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Brian Mulligan

By: Brian Mulligan on July 31, 2018

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8 Things to Ask About Your Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Managed Services

Many times, when looking for a managed service provider (MSP), price is the main issue that floats to top of mind. Unfortunately, you likely don’t have an unlimited pot of money to work with and this can cause you to lose track of why you’re looking for an MSP in the first place. While cost is a factor, it’s important not to overlook the fact that you’re looking for a trusted partner that can help move your organization forward by transforming your IT department from an operating drain into a critical business asset.

So, how do you make sure that you’re choosing a managed service provider you can trust and are comfortable partnering with? Start by asking yourself these eight questions about your current MSP or those you’re considering.

1. How long has the managed service provider been in business and managing networks?

This is a valid question as providers come in many shapes and sizes. However, longevity alone isn’t the only factor to be considered. Creativity, sustainability, experience, and evolution are important components of this question as well. Have you asked how the organization has evolved and continues to do so as technology changes almost daily?

2. Can they provide references?

The question I always ask when a potential client asks for a reference is “Would I provide you a bad reference?” Most providers have references but to what degree? A reference should be able to provide healthy insight into not only whether the provider is a good organization, but also about their actual experience with that MSP. This allows you to gauge what your engagement may look like because, let’s face it, isn’t that what you’re most interested in learning about?

3. Are they going to go silent on you?

How many of us have had this experience: during the buying cycle, there’s a million pounds of communication from a potential provider. Then suddenly, before the ink is even dry on your new contract, the communication (both in frequency and volume) basically ceases to exist? This is sometimes a common experience which is why it’s okay to ask what to expect for communication following the signature of an agreement. Likewise, it’s okay to ask what kind of communication you can expect regarding new technologies, vulnerabilities, and trends to watch as that’s an important part of a strong partner relationship.

4. What will the implementation process look like?

It’s completely okay to ask what to expect when you move forward with an engagement from a project management standpoint. In addition to communication mentioned above, you’ll want to know about any potential hiccups that may arise during transition and how the MSP is prepared to handle those hiccups. Knowing this can help both your organization and the MSP be aware of potential issues but also ensure there are no surprises if you do encounter one.

5. Are you able to review the agreement?

Once you have agreed on a solution with the managed service provider, ask to review a copy of the agreement early in the process. It’s important to review the agreement carefully to ensure that the proposed solution, the service level agreements (SLAs), and everything you discussed has been addressed within. Capturing these expectations is often left to chance which may lead to undesirable surprises down the road.

6. Is their billing transparent?

Clear and concise billing is extremely important for both you and your Accounts Payable team. It allows you to easily identify how much you are being charged, what it’s for, and if it all lines up with your agreement. Request a sample bill from the managed service provider to look over before your engagement to see if it has all the information you and your team will need.

7. Do they understand your business, the challenges you have, and does the proposed solution meet those needs?

You know your business and your partner should know your business as well. If they don’t, they’re simply providing a widget. In my opinion, the most effective partner listens more than speaks.

Have they done any discovery to learn about your business? What keeps you up at night? Why you reached out to them? Have they identified how their solution lines up with your needs? Perhaps most importantly, are you confident in their answers to the above?

8. Can they help you plan for the future?

The right partner will clearly understand your budget, budget process, and be able to work with you to plan for the future. They’ll help you identify your highest risk factors and get those taken care of first before providing a timeline of future initiatives with your objectives in mind, not their sales cycle.

These questions and the points they uncover frequently get lost when trying to discover which MSP is the right fit for your organization. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you need a solid, progressive partner who doesn’t just fix a single issue today, but can evolve with you and your business.

At Kelser, we pride ourselves on fostering energized relationships that generate shared prosperity for those we serve. We scale right alongside your business as you harness the advantages that technology can bring. Let’s talk about your challenges and if our comprehensive technology support can help make them disappear.

See for yourself how managed services can tackle your business challenges with our online quiz. Start your quiz here.

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About Brian Mulligan

As Vice President of Commercial Sales at Kelser, the better part of Brian's day is spent working with clients to find the best solutions to their challenges. He rolls up his sleeves and does whatever is necessary to ensure that his clients’ expectations are exceeded at every turn.

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