7 Critical Questions to Ask When Hiring a Managed IT Services Partner

If you’re tired of being stuck when your computer crashes because your IT company is less than reliable, it’s time to consider proactive managed IT services. But, hiring a managed service provider (MSP) is a little different than working with other types of new vendors in your business. It’s actually more similar to determining whether a prospective new employee will be a good fit for your business’s culture and priorities.

Since your computer systems and network are the lifeblood of your operations, you should spend more time vetting potential IT partners than, say, a new office supplies vendor. They store invaluable data about your customers, processes, and more. These resources are also vulnerable to external threats and could potentially damage your business if disaster strikes.

Now, we’re not telling you these facts to scare you — it’s just that contracting with an IT-services partner involves forming a collaborative relationship built on a certain degree of trust. You need to make sure that your network will receive competent, professional care from an experienced and reliable IT company.

To ensure you’re getting the best IT partner for your company, you need to ask any MSP you’re considering the following seven questions. Then, get a quote from EZComputer Solutions to learn how we can make your technology problems disappear so you can focus on your business.

1. What Is Your Onboarding Approach?

Onboarding may seem like a business buzzword, but the term actually describes something very valuable—how you begin a relationship with a new partner. And, it’s certainly a two-way street. You should have an onboarding process for your vendors, but these vendors should also have an effective method for bringing new client accounts onto their rosters.

Your potential technology services partner should ensure the business relationship gets off on the right foot by:

  • Visiting your offices and physically looking at your servers and network.
  • Reviewing any of your current documentation and produce their own to share with you.
  • Learning and sharing information with you to understand the little things that make your network unique

Here at EZComputer Solutions, our services include an initial site survey and network documentation as part of an onboarding process with all of our service plans. We also take time to confer with you on your specific concerns and pain points. The goal of managed IT services is to “make everything just work” so you can focus on running your business. A solid onboarding process is the first step down that path.

2. What Kind of Response Time Should I Expect?

When you’re suffering from work-disrupting computer problems, it can feel like an eternity between the time you place a call for help and when your IT resource responds. And, if you rely on a fully remote partner in a distant city, you most likely will be on hold for a long time waiting for help. Worse yet — if you don’t currently have a dedicated IT services team and are stuck calling a tech support hotline yourself, it might be days until you receive the attention you deserve.

For these reasons, here at EZComputer Solutions, we prefer to work with businesses located within an hour’s drive of our EZComputer Solutions headquarters in Lancaster, PA—and why you should consider working only with MSPs in your local community.  

Even in today’s increasingly remote access world, working with a partner who is just a short drive away can mean the difference between a minor disruption and much more significant—and costly—downtime. And since we typically respond within one hour or less and fix problems quickly, you’ll be back to work in no time.

3. What Is Included in My Service Level Agreement, and What Will I Pay Extra For?

One of the major benefits of working with a contracted MSP versus traditional “break/fix” IT resources is the predictable pricing structure. With MSPs, you pay one fixed and budget-friendly monthly rate to keep your day-to-day business operations running smoothly instead of a pay-per-call service fee.

That said, most MSPs offer a menu of plan options that allow you to bundle just the services you need, so you’re not paying for things you don’t. Always ask what features are included with different plans, and then question whether other businesses like yours regularly need additional services.

Proactive Monitoring and After-Hours Support

For instance, perhaps you don’t feel that you need round-the-clock network monitoring. But what if a hacker infiltrates your network overnight? If you have a problem after hours, you don’t want to wait until the next business day for your IT partner to take action. Ask your vendor about proactive monitoring and support after hours and if they charge extra for this service.

4. Do You Provide Any Value-Added Training Opportunities or Educational Resources?

The benefits of managed IT services go beyond technical support services. What separates good MSPs from great ones is a willingness to help your employees become more tech-savvy. IT Partners can do these types of services can in several active and passive ways.

Ask prospective MSP partners if they offer their customers access to educational resources like webinars, other training events, and support. Do they keep a blog or send newsletters with helpful tips and alerts about tech news that all users should know?

These may sound like unimportant little things, but they tend to demonstrate the company’s understanding that IT is just as much about customer service as it is about taking care of computer equipment.

5. How Will You Keep My Network Safe From Cybercrime?

As we talked about in an earlier blog post, many tech experts believe that the United States is embroiled in an ongoing cyberwar. While that may sound extreme, cybercrime against both large and small businesses alike is a common problem that is only getting worse.

Hands typing on a laptop keyboard with a cybersecurity shield on the screen.

And, this means that good service providers offer proactive and vigilant network and system monitoring to keep away hackers. Always ask prospective MSPs about their approach to cybersecurity tactics and strategies—including data backup protocols—as well as how they stay up to date on the latest threats.

6. Can I Talk to Some of Your Current Customers?

Reading website testimonials and Google My Business reviews is one thing —picking up the phone and chatting with your prospective new IT partner’s current clients is another.

Think of it this way—you wouldn’t hire a new employee without performing a phone screen or checking their references. You should dedicate the same energy to hiring a partner for managed IT services. After all, this resource will have access to your company’s most sensitive systems and data.

Do your due diligence and get the inside story on your prospective IT partner’s service and capabilities from those who know best—their customers. Note, too, how this request is answered. If the MSP in question balks or is reluctant to give you references, that is a red flag.

7. Do You Offer a Money-Back Guarantee?

Hiring a long-term managed IT services partner is a crucial decision for you and your business. Not every company’s culture and values will align with yours. Sometimes personalities between your company and your partner’s company won’t jive. A good MSP will allow you to part ways and refund your money within a set timeframe if their support services aren’t working out for you.

That’s why at EZComputer Solutions, we will refund your money within the first 90 days if you feel that you made a mistake choosing us. We guarantee our support services, giving you peace of mind in transitioning to an MSP to monitor and manage your network and systems.

Get a Quote from EZ Computer Solutions for Managed IT Services

For businesses in Lancaster, Lebanon, York, Dauphin, and Berks counties in Southcentral, PA, we are your small business’ proactive partner for IT services. We invite you to get a quote and ask us all of the questions in today’s post—and more! We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have because we want you to feel comfortable choosing us.

As a bonus, we’re offering a FREE download of our helpful ebook featuring “21 Revealing Questions You Should Ask Any Computer Consultant Before Giving Them Access to Your Company’s Network.”

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