Today’s world is driven by technology.
The business world is no different. Businesses rely on technology to stay connected, fuel growth, secure data, and everything in between.
Finding the right IT provider is critical for businesses of all sizes and can mean the difference between peace of mind knowing that your IT infrastructure is well-managed and reputational damage resulting from a cyberattack due to the lack of a proper cybersecurity strategy.
But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to find the best IT services provider for your business. This is exactly why we’ve compiled this list of 11 things to keep in mind when choosing the right IT provider, over 100 questions to ask any MSP you’re considering, as well as a recent webinar on the same topic.
From evaluating experience to checking customer service and pricing, the tips in this post will help you make informed decisions.
Read on to discover the key factors to consider when choosing the right IT provider for your needs and get the most out of your IT investment.
Do they offer live telephone support?
Live phone support can mean the difference between smooth business operations and catastrophic downtime.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their telephone support:
- Do you offer 24/7 live telephone support?
- Are your support representatives based in the United States?
- What is the average response time for incoming calls?
- How do you ensure the quality of your support services?
- What is the process for escalating complex issues?
- What is the typical experience level of your support team members?
- Do you offer any Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for your live telephone support?
- How do you handle high call volumes during peak times?
- How do you protect our sensitive data during support interactions?
- How do you measure customer satisfaction and gather feedback on your support services?
Is their help desk US-based?
A reliable IT help desk is crucial for any organization. When outsourcing your IT help desk, consider factors such as contact channels (phone, email, live chat, etc.), hours of operation, language, location, and security. For businesses operating in the United States, a local help desk might help with communication, availability, response times, as well as ensuring support staff are familiar with local regulations, laws, and business practices.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their help desk location:
- Is your help desk based in the United States?
- Do your US-based support representatives have any specialized industry knowledge or certifications relevant to our needs?
- How do you ensure the quality and consistency of your US-based help desk services?
- Are the hours of operation for your US-based help desk limited, or do you offer 24/7 support?
- How does your US-based help desk handle data privacy and security concerns in compliance with US regulations?
- Can you provide examples of clients you have successfully supported with your US-based help desk services?
- What is the average response and resolution time for issues handled by your US-based support team?
- How do you train and develop the skills of your US-based help desk representatives?
- Are there any additional costs or pricing differences associated with your US-based help desk services compared to your global support offerings?
- How do you gather and use customer feedback to continuously improve the performance and effectiveness of your US-based help desk services?
Do they have a positive reputation?
Read customer reviews and testimonials when researching an IT partner’s business. These customer insights are valuable and help paint a picture of service quality, customer support, reliability, and overall existing client satisfaction.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their reputation:
- Can you provide me with customer references or testimonials that demonstrate your company’s reputation?
- How long have you been in the IT services industry, and what has contributed to your success?
- Have you received any awards, certifications, or recognitions for your IT services?
- Can you share some case studies highlighting your successful IT projects and their outcomes?
- How do you ensure customer satisfaction and build long-lasting relationships with your clients?
- What is your client retention rate, and how does it compare to industry benchmarks?
- Can you provide examples of how you have resolved challenging situations or issues to ensure a positive outcome for your clients?
- Are there any notable clients or partners in our industry that you have worked with or provided services to?
- How do you stay current with the latest industry trends and technology advancements to maintain your reputation as a leading IT services provider?
- How do your clients typically rate your company in terms of communication, project management, and overall service quality?
Do they have specific access control policies?
Another important question to ask your IT partner regards their access control policies. Ensure only authorized personnel have access to your company’s, customer’s, and employee’s sensitive data and systems. This helps protect your organization from security breaches, data leaks, and ensures cybersecurity best practice.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their access control policies:
- How do you ensure only authorized personnel can access our data and systems?
- Can you provide specific access control measures you have in place?
- Do you have an overview or your role-based access control (RBAC) systems?
- Do you have information about how you monitor and audit access to client data?
- Can you ensure your policies are compliant with relevant regulations and standards (GDPR, HIPAA, etc.)?
- What authentication and authorization methods do you deploy (multi-factor authentication (MFA), single sign-on (SSO), etc.)?
- How do you approach remote access to client systems?
- How often do you review and update your policies?
- Can you provide any examples of how your access control policies have successfully mitigated security risks or prevented data breaches in the past?
Does their team consist of diverse qualifications, experiences, skills, and expertise?
It’s no secret that diverse teams perform better than non-diverse teams. Ask your IT services partner about their team and whether or not it’s made up of diverse talent, skill sets, expertise, qualifications, and experiences. This will ensure they can effectively manage your infrastructure and contribute positively to your overall business goals.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their team’s skills and experiences:
- Can you provide an overview of your team, including skills, experience, and backgrounds?
- Do you feel confident your team can manage our network and address our needs?
- How do you ensure performance of your team members?
- Can you offer an overview of your team structure?
- How do you promote team collaboration?
- How do you ensure your team stays up-to-date with industry trends and best practices?
- How do you handle team member turnover or transitions to ensure minimal impact on project timelines and deliverables?
- Can you provide examples of projects where your team has successfully collaborated to overcome challenges or deliver exceptional results?
- How does your company support the professional growth and development of its team members to maintain a high level of expertise and performance?
Do they take a proactive approach to IT?
When considering an IT services provider, their ability to proactively monitor, maintain, and optimize your systems will help prevent issues before escalating. This means reduced downtime, ultimately saving time and valuable business resources.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their approach to IT:
- Does your team take a proactive approach to IT, anticipating potential issues and addressing them before they become problems?
- How do you monitor and analyze our systems and infrastructure to identify potential vulnerabilities or areas for improvement?
- What proactive maintenance and support services do you offer to ensure our IT environment remains secure and optimized?
- Can you provide examples of how your proactive measures have prevented downtime or security breaches for your clients?
- How do you stay informed about the latest industry trends, emerging technologies, and security threats to help protect our systems proactively?
- Do you offer any proactive training or resources to our staff to help them identify and prevent potential IT issues?
- How do you develop and implement proactive strategies tailored to our specific industry and business needs?
- Can you describe your process for conducting regular reviews and audits of our IT systems to ensure they remain secure and up-to-date?
- What proactive communication methods do you employ to keep us informed about the health of our IT environment and any potential concerns?
- How does your team proactively adapt and respond to changing business needs or priorities to ensure ongoing IT support and alignment with our objectives?
Does their team emphasize the importance of regularly testing backup restores?
With cyberattacks growing in both frequency and complexity, it is important to verify your IT partner regularly tests backup restores and is able to ensure your data can be reliably recovered in the case of a cyberattack, system failure, accidental data loss, or other natural disasters.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their backup policies:
- Can you ensure data can be reliably recovered in case of system failure, disaster, or cyberattack?
- Can you provide an overview of your backup and disaster recovery policies (including backup types and frequency)?
- How do you secure and protect our backup data from unauthorized access and/or corruption?
- How do you validate the effectiveness of your procedures to ensure successful restoration?
- What is the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) for your services? How do they align with our requirements?
- How do you handle data stored on-premise, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments?
- Do you have examples of successful data recovery you’ve executed for your clients?
- Can you ensure your policies are compliant with industry regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, or CMMC?
- In the event of a disaster, how do you prioritize the recovery process?
Do they offer flat-rate or fixed-fee project quotes?
Examining your IT services partner’s pricing structure, determining whether they provide flat-rate or fixed-fee project quotes will help you better manage your budget and avoid unexpected costs.
Download our IT Buyers Guide for even more detailed information about what you should expect to pay for IT support for your business.
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Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their pricing model:
- Do you offer flat-rate or fixed-fee project quotes, or do you use an hourly billing model?
- Can you provide a detailed breakdown of your pricing structure, including any setup fees, recurring charges, or additional costs we should be aware of?
- Are there any flexible pricing options available, such as tiered service levels or customized packages, to accommodate our specific needs and budget?
- How do you handle changes in project scope or requirements that may impact the overall cost of the engagement?
- Are there any discounts or incentives available for long-term contracts or high-volume service commitments?
- Can you provide examples of how your pricing models have delivered cost savings or added value for your clients?
- How do your pricing models compare to your competitors’, and what sets your offerings apart in terms of cost-effectiveness and value?
- Do you offer any service level agreements (SLAs) or performance guarantees that are tied to your pricing models?
- How often do you review and adjust your pricing models to ensure they remain competitive and aligned with industry benchmarks?
- What payment terms and options do you offer, and how do they align with our organization’s financial policies and procedures?
Do you have to manage their progress on projects?
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to constantly supervise and guide an IT partner. Ask clarifying questions about the level of involvement required early on and ensure your IT services provider is capable of managing their own project progress.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their project management philosophies:
- Do you need supervision and guidance from our team for projects you’re managing, or do you operate independently and proactively?
- Can you provide an overview of your project management approach, including the methodologies, tools, and best practices you use to ensure successful outcomes?
- How do you maintain clear lines of communication throughout our project?
- How do you handle project scope changes?
- Do you have examples of similar projects you’ve successfully managed and contributed to?
- How do you track and report on progress, milestones, and KPIs?
- How do you ensure projects are completed with the highest quality, on time, and within budget?
- How do you ensure our team is involved in key decision making?
- Can you describe your post-project evaluation process?
- How do you ensure resources are managed efficiently and effectively (personnel, time, budget, etc.)?
Can they help satisfy your cyber regulatory and insurance requirements?
When considering an IT services provider, be sure they can assist your organization with meeting cyber regulatory and insurance requirements. This is usually verified through documentation, assessments, and compliance measures.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about their cyber regulatory and insurance services:
- Can you help my organization meet any cyber regulatory and insurance requirements by providing the necessary documentation, assessments, and compliance measures?
- How do you ensure your IT services are compliant with relevant industry regulations and standards, such as GDPR, HIPAA, CMMC, or PCI DSS?
- Can you provide examples of how you have helped clients achieve and maintain compliance with specific cybersecurity regulations or frameworks?
- What is your process for staying informed about the latest regulatory changes and emerging compliance requirements in our industry?
- How do you incorporate compliance best practices into your IT service offerings and project management methodologies?
- Can you assist with conducting regular security assessments, audits, and penetration tests to identify potential vulnerabilities and support our ongoing compliance efforts?
- How do you manage and secure our sensitive data in accordance with applicable data protection and privacy regulations?
- Can you provide any cybersecurity training or resources to our staff to help them understand and adhere to compliance requirements?
- How do you handle incident response and reporting in the event of a security breach, ensuring compliance with regulatory and legal requirements?
- Can you describe your experience working with regulatory authorities, auditors, or other stakeholders to address compliance-related concerns or inquiries?
Do they practice what they preach?
Last but not least, be sure your IT services provider practices what they preach and and follow their own security and IT management best practices. Not only does this offer you peace of mind, it gives you an understanding of how committed they are to best practices and quality of service. A reliable IT partner should adhere to the same standards they recommend to their clients.
Questions to ask your current or future IT services provider about how they manage their own IT environment:
- Do you adhere to the same standards and best practices you recommend to clients when managing your own IT environment?
- How do you ensure your company’s internal cybersecurity measures are in line with the solutions and strategies you provide to your clients?
- Can you provide examples of how you have successfully implemented the technologies, processes, or methodologies you recommend within your own organization?
- How do you stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices to ensure the advice and services you provide to clients remain relevant and effective?
- Do you conduct regular assessments, audits, and penetration tests on your own systems?
- How do you maintain a culture of continuous improvement?
- Do you feel you can demonstrate your commitment to data privacy by sharing your own protection policies and procedures?
- Do your employees receive ongoing training and development to ensure expertise in your service areas?
- What certifications or awards do you have that demonstrate your commitment to your own cybersecurity?
- Do you have client testimonials or case studies that highlight your successes?
The technology landscape is rapidly evolving and it’s important for businesses to have the tools, resources, and partnerships necessary to handle challenges and remain competitive. This starts with choosing the right IT service provider.
Keep in mind the 11 considerations and 100+ questions we’ve discussed and you can make more informed decisions when partnering with an MSP.
Remember, your IT service provider is not just a vendor, they’re a partner. The right partner will be committed to your success.
We hope this post and associated webinar give you valuable insights. Never forget, no matter where you are in your journey, Zog, Inc. is here to help. The right decision now will pay dividends later.