Your Guide to Choosing a Managed Service Provider

If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a full team to manage your company’s IT. Like most other roles, IT team members aren’t jacks of all trades. Instead, they all have their own specialties: One person might consider themselves a cybersecurity guru, while another is a master at networking.

Unfortunately, hiring internal team members to fulfill all your IT needs can get expensive. You’ll have to pay full salary for each employee — and if you hadn’t noticed, average pay in the technology sector isn’t exactly peanuts. Salaries depend on experience and location, of course, but according to Indeed, the going rate for a basic IT Support person averages around $52,000 a year.

Multiply that by the number of employees you need, and you can easily wind up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for something that diverts focus from your core competencies.

That’s exactly why so many businesses have begun turning to managed services providers (MSPs) for help.

Managed services provider (n): an organization that manages technology products and services for other businesses; the potential source of a great deal of frustration or peace of mind, depending on the vendor you choose.

MSPs have economy of scale on their side, allowing them to charge less for basic IT services while offering a wide range of expertise. Of course, that’s assuming that you’ve hired a good one. A bad MSP can result in poor communication, network downtime, lack of follow-through and general mistrust all around. And with your technology on the line, a brush with a bad vendor can really cost you.

Luckily, by asking the right questions, you can cut through the sales pitch and get a window into your future with any MSP. Here’s what you should ask a prospective provider before you sign a contract.

What is your up-time guarantee?

Every minute of downtime costs businesses an average of $5,600. Because of this, most MSPs include some sort of up-time guarantee in their service agreement. The standard is 99.9 percent, but really good MSPs will offer 99.999 percent or more, known in the industry as five nines or better. Some even offer 100 percent — which may be required by regulation for certain industries, like healthcare.

How does IT support work at your company?

In the midst of an IT emergency, you don’t want to be wondering if your vendor’s help desk will really have your back. Find out how IT support is managed: Are support team members outsourced? Is support online 24/7? How do you get in touch when you need something? Answering these questions will give you a true sense of the MSP’s disaster response abilities.

How will you help me prepare for my future needs?

Business needs change quickly, and technology changes even quicker. You need an MSP that has the flexibility to take on additional projects and services as needed, as well as the ability to guide you as you consider new technologies.

What kind of security services do you offer?

Breach Level Index estimates that over 13 billion data records have been stolen since 2013. And attacks are getting even more sophisticated with social engineering, fileless malware, ransomware, cryptomining and any number of other emerging types of cybercrime. The bottom line is that you need an MSP that can offer you top-tier security services, such as monitoring, firewalls, email filtering, antimalware software and more. Your MSP should also be able to explain the security practices of their data centers and tell you how data is stored by any external vendors the MSP uses.

How will you help me reduce IT costs?

If you’re hiring an MSP to cut IT spending, you’ll need to make sure they actually follow through on that promise. Can they automate parts of your workflow to save you labor hours? What kind of routine maintenance is included in your contract? Are there any additional fees not outlined in your SLA? Keep in mind, though, that a cheap MSP may cost you money in downtime and miscommunication in the long run.

Why should we hire you?

If it’s good enough for an employee interview, it’s good enough for vetting a vendor. A prospective MSP should be able to explain what sets them apart from their competition. Whether it’s their industry expertise or their long-time experience, your MSP should have one or more qualities that make them stand out. For instance, at Taylored, our long record of providing great service — we’ve been operating for over 30 years — distinguishes us from most providers, as do our vendor partnerships and technician experience.

Want to learn more about what makes Taylored so special? Contact us today to hear about our managed services, and start getting the kind of IT support you deserve.