. Therefore, you want to look for a partner that has been in business for a minimum of 5 years and partnering with a provider that’s been in business for over 10 years may be best.
2. How many employees do you have?
You should look for a stable company to partner with and not someone who is just trying to make ends meet. A good way to measure this is by how many employees they have.
3. How many engineers do you have on staff?
This is a helpful question to ask any Managed Service Provider. You should look for a partner with many engineers that are specialized in certain technologies. Most I.T. support companies have “jack of all trades” that are good at some things, but not a master of a selected technology. This leads to complex projects, project overruns, and overall poor service.
4. How many clients do you have on your Managed I.T. Services solution?
You should look for a company that knows what they are doing and this is a good measurement. Within reason, an organization should be a chosen provider for many organizations across differing industries.
5. Do you staff your Help Desk support or do you outsource it?
The best Managed Services Providers staff their own help desk support ONSITE, at their office, so they can train them, keep their certifications updated, and make sure they have quality people working for them. These are the individuals you will interact with the most. Do you want to speak to someone who may be overseas?
6. How many people do you have on your Help Desk?
You should look for a partner that has enough people on their help desk to support your employees. The help desk support staff should be an actual dedicated help desk and not field technicians that get called when they are not busy. Also, consider your business needs. If your business is 24×7, partner with a provider that also has 24×7 support, meaning their help desk is staffed at 1:00 AM and you are not making an emergency call with the expectation of waking someone up.
7. How long have you been providing Managed I.T. Services for your clients?
This is one of the essential questions to ask a Managed Service Provider. Managed Services is not an easy service to provide and takes a lot of time, processes, people, and investments. It takes 6-10 years to get good at something, depending on how often and how much you do it. Some estimate that it takes 10,000 hours to master something.
8. Are onsite calls part of your Managed IT Services Solution?
You should look for a Managed Services Provider that provides onsite support as part of their monthly price. We find most MSPs leave this out of the discussion, and when they come onsite, they bill you for it. Surprise!
9. How do you measure customer satisfaction of your managed services clients?
Service providers should be calling clients and performing surveys; the clients should be random, and not just their happy clients. They should rate their customer service on the following: reliability, performance, security, problem resolution, friendliness, professionalism, and timeliness. Ask about their Net Promoters Score (NPS) or the other client satisfaction measures they have in place.
10. Are you on the Channel Futures MSP 501 list?
Channel Futures publishes the top 501 Managed Services Providers every year (previously know as the MSPmentor 501) and this is a good way to measure a partner. The MSPs on the list are the “most elite, innovative, and strategic,” according to Kris Blackmon, Content Director of Channel Partners. Another notable list is the CRN MSP 500 list. The MSP 500 list identifies North American solution providers that deliver operational efficiencies, I.T. system improvements, and a high rate of return on investments for customers. MSPs on these lists know what they are doing and have proven methods from years of experience. Becoming a top MSP in the world is a difficult task.
Again, no matter what Managed I.T. Services Provider you choose, the above questions should help you select a provider that make sense for your business goals, your employees, and your customers. As an additional tip, I would suggest asking the MSP you’re considering for client references.
Interested in learning more about I.T. Industry trends? Learn how companies like yours are using technology to help their business, and get recommendations from an expert with 20 years of experience by watching our on-demand webinar.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July of 2013 and has since been updated for accuracy and relevance.