Is your business trying to find the right IT support company? If so, you aren’t alone. All businesses need IT support, regardless of their size. Choosing the right company is the biggest dilemma.
As the IT industry continues to develop, more businesses will require IT support to remain competitive.
Managed IT services are becoming an increasingly popular choice for small businesses. The need for technical support is ongoing, so it’s wise to have a dedicated IT team on hand.
Before meeting with managed services providers, have a list of questions about their services, experience, and costs. Below is our list of twenty questions you can use to help establish candidate criteria and find the right IT support company.
Why It’s Crucial to Ask Managed Services the Right IT Support Questions
Every company has its unique qualities. You want managed IT services that are specific to your industry and size. You also want to ensure the company you choose is capable of delivering what they promised.
Technological advancements have made it easier for people to leave their nine to five and start businesses in their chosen professions. The managed services industry anticipated reaching $72.88 billion in 2021.
You don’t want to fall prey to a company not equipped to provide the services your business requires. Essential services a bonafide IT service provider will offer include:
- Cloud Computing
- Data Center Solutions
- End-user Support
- Help Desk Support
Choose a company that treats your business as an extension of its operations. You want proactive responses and solutions from a team that notifies you of issues and how the matter will get resolved. Or provide details if they’ve already resolved the issue.
Questions to ask at the initial IT consultation should include the following questions.
1. Do They Have Experience Within Your Industry?
It’s easy to lump all IT services into one category. However, some industries have needs that others do not. When selecting managed IT services, you want a firm knowledgeable about your industry.
Ask if they have experience working in your industry. Outline any special requirements that are specific to the services you offer. Even if you believe something is a fundamental task that a technical person will understand, don’t assume they are familiar with your industry’s protocols.
When outsourcing part of your business operations, you don’t want to piecemeal responsibilities. You will most likely incur additional expenses if you rely on more than one provider.
2. What is Your Pricing Structure?
The pricing structure is essential when entering into a contract for outsourced services. The tier-pricing structure increase as additional services gets added. Some companies offer preset packages that include a list of services.
Often, a tiered pricing structure gets established to address the needs of entrepreneurs, small businesses, enterprises, and corporations.
Another option for pricing is an ala carte menu. This option is suitable for a client who may only need one or two services. It’s less expensive and allows you to only pay for the services you need.
Review the details of each tier. Ask about the costs of including additional services if what you need isn’t listed. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of selecting the next package. In other instances, you’ll need to know if the client will allow you to add on services.
3. What Is Their Average Response Time to Support Requests?
Average response time is essential when contracting IT services. You want a company that can assess issues and provides a quick turnaround. In the perfect business setting, having an IT department is ideal. A company with in-house IT support can expect a faster turnaround time because the employees are on site. However, many companies can’t financially support hiring a full-time IT person.
You can eliminate delayed response times and backlogged tickets by contracting with an IT service provider.
Their team of professionals can resolve tasks quicker and more efficiently.
The added value in outsourcing is having a team of professionals instead of relying on one or two people. Your internal and external clients benefit because there is limited downtime.
4. Do They Offer 24/7 Support?
In addition to average response times, asking about 24/7 support is another vital question. Companies with office hours of 9 to 5 might overlook the importance of having 24/7 IT support.
Just because your business isn’t open at night or on weekends doesn’t mean you won’t experience issues during off times. A system can go down, or you need to perform upgrades. Your dedicated IT support team makes it easier to handle these responsibilities during non-business hours.
Employees sometimes work overtime, or you need to offer training on the weekends. You’ll need IT support if something goes wrong.
Does your company have a client-based website? If so, managed IT services can provide 24/7 support for your website.
5. What’s Included in Their Service Agreement?
Always read the fine print of a contract. Whether business or personal, you always want to know and understand every contract aspect before committing.
Ask the service provider for a copy of their standard contract before your first meeting. Review the contract with a legal professional. Outline any areas of concern.
Present your questions during your IT consulting session. Discuss your concerns and ask if the company allows for modifications. Smaller IT providers may not have the capabilities to deviate from their standard agreement.
Also, understand that making changes to the service agreement can impact the price of services. IT companies don’t want to overextend themselves or expose their company to legal liabilities.
6. What Services Does the IT Support Provider Offer?
Before contacting a company about their managed services, you’ve most likely been to their website. Don’t assume that the services listed on the site are all-inclusive. The company could offer additional services.
Likewise, if you don’t see a service listed, ask the company representative if they offer what you require. You’ll be surprised how many companies are willing to surpass their standard offerings to win a client’s business.
Keep in mind that IT managed services providers hire the best in IT. Their employees come with a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience. If down the line you have a unique project, let them know, and chances are they can handle the request.
If not, they may be able to connect you with an industry partner.
7. What Are the Company’s Rates for Special Projects?
A growing company will have many opportunities to improve its business. Whether implementing new software programs or developing a new website, IT consulting can help get the ball rolling.
It’s a common assumption that managed IT services are help desk support and someone maintaining servers. There is much more to outsourcing IT services.
If you need a company that has a development team, they’ll have special rates for projects. Present the company with an outline of your project, including objectives and implementation timelines.
Work together to determine every aspect of the project, including bringing on a project management team to oversee every step from conception to completion.
8. Do You Monitor for Cyber Threats and Cyber Intrusions?
Fear of security breaches is a top reason why small businesses are reluctant to move to cloud-based platforms. Managed IT services alleviates these concerns.
Managed IT support understands the complexities of keeping their client’s data secure. They also must follow current mandates and protocols for safe storage.
The right IT consulting firm will review and monitor your systems and implement security assessment planning. Their teams get trained in assessing risks and creating a plan to mitigate them. By doing so, your company’s data is safer and always accessible.
Ask the service provider for a list of protocols they follow to ensure the safety and integrity of your data.
9. What Is the Company’s Experience With Individual Software Programs?
The main reason businesses still have onsite servers is to house software programs. Today, a majority of business programs are Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud-based licensed subscriptions.
Prior to meeting with someone regarding IT services, take inventory of all program software your company uses. Notate the manufacturer, editions, and which ones get managed in-house.
A vital question to ask managed IT service providers is whether they can manage software essential to your business operations. Contracting outsourced IT support requires knowledge of various software.
Businesses can experience extended downtime when in-house servers malfunction. Plus, the wait time to get IT support personnel to come to your site and fix the issue is another concern to address.
Most IT services providers will explore opportunities to move the software to cloud hosting.
10. What Is Your Reputation Score?
What customers say about companies you’re exploring as industry partners is valuable information. Technology has made it easier than ever to access information on IT service providers.
Before you go to Google Reviews or other review sites, ask the IT provider how they would rate their services. Look for them to share information on industry awards, technology magazine articles, and customer satisfaction surveys.
It’s interesting to hear firsthand what businesses believe are their strongest assets. Of course, no one is going to say we are horrible at something. However, it speaks to their character to admit if they can’t handle a task vital to your company.
Compare the information to results from other verifiable sources.
11. Do You Offer Cloud Storage
It’s not always a given that someone offering IT services also offer cloud storage. Some companies offer IT support in which all their services entail them coming to your business to address issues.
Cloud storage is an asset that everyone should be utilizing by now. Data and software are accessible wherever you can access the web. Moving to cloud storage also eliminates the need for servers that take up space you could utilize for something else.
A critical component of managed IT services is data recovery. When asking potential IT providers that offer cloud storage, also ask about protocols to recover data if there’s an issue.
Cost efficiency is central to companies requesting cloud storage. It’s more affordable to use the cloud than invest in costly servers that are subject to outages. The cloud is limitless, so you won’t experience having to buy more storage as the business grows.
12. Is the IT Support Contract Negotiable
Some contracts are non-negotiable. However, you won’t know if you decide not to ask. The IT support contracts will cover the base services the company offers. This offering may not correlate with your business needs.
It’s easy to feel as though you’re paying for services you don’t need. Inquire upfront if there’s room for negotiation.
Before asking to negotiate, first ensure you understand the full scope of what the company is offering. Weigh the list against the services you need.
13. Can You Provide Data on Your Customer Service Department?
Customer service can make or break a business.
When contracting IT support services, it is crucial to ask for data on call center response times.
Chances are if you or your staff calls the provider, it’s because you need assistance with a technical issue. Getting placed on hold for long periods becomes frustrating. Speaking to someone unfamiliar with your account can make it seem like your business isn’t valued.
Have clear expectations for the company’s customer service protocols. Discuss metrics like hold times, return call times, designated client service representatives, and escalation procedures.
Ask questions to gauge the average time clients have utilized their services.
14. How Many Employees Do You Have?
Have you ever visited a company’s website, and it appeared they had a large global team? Later you learned the business used third-party companies for most of their services. The only people on the company’s payroll included the owner and salespeople.
Asking a service provider questions about staffing is essential. You want to ensure they have a dedicated team familiar with your account.
You understand that third-party resources are beneficial to the success of companies, large and small. How the company integrates outside resources play a significant role in your satisfaction with their services. That’s why you’re seeking managed IT services.
Learn how much access third-party companies will have to your account information. Ask how many people are employed by the company vs. outsourced specialists. Getting an estimate on the number of IT support team members who work for the company is essential for hands-on business owners.
15. Do You Offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Service level agreements establish the client’s expectations for the managed services provider. The agreement assures the promises made by the salesperson align with the service provided.
The SLA has multiple components, including agreed-upon goals, requirements of both parties, and consequences.
Both parties must agree on the goals. Obtainable metrics get established for the measurement of performance. A good example would be calls to the help desk getting answered within thirty seconds, 97% of the time.
Your SLA will also include a plan of action when the service levels fall below expectation. Although most SLAs have financial remedies, other actions include service credits, procedural changes, or disciplinary action.
The ultimate price of not adhering to SLAs is losing the client. Termination clauses often allow the client to end the contract without penalty.
16. What Is Covered by Your Service Contract?
It seems like a no-brainer, but many people don’t read contracts word-for-word. Others don’t bother asking what gets covered in the contract. They take notes at the sales meeting and believe everything discussed gets outlined in the contract.
That is until an issue arises and they learn a service they expected isn’t included in the paperwork they signed.
Before entering a sales meeting, you should know what you expect from the company. Express your desired services and ensure the managed IT services provider can deliver. Once the contract is approved, ask how long the rates are valid.
Have your business manager and/or attorney review the contract for accuracy and inclusion of essential requests. Once you sign the contract, it becomes a binding legal document.
Don’t miss the opportunity to include a cancellation clause if buyer’s remorse sets in and you change your mind. The cancellation clause gives the customer a set number of days to back out of the agreement.
17. Is Legal Representation Offered in Cases Where the Client Gets Harmed?
Recovering from a cyber attack can be expensive and sometimes cost enough to put a company out of business.
You should ensure that your MSP has partnerships with experts who can help put the pieces back together, research the attack’s source, and put in place steps to ensure any holes are patched.
We’ve seen that even the best protections can be compromised in some situations, and having a team on your side to keep your business moving is important to the future health of your company.
18. Can You Explain Your Disaster Recovery Plan?
There are five major components to a disaster recovery plan:
The IT services provider is responsible for valuable data and assets for your company. Just as you have a business continuity plan, so should every outsource company you have contracted for services.
Ask the service provider for a copy of their recovery plan. Make sure it includes steps for how quickly you’ll get notified of the disaster, as well as the impact on your company.
19. Is Risk Analysis and Vulnerability Assessments a Service You Offer?
There’s no better way to learn of potential risks and vulnerabilities in your systems and access to data than utilizing an IT consulting service. The experts will review your current systems and make recommendations. They can give you a complete outlook on your systems and information security.
It is beneficial to both parties to do a risk analysis at the start of the partnership. This way, both parties know potential weaknesses and can devise a plan to update security protocols.
The managed IT services provider should want to perform a full assessment, especially if a service level agreement is attached to the contract.
20. Is Mobile Device Management Available?
Over the past few years, many businesses have moved to a remote work model. The decision led to investments in mobile devices to equip employees with the tools needed to succeed. Although not highly recommended, some employees were allowed to use personal devices for business-related tasks.
These devices include:
- Mobile Phones
- Computer Screens
Mobile device management is essential to help employers track and protect mobile devices. One issue employers faced was employees traveling when they were allowed to work from home. Or going to public locations to work and connecting to open public wi-fi.
Managed IT service providers can offer to include the following:
- Application Security
- Device Tracking
- Endpoint Security
- Identity and Access Management
- Mobile Management
Providers use software to track devices and performance. Part of mobile device management is the ability to protect the company’s data, issue secure VPNs, and utilize GPS tracking.
The overall goal of mobile device management is to measure the user’s behavior and track how business data gets used. You are ultimately accountable for ensuring information is safe and not exposed to risks.
Make 2022 the Year You Invest in Managed IT Services
Growing a business is like giving birth: it’s one of the most rewarding yet exhausting experiences. But no business can survive without effective technological performance. That’s why they hire IT support to help mitigate problems.
Small and medium-sized businesses looking to outsource IT should do so with confidence and a plan.
Truit has true information technology solutions for your business needs. Weigh the pros and cons of making the switch. Check out our services, and then give us a call at 1 (844) 659-8324.