Ask These Questions When Selecting an MSP

Selecting an MSP

Written by Jackie Bilodeau

I am the Communications Director for CGNET, having returned to CGNET in 2018 after a 10-year stint in the 1990's. I enjoy hiking, music, dance, photography, writing and travel. Read more about my work at CGNET here.

February 1, 2024

You’ve decided it’s time for your organization to select a managed service provider (MSP) to work with you on all things IT. You’ve realized that by outsourcing some or all your IT to an MSP you will now be able to focus more on your work and strategic initiatives. With a solid MSP, you can expect consistent network monitoring, updating and maintenance, and the mitigation of cybersecurity risks by a team of specialized professionals who have access to the latest technology. But how do you go about choosing the managed service provider that is right for your specific organization? Here are some questions to consider during your selection process…And a couple of bonus tips.

Do they “get” your organization?

It is important that the MSP you choose understands your work. This applies to both your industry, as well as the unique workings of your own organization. IT solutions are not “one size fits all”. In fact, it is critical that an MSP understand what your work requires on a day-to-day basis to operate effectively, as well as any regulatory compliance issues that are specific to it. They should express a curiosity about what makes your organization “tick” and want to learn more about it to help develop the necessary IT strategies for you.

Do they guarantee fast response times and escalation?

The idea of 24/7 MSP support is great in theory, but if you’re left waiting hours just to get a call or email back then maybe it’s not as efficient as it sounds. Ask follow-up questions to see if your potential managed services provider will provide a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that ensures fast response times for both on and off-site support. Find out how tickets are escalated up through their support hierarchy based on urgency and level of importance.

Can they offer a flat rate pricing option?

Make sure that your MSP is transparent about their pricing and doesn’t nickel-and-dime you for every little thing. Look for a provider that offers a flat-rate pricing model that includes all the services you need.

Are they willing to work with your in-house IT staff?

If you already have in-house IT support and are simply looking for a little external help, you need to confirm that the MSP is willing to work with them, instead of looking to replace them.

Do they have staff available for in-person visits?

Your MSP should have support staff available to come to your place of business when necessary. Remote monitoring and service is fine for many problems, but there are times where you’ll need them to visit you on-site for a problem or audit. And you are much better off working directly with your MSP’s staff, who can get to know you and your staff personally and make better decisions for and with you, than with outsourced IT professionals who may not have the full picture.

What is their approach to cybersecurity?

It’s important to ensure that your MSP has an extensive security management system in place. This includes firewalls, antivirus software, endpoint detection and response systems, and so on.

Are they proactive when it comes to system maintenance and upgrades?

A good MSP should be proactive in maintaining your systems and ensuring that they are up to date with the latest software and security patches. This helps to prevent downtime and ensures that your organization is always running smoothly.

Will they provide you with complete infrastructure transparency?

Your MSP should provide you with complete visibility into your infrastructure, including network performance, server health, and more. This helps you to identify potential issues before they become major problems.

What are their disaster recovery procedures?

It’s critical to have a disaster recovery plan in place in case of a major outage or data loss. Make sure that your MSP has a solid disaster recovery plan that includes regular backups and testing.

Do they offer any cyber security education programs?

Your employees are often the weakest link in your cybersecurity chain. Look for an MSP that offers cybersecurity education programs to help your employees stay up to date on the latest threats and best practices.

Some Bonus Advice

When selecting an MSP that’s the right fit for your organization, now more than ever it is important to look for someone who has experience managing remote work, work-from-home, and hybrid work environments in addition to typical office situations. As you probably well understand since the pandemic, there’s much more involved with setting up remote and hybrid workers than those in the office. It’s crucial that the MSP you choose has experience and understanding about the special challenges of remote work. This is especially true when it comes to the additional cybersecurity risks remote work poses. Additionally, make sure the MSP has a designated person that can meet regularly with your own representative, to provide updates and gather your organization’s input.

With these questions and considerations in your back pocket, you are on your way to selecting a managed service provider that’s the right fit for your organization!

Written by Jackie Bilodeau

I am the Communications Director for CGNET, having returned to CGNET in 2018 after a 10-year stint in the 1990's. I enjoy hiking, music, dance, photography, writing and travel. Read more about my work at CGNET here.

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