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12 question every company should ask of a managed IT partner

By September 18, 2023September 21st, 2023No Comments

Are you truly getting the most out of your current IT partnership?

This article will outline 12 points that you should look for to evaluate the relationship you have with your current IT partner. This should help you feel confident in knowing what is required in a successful partnership and what red flags to be aware of!

1) Do you have certain response timeframes and documented guidelines?

The most common problem is that IT service response time is too slow. This can be due to a number of reasons, including staffing levels, how each ticket is managed, and the fact that most IT management companies do not have the structure necessary to handle these issues – and then it is chaotic when the service desk receives 2-3 times the number of calls with no solutions on hand. Handling this issue is what separates the best IT service providers from the rest.

2) Will we have a dedicated support desk technician?

When speaking with and vetting any managed service providers, the most common response is yes. However, you may find yourself waiting for that professional to become available, and your problem may be critical. In most circumstances, the best answer could be no because you’d want service requests to be handled by the first available specialist, and if they aren’t resolved within 30 minutes, they should be escalated to the next service level as soon as possible.

3) Who answers the phone when we call for help, a technician or a dispatcher?

Most IT support providers will route your call through a dispatcher first. This does increase the time it takes to reach a technician, frequently requiring you to repeat the situation to a second person. For this reason, it may be beneficial to select an IT company that routes all calls directly to a technician.

4) Do you provide onsite or after-hours emergency assistance?

This is critical, and it is wise to select a service who provides both remote and onsite help. While most difficulties should be resolved remotely, speaking in person has a lot of advantages. Often, technicians will discover problems or ask questions that they would not have asked if they hadn’t called in.

5) Do you provide proactive management as opposed to reactive break/fix service?

As technology becomes more vital to your business, IT support cannot be assigned on a break/fix model. Instead, when selecting a managed service provider, search for one who can detect problems before they occur. You also want an IT partner who will devote time to developing a clear technological roadmap that aligns with your business strategy.

6) What is your plan for having nearly no downtime?

“We give a premium backup service,” or “we identify weak regions, then design a roadmap with various network enhancements,” is the common response. Unfortunately, neither of these options will qualify. You want a provider who will do a routine exercise to identify EVERY downtime risk point in order to clearly spell out a plan and provide expenses to address any weaknesses. This includes cloud vs. on-premise, redundancy, backups, connection, phone, cybersecurity, and network infrastructure.

7) Do you offer a bundled, all-inclusive cyber-security solution, or a variety of security components at an additional cost?

The majority of IT companies you will speak with will not have a package to offer you. They will have a variety of security deployments to recommend and will charge extra for each one. If they do have a bundle, however, it could be a third-party product. You are seeking a managed service provider who includes a fully tiered security package in their monthly fee. It is no longer affordable to be passive in terms of cyber-security or network infrastructure. You will need a service that will cover all of your flaws.

8) Do you offer a truly all-inclusive support plan? What are your fees for additional work or projects, and what do you foresee in the near future not covered by our monthly fee?

All businesses are price-conscious. But one of the tricks some IT providers will use will be to offer a small monthly fee and then upselling you on the project after project, which will often be larger than your yearly fees. So you need to know exactly what their services include and don’t offer – and to ask what projects they foresee in the future. This will quickly vet out the providers you’d want to stay clear of.

9) Do you have long-term contracts, and how does that benefit me?

IT providers that require long-term contracts will tell you that “we eat the upfront discovery and onboarding costs and therefore need a commitment from you to earn them back.”
Although that answer may seem reasonable on the surface, it’s often just a lowball sales tactic and doesn’t incentivize the IT service provider to perform up to standards. They also may say, “This is a partnership, and we both need skin in the game.”

This may also seem reasonable, but it’s not always the case. This could also be just another cover for locking you into a long-term contract. Most of the top IT service providers will not require long-term contracts; as they know, their service and experience are what keeps the relationship going.

10) Do you offer Co-Managed solutions?

Many IT service providers do not have a Co-Managed program in the traditional sense. Most will say, “But we do work with organizations that have an IT team.” In that case, you’re seeking suppliers who have a written Co-Managed program that is highly configurable and includes metrics for measuring the ROI of the professional relationship.

11) What if I want to discontinue services ? What is the offboarding procedure?

Many providers would advise you to wait until the end of your contract. Then they would begin the process of removing their tools and providing settings and passwords to the new MSP.
When you want to leave, the most reputable managed service providers would simply want a 30 days’ notice. They will also provide you with explicit offboarding procedures for you and your new service provider, as well as settings and passwords and a date to remove their tools.

12) What type of return on investment can we anticipate from our technology and support investments?

This question will distinguish advanced IT providers from the rest. With technology playing a bigger role in every aspect of your business and a digital transformation occurring in almost every industry, it is critical to have an IT partner who can assist you in establishing metrics to measure the ROI of all of your IT choices.


Author PCtronics

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