If you’re currently working with a managed services provider, it can be difficult to tell whether or not they are providing the value that they promised you when selling their services.
We put together this guide to help you get crystal clear on how to evaluate them.
The following is a list of questions to help you determine whether or not you’re getting the greatest value from your IT investment and even whether your current MSP is an organization you should continue working with.
Take a closer look. You could be leaving time and money on the table, something no small business can afford.
You have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting the ideal managed services provider for your business. You should know whether or not your current vendor is providing ultimate value and fully supporting your growth and success.
7 Questions to Ask Your Current MSP
#1 - Is their approach truly proactive and preventative?
To get the most out of your relationship with your MSP, it’s critical that they take a variety of steps in order to offer a proactive and preventative IT service.
If your MSP is operating on any sort of break/fix pricing model, they’re likely not providing the value they sold you on. When an MSP sticks to its mutually agreed upon monthly fee, it’s a sign that they’re doing everything in their power to prevent issues from occurring.
After all, if they fix a problem right it’s far less likely that you’ll have to call them out for the same problem over and over, which makes your business more productive and saves the MSP time and money in the long run.
On the other hand, if they’re charging you overages on a regular basis, it’s a sign that they very well may not be operating proactively to ensure issues don’t arise in the future.
These companies are known for putting a band-aid on problems so they get to keep coming back to fix things. A truly valuable MSP will conduct full orthopedic surgery (if need be) to get the problem solved the right way. This works out better for all parties and strengthens the relationship for the long term. A full-service MSP thrives when you have fewer problems, not more!
A proactive MSP will include services like:
All the most up-to-date tools available to run your desktop effectively. Whether it’s antivirus, anti-spyware, or anything else you require—they’ll have you covered.
The necessary documentation, server updates, and all proactive and reactive things that need to happen to keep your network and servers running smoothly. They take care of administering everything so that you can focus on what you do best—running your business.
Never be in doubt again when it comes to your company’s IT. They answer your questions and can provide you with a knowledge base any day of the week.
They put a strategy in place that’s designed to help you and your technology move forward in sync so that you’re getting the maximum value from your investment. They work to make you more efficient and effective.
#2 - Do they respond quickly and resolve issues efficiently?
Many MSPs simply don’t have the manpower to respond as quickly as you need them to or put as many people on the job as needed to resolve the issue efficiently.
Another key sign of a truly valuable MSP is that they have a team of people and do not rely on any one individual to get the job done. Due to this difference, with greater manpower, they’re capable of working more hours, continuously, in a condensed period of time.
Not only do they have the manpower to accomplish more at a faster pace, but they also have world-class tools in place that help them know about problems ahead of time, before it becomes an issue for you or your customers.
If you are relying on a mediocre IT service provider, you will not have an around-the-clock team working for you directly. Our IT services, on the other hand, assure just that. At Live Consulting, we pride ourselves on our proven ability to proactively ensure your environment is running as it should.
#3 - Do they deliver TRUE expertise?
When evaluating MSPs, you’ll likely find that they all claim to be experts. Your current MSP may have sold you under this premise, but you also may be seeing signs that it really isn't the case. There are a few ways to evaluate the level of expertise your MSP provides, including:
Full Team Support and Redundancy
Unfortunately, many MSPs dedicate just one team member to solve all of your problems. In reality, that doesn’t provide you with the expert support you were promised. Different team members provide expertise in different areas and some of your problems will need the support of said experts. You need to have the right person on the job to address every issue that arises optimally.
With this team support comes the added comfort of redundancy. If your dedicated expert is out sick or wins the lottery, you always have one of their counterparts to step in and back them up.
Gone are the days when you could rely on a single expert generalist to solve every IT problem that arose. With Live Consulting you get access to a true team of experts.
Our team members range from hardware technicians to software experts, cloud specialists, and business consultants. Each employee has a documented career path that we use to promote from within. Regular training and certification bonuses are some of the ways we keep employees long term, which is another great way to evaluate your MSP.
Length of Tenure, Retention
The reality is that the typical relationship between IT professionals and an MSP tends to last a few years at best. To add to this, most don’t have refined systems of documentation that allows for them to document a company’s history and also easily pass it on to the next IT individual/team that joins the company in the future. Instead, knowledge often walks out the door with them.
That means leaving your IT strategy with some serious gaps and plenty of work required to fill them. That’s why Live Consulting has worked so hard to build a team of expert, long-term employees and why we document all processes and procedures with each customer.
No matter which member of our team happens to work for you, they have a good idea of how your environment works due to consistent and accurate documentation shared throughout the entire technical team. In fact, documentation is so important that it deserves to be a standalone question.
#4 - Do they document their processes?
We don’t want to harp on documentation more than we have to, but we take it very seriously. You already understand why this question is so important to ask. Now let’s look at what a high-value MSP provides.
During the time we work together, our team produces an IT strategy document specific to the unique needs of your company. This is essentially a documentation of how your operation runs from an IT point of view. Our technicians use this to collaborate both with each other, as well as with you, the client.
If we eventually part ways, we give you this document so that you have a starting base of knowledge to grasp where you stand.
For most small businesses this level of documentation is typically non-existent. Live Consulting takes pride in providing this very important feature for our small business clients.
#5 - Can they scale with your company as it grows?
MSPs come in all shapes and sizes just like any business does. Some managed service providers have trouble keeping up with the needs of their clients. Where they promise the ability to size and scale with your business, they may have trouble hiring internally according to your growth or taking back additional support that was brought on to support a seasonal load.
One of the benefits of working with Live Consulting is that we can modify our agreement based on your needs and do so quickly and efficiently. We work with companies both large and small, and our team understands the fluctuation small businesses go through as they grow, and even in the course of a single calendar year.
Our experience allows us to work with the smallest of businesses, but we also have the knowledge and ability to support the success of multinational enterprises and large organizations, a claim very few MSPs can back up.
We bring some of the practices that an enterprise company uses to your small business, at a price that you can afford. Not every MSP has the ability to do this. We do!
#6 - Are their solutions the best value (not lowest price)?
Like in any industry, there are those managed service providers that try to undercut the competition by offering lower prices. Unfortunately, those prices typically mean far less value to the end user—you.
Live Consulting delivers a high level of value for our mutually agreed upon monthly cost...and only that monthly cost. We offer a fair price, top-of-the-line tech, and exceptional service. We simply deliver the highest ROI compared to our competition, which leads us to an important sub-question: “Do they stick to their contract?”
We touched on this earlier, but If your MSP sold you on a lower price but you’re paying overages for additional services, you’d be wise to take a closer look at just how much value they’re truly delivering.
7 - Do they help you understand the value of your IT?
One of the most important jobs of your MSP is helping you understand the value that they’re providing. That means communicating regularly in plain English to help you see everything they’re doing to support the long-term success of your business.
When you bring on Live Consulting as your chosen MSP, you have the confidence and knowledge that we will frequently sit and speak directly with the C-Level leaders at your company. We discuss ways to improve your business using technology in direct, non-technical language.
If you’re run through this list of questions and it’s obvious that your current MSP is awesome, close this guide and walk away. That said, we’re willing to bet that we’ve raised a lot of good questions that helped you identify large gaps in the service your MSP is providing.
We encourage you to approach your current vendor with these questions and see how they respond. You’re far better educated on managed services and you may not find yourself as sold on their original pitch as you once were.
In any case, we’d love the opportunity to show you how managed services and IT support are supposed to be done. Schedule a complimentary IT audit where we can help you see the light (yeah, we’re that good!).
If you’re not ready to chat be sure to download our interactive Field Guide for Selecting a Strategic IT Partner to evaluate whether your current vendor hold up in the most critical areas.
Here’s to your IT success!