10 Questions You Should Be Asking your Managed Service Provider…
What is an MSP?
This Tech Tuesday, we are going to be talking about Managed Service Providers (MSP) and what their roles entail. Some of you may not even know what an MSP does or how it affects a company. The Managed Service Provider helps stay cost-effective while remotely managing your services on a proactive basis. Usually, Managed Service Providers consult with companies on what their next steps should be, whether upgrading their unified communications services to server security.
Before you purchase an outsourced MSP, you should be asking them about what exactly they are bringing to the table for you and your company. There should be a personal connection between you and the Managed Service Provider. You do not want to be calling a 1-800 number when something goes wrong; you want to be able to call someone, on the spot, with an actual cell phone number ready to help. The MSP should know you and the company as well as you do (as an employee or business owner), meaning they should know about risks in your industry and stop them before they happen.
Here are some questions you should be asking a managed service provider before signing a contract.
- What is the Information Security policy for their company?
The MSP should have specific limitations on what employees can and cannot access on their network. There should be specific limitations on client information and their employees should only be using protected equipment from the MSP itself. All employees should go through training or orientation the first couple of days or weeks of being there and should be regularly tested on BEC (Business Email Compromise). The MSP should also be setting very specific password requirements so that no password can be guessed by an outside source.
- Is your MSP Providing you a 2-factor identification for emails?
If they say no, you should be very hesitant about asking them to be your Managed Service Provider. Without having a two-factor identification, it makes it considerably easy for hackers to gain access to their systems and, even worse, your own. Make sure they are protecting their own company as much as they are protecting others. If they can’t protect themselves, how will you expect them to protect you?
- Do their calls get answered by a live person?
There is nothing worse than getting stuck on the phone with an automated person. In the case of an emergency, if they do not provide a live person, do you really want to be talking to an automation and waiting anxiously for 30-60 minutes just for them to ask you what the reason is for your call? Your MSP should provide you with a specific person, ready to take your phone call in case there is an emergency. That person should know your network better than you do and the risks and problems that your network is having.
- How often do they update, or perform maintenance on their infrastructure, and will that result in downtime for your company?
This question gives you the answer to the level of attentiveness of the MSP. If they aren’t attentive to their own network, how do you expect them to take care of your own? This question also gives you insight if your normal business day will be delayed because of the updates or reboots they may be doing to your system and their own. Time is valuable for every business; some of us can’t afford to be down for a day. Make sure they do their reboots at night or on weekends so that way, you aren’t losing any business during your own time.
- What makes them different from other Managed Service Providers?
This is a repetitive question MSPs deal with, so their answer might sound generic — the one that gives you the most detailed information and examples of what they actually do differently from the rest is more relieving than a simple generic answer. If you feel like they still aren’t giving you a good enough answer, then that might be the time to step away from the conversation. If your MSP cannot tell you what makes them better than the rest, then they probably aren’t, and it’s time to move on.
- How long does it take for them to onboard a new client?
The reasoning to get an MSP is to essentially make your life easier, not harder. Ask the MSP how long it would take for them to onboard your network? If they are not able to give you a detailed outline of their onboarding process, leave the meeting. The usual time it takes, depending on the size of the company it can take 2-4 weeks depending on how well the company has taken care of its network. On the other hand, I would rather quality and efficiency than being rushed into a new process and not have it be set up correctly. If they need to take a month to onboard, so be it — rather that than not have my network set up correctly!
- How does their service desk ensure that every ticket is handled within a reasonable time frame?
We all need to understand that some tasks are more severe than others (meaning they take a little longer to fix) but all should be handled with care, quality, and efficiency. Your MSP should have statistics about how long it takes for each tech to handle a single ticket. Let them show you their stats about their tickets and the rating their techs receive on them. This would also be a good way to ask for their client references. Not only do you want to see the stats about the company but you also want to hear from their clients and their perspective of the company.
- How proactive are their services, and how do they communicate with clients about future steps?
You want a Managed Service Provider that will find the problem BEFORE it happens. The MSP should be providing you with guidance about the next steps specific to the type of company you are and your needs. An MSP should never be focused solely on revenue; they should be more focused on keeping your network safe from harm and guiding you to the right steps to accomplish that. You and your MSP should have the same mission when it comes to your company. Your mission and goals should be similar when it comes to your cybersecurity needs.
Also, the MSP should have a specific person like a vCIO (virtual Chief Information Officer) to be consistently meeting with you and updating you on the company network and how it is performing. Your vCIO should essentially know your company as much as you do, if not more. They should know the problems you deal with, your process, and propose a better solution, if its network-related, to make your company more efficient.
- What is their documenting process?
An MSP should have a confidential platform that all technicians are able to access. There is no reason to not have documentation of a company and its process, but it should be treated with the utmost care (the documentation should be on a separate server). If anything is to be documented, it should be in a platform containing a 2-factor-authentication, and it should not be allowed access to anyone except to tech assigned on that specific company.
- What are their Values?
You do not want to talk to an MSP that doesn’t have any core values towards its company or employees. Make sure that their heart is in the right place when they approach you and your company. You want an MSP that is respectful, loyal, efficient and caring all while getting the job done in a timely fashion. Make sure you can visualize the MSP within your company and see if there will be a fit for them in your company. Make sure their core values meet yours.
At Groff NetWorks, we take the time to get to know you and your company first before we make any sort of move in your network. We want to make sure that our services and visions are a fit for each other. We as an MSP keep you updated on any new or old issues to be as preventative as possible. At Groff NetWorks, a core value of ours is having a servant’s heart. That means we are open, honest, and caring when it comes to our work and our clients. To see if we are the right fit for you, call us at 518-320-8906 or fill out a new client form on our website groffnetworks.com.