Top 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Managed IT Services Provider

Choosing the right Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) is like choosing the right accountant—critical for the long-term success and security of your business. A great MSP will streamline your operations, enhance your technological capabilities, and offer critical support when you need it most. But with so many options available at our fingertips, finding a truly reliable MSP can be challenging. 

To see past the smoke and mirrors and ensure you’re being diligent in the process, here's a checklist of the top 10 questions you should ask when choosing a Managed IT Services Provider. 

1) What services do you offer?

Understanding the range of services an MSP provides is fundamental, because you’ll want to align what they can offer with what your business needs. Smaller MSPs that operate as a service desk are a dime a dozen—and if that’s all you’re looking for, the selection process may be simple. But if you want a truly strategic partner to your business that has the ability to both meet your day-to-day needs and guide you through digital transformation, you’ll need a more robust MSP offering. 

Begin by asking about their core offerings, such as network management, cybersecurity, cloud services, and support. Are there particular services you’ll need access to because of the industry you’re in? For example, if you’re a healthcare provider, you may want an IT company that can help manage your electronic health records within a certain software. Get clear on your needs first, and see if their services align. 

2) How do you approach cybersecurity?

With today’s state of cyber threats, it’s a must that your MSP prioritizes robust security measures. Inquire about their cybersecurity strategies, the tools they use, and how they stay updated with the latest security trends. But perhaps the most telling question you can ask is what their internal cybersecurity policies and procedures look like. Why? 

  • A 2022 study found that 90% of MSPs have suffered a successful cyber attack in the past 18 months.
  • While most MSPs sell multi-factor authentication (MFA) services to their customers, the same study revealed that only 40% of them have implemented it in-house. 

These shocking statistics should say it all. If you’re hiring a company to manage your systems and sensitive data, it should be non-negotiable that they practice what they preach. 

3) Can you provide custom solutions?

Your business has unique needs. Ask if the MSP offers customized solutions, or if they have a one-size-fits-all approach. While it may be tempting to opt for the menu-style solution with strict service agreements, you don’t want to be left unsupported when you have needs that fall outside your MSP’s scope. 

A smart way to avoid this is to find an MSP that provides both recurring, monthly Managed IT Services and more project-based, as-needed Professional IT Services. This way, all your bases are covered and you can rely on your provider to meet you wherever you are. 

4) What is your experience in our industry?

Industry-specific experience can be a game-changer. An MSP familiar with your industry understands the typical challenges and compliance requirements, providing more effective support. For example, if you work in heavily regulated or compliance-strict industries like healthcare, finance, government, or education, it won’t be very helpful to work with an IT provider that primarily supports retail clients. 

5) How do you handle data backup and recovery?

Data is the lifeblood of modern businesses. And in a world where 93% of large, unexpected data loss incidents lead to business closure, it’s absolutely critical that your MSP is proactive about maintaining your backups. Discuss their backup strategies and recovery plans, asking specifics such as: 

  • How frequently do you backup data?
  • Where are data backups stored?
  • What are your data encryption practices?
  • How do you validate or test the integrity of backups?
  • Can you walk me through what would happen if we were to experience a data loss incident?

These questions should reveal whether they’re diligent with their backup procedures and give you peace of mind. 

6) What are your support policies?

You’ll want your MSP’s support policies to align with your business needs. For example, if you run a 24-hour business but your MSP doesn’t offer 24/7 support (in case of an outage or system failure), they’re likely not a good fit. 

Ask about their support availability, their response times, and how support is delivered—whether on-site, remotely, or through a helpdesk. You can also inquire about their standard Service Level Agreements (SLAs) which will outline how they prioritize issues by severity and how long you can expect to wait for issue remediation. 

7) How do you manage scalability and growth?

As your business grows, your IT needs will evolve. Ask your MSP prospects about their strategies for adapting, integrating new technologies, and handling increased workloads. It's also important to understand how they might minimize downtime if you were to undergo a geographical expansion and how they would plan to support your business if it evolves on a physical scale. Seeking case studies of their experience in successfully transforming IT services for other businesses can provide valuable insights into their capabilities.

8) What are your pricing structures?

Ideally, an MSP is around for the long haul as they become strategic contributors and partners to your business. So, understanding how their pricing model works is an important conversation to have to determine fit. MSPs may charge per user, per device, or offer a flat-rate fee. Clarify what's included in their price and ask about any additional costs that you may incur. 

9) Can you provide references or case studies?

Because we can’t always take people’s claims at face value, it’s smart to obtain real-world proof that your MSP is reliable, offers quality service, and has happily paying customers across different industries. If you’re in the browsing stage, try reading through Google reviews and online testimonials. Further down the path, ask the MSP for case studies, client testimonials, and even referrals to gain insight into their capabilities. A reputable MSP should be willing to share these.

10) How do you measure and report performance?

To be truly strategic in IT, it takes an MSP that’s willing to dive into the data, analyze success, and constantly improve. Ask whether your MSP tracks KPIs and how they plan to report on them. Ideally, you’ll have regularly scheduled calls and quarterly performance reviews to check in. Here, communication is key—you don’t want to be ghosted by an IT provider, after all! 

Could we be your next Managed IT Services Provider? 

Choosing the right MSP is a decision that no business should take lightly. By asking these key questions, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of what your potential Managed IT Services Provider offers and how they align with your business needs. Remember, the ideal MSP isn’t just a service provider, but a partner that contributes to the success and growth of your business.

If you’re ready to put us to the test and consider us as your MSP, hit the button below to get in touch. 

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