8 Must-Ask Questions For Prospective Managed Services Providers

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As more organizations partner with Managed Services Providers (MSPs), more providers have entered the marketplace. Sorting through the options can be a challenge, so it is important to ask the right questions. We've outlined the following key questions to explore when you are considering extending your team with an MSP:


1


Is the MSP a certified business partner or authorized reseller for leading software and hardware companies? 

The most highly qualified MSPs build relationships with leading hardware and software companies such as Citrix, Cisco, VMware, Microsoft, and many others. You benefit from these relationships by gaining access to the latest expertise, best practices, upgrades and new solutions from top companies.


2


Do your staff members have specialized expertise and sought-after certifications? 

Rather than investing in hiring a new employee, many IT teams have found it more cost-effective to gain rarely needed, yet critical, skills through their MSP. Your MSP should be able demonstrate that it has critical expertise and team members certified in key security and infrastructure technologies such as Citrix, Cisco, Microsoft, Palo Alto, and more.


3


Do you use ITIL best practices? 

Your MSP should provide access to the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) of best practices for responding to specific issues. ITIL is the industry standard for ensuring consistent and effective practices to align IT with business goals 


4


Do you have an enterprise-class Network Operations Center (NOC)?

Many MSPs claim to have an enterprise-class NOC, but few actually do. An enterprise-class NOC will be based on best-in-class IT management tools such as ServiceNow and ScienceLogic. An enterprise-class NOC enables fast response to any event that may affect quality, capacity, or availability in your IT environment. Further, an MSP's NOC is a 24x7 organization that can respond in real time, with real people familiar with your environment to any event occurring within your infrastructure. This ensures maximum availability of your infrastructure and services to your staff.


5


Can you help my team become more data-driven?

IT systems generate significant data, but data is useful only when it can be aggregated and transformed into actionable insights. If your MSP uses best-in-class monitoring and infrastructure management tools, you will be able to tap into trending data to help you prepare for future system upgrades with minimal disruption and maximum value.


6


Are your services only one-size-fits-all, or tailored for my needs?

Your MSP should be able to provide tiered services. For example, a basic service might include monitoring, case tracking, and remote troubleshooting, while a more comprehensive service could offer high-level traffic pattern review, patch management, and trend reports.


7


What can I expect in terms of uptime improvement? And at what cost?

A qualified MSP will provide 24X7 support and guarantee 99.995% uptime annually. Once the MSP has your environment fully managed and tuned, you should be able to count on a significant increase in uptime, and a 15% (on average) decrease in costs.


8


What kind of reporting will you provide?

Your MSP should be able to provide daily and monthly reports, including documentation of all major incidents of the past 24 hours. Robust reporting allows you to prioritize infrastructure improvements and address root causes. Also, your MSP should be able to provide an easy-to-use, secure, Web-based portal that shows all system activity.

Today's business leaders require guidance from their technologists to leverage new advancements in cloud, security, collaboration and other technologies. Once you overcome the myths, the reality is that an MSP can help you seamlessly manage your daily operations, while freeing your in-house team to provide vision and help advance the business.

For more insight, download our free eBook: A Practical Guide for Selecting the Right Managed Services Path for Your Organization.


 

March 16, 2017