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Lisa Carroll

By: Lisa Carroll on January 05, 2023

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10 Best Questions To Ask Any IT Service Provider

Managed Services | IT Support

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2021, but has been updated and revised to include a more comprehensive list of questions.

Every day I answer questions from customers and potential customers about working with external IT service providers. Many leaders of small and medium-sized businesses consider outsourcing IT to realize the benefits of a full-time IT staff without incurring the expense.

IT providers can provide a wealth of knowledge and experience that many businesses would love to have on staff, but can’t afford. The right partnership can enhance the security, availability, and efficiency of your business. 

But, choosing the wrong IT provider can yield long-lasting effects. You could be locked into an expensive multi-year contract that doesn’t fit your business needs, or even suffer cyberattacks, data loss, and downtime.

I'm writing this article to provide a comprehensive list of common (and not so common) questions you can use when interviewing IT service providers to ensure that you get the right provider for you.

Based on my daily interaction with current and potential customers and more than 20 years of IT industry experience, the list I'll provide in this article will be a valuable resource when you are evaluating IT service providers. 

I’ll provide an easy-to-understand listing of the critical questions to ask to ensure you have all of the information you need to make this important decision

After you read this article, you’ll feel confident that you have done your homework and will be equipped to make the best IT support choice for you. 

Interviewing IT Providers? 10 Best Questions to Ask

If you are ready to interview potential IT partners, consider asking the questions below in your conversations:

1. What Services Do You Provide?

Does the IT provider carry out all of their services themselves, or do they also partner with other firms?

Do they have an “à la carte” business model that lets you pick and choose products, or do they have a single default offering for all clients?

If the provider has a standard offering, what is included in it? What’s not included and will it cost extra?

Finding an IT partner that offers everything you need in a single bundle can vastly simplify and streamline the process.

Related article: Break/Fix Vs. Managed IT: Cost, Reliability, Security, Productivity 

2. What Level Of Transparency, Communication,

And Customer Service Do You Offer?

What timeframe is specified for responding to and resolving a problem? 

Related article: What Is A Normal IT Response & Service Time?

Do issues get tracked in a ticket management system? Can you track ticket progress? Do tickets simply disappear into a frustrating black hole until they’re resolved?

What is the process to escalate high-priority issues to ensure that they receive the appropriate level of attention? Is there an extra charge?

Your provider should be willing to sit down and hold periodic reviews about your IT environment, and discuss any strategic investments you need to make in order to improve it.

Some providers offer “virtual CIO” (vCIO) services, providing advice that will make your IT environment more efficient and stable, and alert you to any noteworthy future developments.

3. What IT Best Practices Do You Follow?

Make sure the provider follows best practices in key IT areas.

For example, cybersecurity isn’t just about finding the right combination of technologies to prevent malicious actors from accessing your network. According to research by Kaspersky Lab, 90 percent of data breaches are caused by human error.

Look for an IT partner that invests in training and education for your employees, so that they understand their role in keeping your IT environment secure. These programs should be ongoing throughout the year to keep cybersecurity best practices at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Data loss and corruption can be disastrous for your business.

It’s critical to select an provider that will perform robust backups of your entire IT environment on a regular basis.

Having data recovery plans and backup procedures (based on best practices) in place before disaster strikes will be crucial to restoring your operations to normal relatively quickly

Cybersecurity is just one area in which your providers best practices will affect your business. 

4. Do You Have Customer References, Case Studies, 

Or Testimonials To Share?

Nearly every IT provider will have references or testimonials that testify to the quality of their work

Look especially for reviews from customers who have a similar size business, are in a similar industry, and/or share similar business requirements to yours; these companies are more likely to be aligned with your needs, meaning the IT provider is likely accustomed to working with similar businesses.

5. What Are Your Response and Resolution Times? 

Normally incorporated in your service level agreement (SLA) response and resolution times are the provider's commitments to respond and resolve issues within given timeframes. Make sure you understand what those timeframes are and how often the provider successfully meets them. 

Related article: Is An IT service level agreement (SLA) Important?

6. How Do You Handle Service Calls? 

When your users have an issue, you want to know they will be seen and heard. Some providers outsource their service team to a non-local and sometimes offshore service organization. Others monitor and respond to all calls directly.

Make sure you will have service whether it falls within your normal business hours or not and that clear and consistent communication will be available

7. Do You Provide Device And Infrastructure


The answer to this question will help you determine whether the provider offers proactive or reactive service. Both have their place, but make sure you are getting what you expect and what your organization needs

Break/fix providers typically offer reactive service, which managed IT support providers offer proactive monitoring and automatic updates among their offerings. 

Related article: Break/Fix Vs. Managed IT: Cost, Reliability, Security, Productivity 

8. What Is Your Fee Structure?

Different providers charge differently. Make sure you know what is included and when you will incur additional charges

For example, some IT providers offer unlimited calls to their service desk. Others charge for each call. Still others may charge a base fee for up to 100 calls per month and then charge extra for additional calls.

Nailing down all of this information early on will assure that you are able to compare your options accurately and that there are no hidden fees.

9. Is On-Site Service Included?

Some providers may only provide remote service in their fees and may charge a premium for any necessary on-site visits. Again, the key is to read the fine print and know the terms of your contract. 

10. Do You Offer Project Work? 

While project work is not typically included in recurring IT service fees, it is nice to know that if you need help with an IT project you can use your existing provider. It's always nice when you can get one-stop shopping and can work with one IT provider who understand the quirks of your infrastructure for all of your IT needs. 

Where Do You Go From Here?

A lot of questions and factors go into choosing the right IT provider. After reading this article, you understand the best questions to ask any IT provider.  

At this point, you may be ready to start interviewing providers or you may need to do some internal work to define what your organization needs.

When you are ready, interview several providers so that you can be sure to find the best fit for you. 

Read this article to learn 6 signs that your business needs external IT support.

If you're wondering whether your business is the right size for managed IT support, check out this article: Is My Business Too Small For Managed IT Support?

Or, find out how internal and outsourced IT services compare in this honest comparison. 

New to external IT support services and wondering what your options are? This article provides an head-to-head comparison of break/fix and managed IT support and includes information about cost, reliability, security, and productivity

Looking to change IT providers? Read this article to learn everything you need to know about switching IT service providers

About Lisa Carroll

Lisa is Kelser's VP of Revenue who works at the intersection of business and technology to help Kelser’s clients jump on growth opportunities.

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