Word-of-mouth recommendations, reviews, and search engine results are all brilliant ways to discover new solutions to pressing problems. You may have no hesitation in trying out a book recommended by a colleague or a restaurant that’s getting excellent reviews. However, when it comes to cybersecurity and IT support, it’s essential to ask a few questions before following a recommendation.
In the world of enterprise IT support, your focus should be less on finding the “best” Managed Service Provider and more on finding the right Managed Service Provider for your industry, business size, systems, network, and preferences. For example, if you have Fortinet Network Security, it’s essential to partner with an MSP that specialises in Fortinet support and maintenance. An otherwise brilliant MSP that specialises in WatchGuard will not be ideally equipped to offer the support you need.
Questions To Ask An MSP
To find the right IT support for your company, ask any MSP or IT consultant on your shortlist the following five questions.
Can I see your most relevant references?
Most IT support companies provide testimonials on their websites, and you should be able to see reviews via Google My Business and other platforms. However, these testimonials are often general in nature and they may be from businesses that have entirely different parameters and needs compared to yours.
An IT support company that has glowing reviews from small business owners may indeed be brilliant at what they do. However, if you’re a mid-sized business going through a growth phase, they simply may not be suited to your needs.
Similarly, if you operate in the healthcare industry, rely heavily on cloud services, and have recently experienced a data breach, it may not be ideal to partner with an MSP that has never worked with healthcare clients, even if their testimonials are glowing.
So, don’t be shy about asking for details of any companies they support that rely on the same systems as you and that have similar needs.
Do you have IT consultants who specialise in my industry and systems?
Building from the last question, it’s essential to go a step deeper and assess the skills, qualifications, and certifications of the technicians who’ll be supporting your business.
Returning to the Fortinet example, there are plenty of MSPs that deal with Fortinet products. Fortinet is, after all, one of the biggest names in the cybersecurity world, and in Australia, it’s experiencing phenomenal growth.
However, there’s a huge difference between having a general understanding of a company’s products and having undergone official training and certification. Just as Fortinet offers an Authorized Training program, so too do many cybersecurity and IT service providers. So, be sure to ask about the credentials of the technicians who’ll be supporting your business.
If you’ve been consulting with sales staff, it’s also wise to ask for a meeting with the IT expert who’ll be your account manager and the team who’ll be supporting your business. This is the best way to confirm whether they truly are the best fit.
Do you offer proactive IT support?
The best Managed Service Providers will jump into action for you when issues arise. You’ll also enjoy peace of mind, knowing that no matter what time of the day or night you call, someone will be there to help you with your IT problem.
However, it’s important to understand that these are bare minimum offerings. As important as they are, it’s also crucial to partner with an MSP that offers proactive support. This could take the form of helping you transition smoothly from outdated legacy software, addressing potential vulnerabilities before they lead to a data breach, and keeping you in the loop about the latest IT insights for your industry.
With proactive IT support on your side, you and your employees will be better informed and more confident in your use of technology in the workplace. You’ll be the first to know about valuable industry insights, and you can look forward to enhanced productivity and a major reduction in IT downtime. You’ll also be able to access your systems securely, whether you’re in the office or working remotely.
What’s not included in your business IT support?
Most MSPs offer a flat monthly rate for seamless IT support, which is excellent news for your budget. However, before you sign any contracts, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of what’s included and what’s not included in this flat rate.
Perhaps they cover software patching, server upgrades, and network monitoring, but they don’t include hardware installation in their service. If you’re going through a growth phase and anticipate team expansion and hardware upgrades in the near future, this could be a deal-breaker or it could simply mean that you need to renegotiate the terms of your contract or perhaps even work with both an MSP and an in-house IT team.
Issues like this are only problematic if they come up unexpectedly. To reduce the risk of being taken by surprise, make sure you get complete transparency around what the MSP offers and what’s not included in their service.
What’s your IT disaster recovery plan?
Of course, any reputable Managed Service Provider will have a disaster recovery plan in place to ensure your business can recover swiftly from data leaks or breaches. However, it’s also important to check whether they have plans in place for the IT disasters that may befall them.
As demonstrated by the Kaseya ransomware attack of 2021, even the IT experts behind top MSPs aren’t 100% immune to cyber threats. An MSP that turns a blind eye to its own vulnerabilities is cause for concern because the belief that “it could never happen to us” often leads people to avoid planning for the worst. And in the digital world, failing to plan for the worst leaves you far more vulnerable to it happening.
In addition to cyber threats, your MSP should have a recovery plan in place to ensure they’re able to offer unwavering support through natural disasters and other such events. While an Australian MSP based in Melbourne won’t need to plan for tropical cyclones, they should have strategies in place for issues that could hit Melbourne, including events like earthquakes that are rare for the region but that do happen.
By asking these five simple questions, you’ll get a good idea of whether the MSP you’re considering will be a good fit for your company. If you’d like further clarification or would like to pitch these questions to us, call 1300 468 683 or use the form below to arrange a consultation with one of our friendly IT consultants.