Five Criteria You Can Use To Evaluate Your Managed Services Provider

By: Joshua Beitler

Your managed services subscription should include high-end preventative services, basic IT support and cyber threat responses, but the #1 thing you should get out of this partnership is peace of mind.

If you’re questioning what you’re getting from your current managed services provider (MSP), or you’re not sure what to look for in a prospective MSP, here are five questions to help you evaluate whether they’re up to snuff.

1. How Knowledgeable Are They?

Experience matters. When meeting with a potential MSP or reviewing your existing MSP, it’s important to know how long they’ve been providing IT services. You don’t want a fly-by-night company managing your IT needs. You want to know what technology organizations they belong to, like CompTIA. You’ll want to know if the partner you’re looking into is Microsoft certified or has Microsoft certified technicians.

You put a lot of trust in your managed services provider. It’s important that they know what they are doing.

2. What’s Their Price?

The idea behind a managed service contract is that you get an array of services from experts at a cost you can afford. There is a misperception out there that a managed service contract is very expensive. Depending on who you go with and what you’re getting for your money, this may or may not be true.

If you’re comparing MSPs and one stands out with a super low price, you’ll want to ask yourself, “What am I getting for the money?“ If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Look at the fine print to know exactly what’s covered in your Service Level Agreement (SLA) and what’s not. Then, compare coverage with other providers to see who might deliver the most value. Don’t forget to factor in each provider’s reputation, knowledge base and software certifications.

3. Are Their Solutions Tailored To You?

There are basic IT services that every organization needs, such as mail migrations or firewall installation. Most MSPs cover these basics. If your MSP needs to subcontract that basic work to another IT vendor, however, this could be a red flag.

Managed services are meant to be a one-stop shop for IT services. Each organization is different, so your SLA should be built to cover the basics, plus your specific needs.

If, for example, you have offices in DC and Hong Kong, you should look into 24/7 IT support because of the time difference. Or perhaps you already have an IT person on staff and don’t want to pay for services you don’t need. There are a lot of conditions that affect the content of an SLA. Your managed services provider should be thinking of your specific needs when drafting it up.

4. Do They Keep In Touch Or Leave You In The Dark?

When a problem strikes or a question comes up, you need quick support. Your provider should have a guaranteed response time listed on your SLA. If you’re waiting too long for support, review that document to ensure your provider is meeting their SLA requirement.

For instance, our team guarantees a 90-minute response time between 8:30am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. From the time a help ticket is submitted, we guarantee a response from a technician within 90 minutes, although it’s usually about 15 minutes.

A good MSP will also keep you informed of the latest technology news and cyber threats. If there’s a known ransomware or spear phishing bandit on the loose, like the DocuSign Desperado, they should alert you and your team so you know what to look out for.

5. How Well Do They Protect You From A Potential Cyber Attack?

An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure, and technology is no different. Your managed services provider should be patching your servers and network equipment with the latest security updates. They should also be monitoring and proactively working to correct small issues before they become big problems. Plus, they can test equipment to make sure it’s up-to-speed in case of disaster.

Request that your MSP provide a monthly summary of what was done. This keeps them accountable and allows you to see that everything that can be done, is being done for your organization.

Bottom line: if you’re paying for the maintenance, you shouldn’t be experiencing downtime.

Need Help?

Whether it’s selecting a new managed services provider or evaluating your current MSP, it’s always good to get a second opinion. Contact me here or call me at 410.685.5512 to learn how to get the most out of your MSP.

Published May 23, 2018

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