Hiring a managed IT services provider is a little different than contracting with other types of new vendors in your business. In fact, it’s not unlike determining whether a prospective new permanent employee will be a good fit for your business’ culture and priorities.
Why should you spend more time vetting potential IT partners than, say, a new office supplies vendor?
Your computer systems and network are the lifeblood of your operations, as they store invaluable data about your customers, operations, and more. These resources are also vulnerable to external threats and could potentially damage your business if disaster strikes.
Now, we’re not telling you this to scare you- it’s just that contracting with an IT services partner involves forming a collaborative relationship built on a certain degree of trust. You need to make sure that your network will receive capable, professional care.
To accomplish this, you need to ask any managed IT services provider you’re considering illuminating questions like these.
WHAT IS YOUR ONBOARDING APPROACH?
Onboarding may seem like a business buzzword, but the term actually describes something very valuable – how you begin a relationship with a new partner. And, it’s certainly a two-way street. You should have an onboarding process for your vendors, but these vendors should also have an effective method of bringing new client accounts onto their rosters.
One of the first questions you should ask potential managed IT services provider partners is how they ensure the business relationship gets off on the right foot.
- Do they visit your office and physically take a look at your servers and network setup?
- Do they review any documentation you already have in place for your tech assets and then produce their own to share with you? This learning and information sharing process can be critical to understanding the little things that make your network unique.
Here at DG ROM CO, we take time to confer with you on your specific concerns and pain points. The goal of managed IT services is to “make everything just work” so you can focus on running your business. A solid onboarding process is the first step down that path.
WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE TIME CAN I EXPECT?
When you’re suffering from work disrupting computer problems, it can feel like an eternity between the time you place a call for help and when your IT resource actually responds. And if you rely on a fully remote partner in a distant city or – worse yet – don’t currently have a dedicated IT services team on your side and are stuck calling a tech support hotline yourself, it might actually be days until you receive the attention you deserve.
This is why we prefer to work with businesses that are located within an hour’s drive of our headquarters – and why you should consider working only with managed IT services provider in your local community. Even in today’s increasingly remote access world, working with a partner who is just a short drive away can mean the difference between a minor disruption and much more significant – and costly – downtime.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN MY SERVICE, AND WHAT WILL I PAY EXTRA FOR?
One of the major benefits of working with a contracted MSP versus traditional “break/fix” IT resources is the predictable pricing structure.
With MSPs, you will pay one fixed and budget-friendly monthly rate to keep everything running smoothly instead of a per-call service fee. That said, most MSPs offer a menu of plan options that allow you to bundle just the services you need so you’re not paying for things you don’t. Always ask what features are included with different plans, and then question whether other businesses like yours tend to need additional services regularly.
For instance, perhaps you don’t feel that you need round-the-clock network monitoring. But what of a hacker infiltrates your network overnight? If you have a problem after hours, you don’t want to wait until the next business day for your IT partner to take action. Ask your vendor about monitoring and support after hours, and if any additional charges will be incurred.