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The increasing complexity of information technology has made it harder for organizations to have the full range of IT expertise in-house. Many small and midsize organizations are turning to managed service providers (MSPs) to ensure that they keep up with the technology curve and that their business-critical applications and communications run smoothly. Organizations are discovering that they can augment their existing teams or completely outsource IT support easier and more cost-effectively than ever before.

But what is the best way to choose a partner? And how can you know if your IT partner is providing all your technology needs?

Here are six questions to ask your Managed Services Provider.

  1. What is the full range of services you offer? Managed Services help organizations control IT costs, manage tactical operations more efficiently, reduce unscheduled downtime and allocate in-house IT resources to higher value initiatives. When working with your IT provider, it’s important to fully understand what technologies they manage, what’s included within your agreement, how frequently you can access technical and account support and outline the clear deliverables you are entitled to as a partner. Ask your IT provider to provide a breakdown of services by device so you can ensure what’s covered and what’s now. Have your MSP show you what level of operational maturity (OML) your business has achieved while working with them. If they can’t articulate a clear product and the tools they use to provide it, your service may be suffering.
  2. How do you use automation and self-healing to prevent downtime and reduce vulnerabilities?  The most sophisticated MSPs codify mature business and IT practices to automate self-healing tasks. Examples of automation include automated patching of operating systems and applications, running backups, running infrastructure and security audits, and straightforward help desk assistance. Automation is important to you because the more these tasks are automated, the better your IT performance will be. The best MSPs automate endpoint review and scan networks daily to remediate issues such as missing antivirus protection and backup failures. By leveraging automation, an MSP can perform tasks faster and more effectively without increasing costs. Automation also eliminates human error and provides assurance that an activity has occurred as planned.
  3. Are you vendor neutral? When evaluating a technology solution, it’s critical to look for a partner that recommends and implements technology solutions that are the best fit for your organization not theirs. Ensure that they are providing the right solution because it’s what’s best for your business and not dictated by their relationship specific technology vendors. Many Managed IT service firms have big quotas and kickbacks with certain vendors, and while partnerships are critical to success, make sure your partner is looking out for your best interests when they are making recommendations.
  4. Do you have a security practice? Professional and modern IT providers have a core IT security team to support basic IT management and delivery. Security is at the heart of any IT and business infrastructure, so security and compliance services are a necessity for your organization. Are their experts certified security professionals? Is their organization SOC 2-certified? What type of remediation services do they provide as part of their offering? Ask your IT partner these questions to ensure that they have an established practice and product and aren’t just using security buzzwords.
  5. Do you have expertise beyond infrastructure? One of the many advantages of working with a technology partner is utilizing a team of experienced professionals to support all aspects of your IT needs. Ask your partner what are the levels of expertise and years of experience their team members have supporting IT systems/infrastructures like yours? Do they have the vertical expertise supporting a business like yours? Look for a partner that provides strategic technology leadership who stays up-to-date on trends and innovative solutions, so they can better advise you on how to leverage technology to achieve your business objectives.
  6. What is your cloud readiness strategy? Organizations of all sizes and across all industries are taking advantage of the cloud. MSPs can help you migrate all or part of your infrastructure and applications to the cloud so it’s important that you look for an IT partner that has experience across cloud platforms, including Azure and Amazon AWS.  Ensure that your IT provider can strategically leverage cloud computing across all areas of business and provide a clear vision on how to incorporate the cloud in your strategic IT plan.

As the complexities of the technology you use to run your business increases, so do the myriad options, price points and opinions. With the right strategic plan, communication and a true partnership with a true IT ally, you can fully optimize technology solutions inside your organizations. If you are considering partnering with an MSP for the first time, or if you are unhappy with your current MSP, click here to download the definitive MSP Buyer’s Guide. Learn everything you need to know to find the perfect MSP partner and get the most out of your IT investment.