April 8, 2015
4 Questions You Should Ask Your Managed Services Provider
Choosing the right managed services provider (MSP) for your business needs can be one of the toughest decisions you might have to take as a business owner. We have all at some point or another signed up for a service that promised it could deliver X,Y and Z, only to find out upon delivery of the service that only X and Y were covered in the plan and that Z is going to cost us extra.
The sad fact of the matter is that in order to secure business deals, some sales people will promise the earth, yet, as you soon find out, they must have had their fingers crossed behind their back the whole time, for what they actually end up providing doesn’t come anywhere near what was initially promised.
Nevertheless, you have decided that you need managed services for the purposes of offloading some of your tough and time-consuming IT work. This is a good choice that you have made, for outsourcing IT services can save an SME a lot of frustration, worry and indeed money in the long run, as it will give you a chance to focus on your more pressing business needs, like serving customers.
But you have to choose the right one for your company. Indeed, your MSP will be an extension of your company, and will be working very intricately with some key parts of it. And so, it is essential that you don’t just plump for the first managed services provider you come across. You need to choose the one who is going to get to know you, your business and your business’s needs. And to find out which MSP that is will require you to ask some important questions to separate the wheat from the chaff.
So, below we’ve put together a list of the top 4 questions you should ask your managed services provider before agreeing to take on the partnership.
1. Is Providing Managed Services The Sole Focus Of Your Business?
There are some cowboys out there who offer managed services as a bit of a sideline to some other endeavor that they are more focused on. Ideally, you don’t want to partner with an MSP of this kind. You want to make sure that providing managed services is the full time job of your MSP, and that they are experts in all fields of the services that they offer.
Further details that you will want to check in order to try and confirm this information is to ask how long they have been in business, how many employees they have, and, importantly, that the service provision includes ongoing support.
2. Who Will Be Authorized To See My Data?
Privacy and data security is your number one concern, both for your business and your customers.
You may want to set up your managed services so that your MSP will be in charge of, but not be able to see, your sensitive business data. However, most MSPs will probably still retain the ability to see your data. And so, you will need to ensure that it is drawn up in your contract that there will be various controls in place that will prevent your MSP reproducing or sending your data in any form.
Even though your MSP will have control of your data, but the responsibility of it, and therefore the liability, will remain with you should it ever become compromised.
3. What Kind Of Support Do You Provide?
This is where you will be trying to get down into the nitty gritty details of the service. For example, will your MSP offer around the clock support? Is there a fully-staffed call-center that can be contacted should you encounter a problem? Are you able to provide a scalable solution should my business start to grow in the future?
Remember, there are never too many questions that you can ask. You want to make sure that your MSP offers every single one of the services that you require of it, so dig deep.
4. How Do I Access My Data Once I’ve Handed Control Over To You?
Even though you will be handing your data over to an MSP to look after, it is nonetheless still your data and therefore you should be able to have access to it around the clock. And this means that you will want to make sure that you have actual physical and personal access to the data center where it is stored, as well, of course, as being able to access it as and when you need it online.
Another consideration along this vein is that you will want to have it drawn up in your contract that should you ever wish to change service provider then your MSP will be able to hand all of your data back to you quickly.