5 Questions to Ask Before Selecting an MSP Partner

Technology is complex. Getting it to work well in your small to mid-sized business is even more complicated. And if you are investing money into IT that should make your business run more smoothly, shouldn’t you make sure you have the right management and support tools in place as well?

With the effective use of technology growing ever more challenging, outsourcing IT to a managed services provider (MSP) can provide the stability and reliability you need in your business.

Business IT includes everything from cybersecurity to asset management, disaster recovery to video surveillance. No single IT expert can support that. But the risk of unmaintained and unsecured technology can be costly at best, and close down your organization at its worse.

  • 28% of data breaches directly affected small businesses, according to 2021 Verizon research.
  • 2022 data from Arctic Wolf revealed 92% of organizations have an active cloud security gap within their infrastructure.
  • Research from the Ponemon Institute states that 60% of breaches could have been prevented with a proper patch.
  • Statistics show the cost of downtime to small businesses falls into a range of $137 to $427 per minute; for larger businesses, the cost can eclipse $16,000 per minute.

Partnering with an MSP helps businesses breathe a sigh of relief about the technology within their organization. MSPs bring a wealth of experience, make IT support and services easily budgeted with monthly payments, and take a proactive stance with security and maintenance that can help protect your SMB from cyber attacks that seek out easily avoidable gaps such as unpatched vulnerabilities.

Selecting an MSP is a personal decision, but we have five questions we urge you to ask any MSP you are considering as a partner.

Qualifying Questions to Ask an MSP

  1. Can they manage a multi-vendor environment?

Today’s technology landscape evolves constantly and quickly. Even small organizations have a complex mix of software, hardware, networking equipment, and cloud computing to manage and troubleshoot. That means, before selecting an MSP partner, you need to determine if the MSP has a proven track record of working within a multi-vendor hybrid environment. You should also ask about how they manage vendor relationships, particularly when it comes to advanced insight into product evolution and emerging technologies.

  1. How do they approach cybersecurity?

MSPs are built to support and offer an array of technology solutions, but with today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape, cybersecurity must be a clear focus. Malicious actors, socially engineered threats, and ever-expanding attack surfaces make cybersecurity increasingly complex. An MSP that is ill-equipped to handle cybersecurity can do more harm than good for your organization.

On the other hand, some MSPs offer managed security services that deliver enterprise-level cyber protection with a small business focus. A good MSP should not only fully audit your environment to understand your security baseline and gaps, but also help you close cracks in your protection while providing proactive incident response and sensitive data protection that improves your overall security posture.

  1. Do Their Services Align With Your Industry Needs?

For the most part, MSPs are industry agnostic and can serve businesses of most types. However, some specialize in certain industries, which can be important if your organization is in one of those verticals. That specialization can be crucial if your business operates under strict compliance or data privacy/retention regulations.

If that is true of your organization, be sure to understand if the MSP you are considering provides regulatory compliance services or has a relationship with a partner who can address those specific issues. Examples of key compliance standards that may require specializations include NIST, HIPAA, CMMC, DFARS, and the SHIELD Act.

  1. What do customers of an MSP have to say?

One advantage of our highly digital society is readily available reviews for nearly any services company.  So, as you evaluate an MSP partner, consider looking for or requesting customer reviews that are a solid indicator of an MSP’s proven track record of success.

Consider researching and/or requesting information on the following before making your final decision:

  • Their customer retention rate
  • References, referrals, and reviews (Hint: Check reviews on their Google Business Profile)
  • Samples of their Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • Their employee retention rate
  • Onboarding and off-boarding policies
  1. How flexible is the managed services agreement?

As businesses grow, technology needs will change. Perhaps it’s just a matter of more software and hardware, but in some cases, the way an organization uses tech can evolve drastically as it matures and expands. Understanding if an MSP partner can scale support and services alongside your successful expansion is a crucial element in selecting the right MSP.

You should also fully understand what tiers of IT support packages an MSP offers.

Some MSPs offer one level of support regardless of the size or needs of their clients. Others allow you to create a customized package that features only the services you need. However, the most popular and flexible approach is the tiered package offering.

Most managed services packages cover all the IT elements of an organization’s environment, with the difference between options focused on levels of support, response time, and what is included or excluded. For example, one level may include monitoring and alerts, but resolving issues is billed hourly. Another may include all-you-can-eat remote support but charge hourly rates if an engineer must visit your brick-and-mortar location.

Also be sure to understand how your MSP partner prices its services—most charge by user per month, which makes managed services easily budgeted.

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Key takeaways about selecting your MSP partner

The questions in this blog are only a few of the questions to ask an MSP you’re considering as a partner. You likely will have additional questions based on the specific needs of your business or industry.

SimpleFly Tech has been supporting small businesses for nearly a decade,  and we offer three levels of managed services to turn technology into a business differentiator instead of a distraction.

For more about how we can turn simple technology into a powerful tool in your business, contact us today to schedule a consultation.