Top 5 questions to ask when choosing a Managed IT Service Provider

  1. Does the service provider have experience in my industry?

Choosing a service provider that already is familiar with your requirements will save you time and money. They will already be versed in how to build and maintain an IT platform for your applications. You will not have to spend time educating them on your needs.  In fact, they will most likely be familiar with the application software vendors you are currently using and any special requirements they may have.

  1. Does the service provider have depth and strength on staff?

One-man shops might be a good fit for very small clients, but generally you want to make sure that the vendor you choose has multiple engineers that can service your account. The common practice is to assign a primary engineer to an account, but what happens when this person is unavailable due to an illness or vacation. Make sure the vendor you choose has multiple resources to service your account. Also, make sure that the vendor has an experienced staff. How long have been with the company? How long have they been working in their current position? I used the word experienced, not certified. Don’t be fooled by certifications because they do not guarantee competency. Any greenhorn can come out of Jr. or Sr. college with multiple certifications but are not competent until they have years of work in the field dealing with real world issues.

  1. Does the service provider have a local presence?

While many issues can be easily resolved remotely, there will always be a time when on-site assistance is required. It helps to have someone in close proximity especially if the problem is causing system downtime. Response time is very important.

  1. Does the service provider have flexibility in their service offerings?

Many managed service providers believe that one size fits all. While I agree, that certain standards should be met like managed firewalls and cloud backup, the unique needs of each client should be considered. Make sure that you chose a provider who is willing to spend time understanding your requirements and is willing to quote you an offering to meet your particular needs rather than trying to fit you into their standard offerings.

  1. What are the lines of communication I have with my Service Provider?

The old saying “Two heads are better than one” apply. While you will most likely be given the cell phone number of your assigned engineer, what happens when they are out of pocket. Make sure your service provider will provide you will a list of contacts. At a minimum, the provider should have two contacts that manage your account, the assigned engineer and an account manager or project manager. That way you are assured of getting in contact when the problem is urgent. In addition, you have at least two resources staying on top of your needs.