Questions you must ask your potential managed IT vendor

When an organization partners with a managed IT service, it receives support for e-management, network, system, and application services. Also, the company enjoys a lot more free time, which it utilizes to focus on core business activities. Needless to say, the selection procedure to find the right managed IT services providers cannot be taken lightly. As you’re traversing the path of choosing a suitable managed IT vendor, several conversations will take place with possible providers.

Don’t settle for the first service that comes your way. Instead, wait for a vendor who you feel is trustworthy. Ask pertinent questions to glean as many details as you possibly can and then make an informed decision. Check out a list of relevant questions below:

1. How can your managed IT service help us compete better in the industry?

managed IT vendor
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The first and most integral question, this is perfect for gauging whether the vendor can make your organization more flexible and efficient. The potential provider should ensure more wins and make the company nimbler by adapting rapidly to new market trends and being able to leverage advanced technology.

Test their knowledge of machine learning and automation, and question their policy of orchestration and remediation. Plus, don’t forget to look at their version of a product roadmap for the next few years. It also helps if they can offer proof that they will support you while you are competing at the highest levels.

2. What level of security can you expect from the IT services provider?

Check if the potential managed IT services provider follows recognized safety and security measures. Also, ensure they have relevant controls in place. Otherwise, there is no way to determine if their infrastructure is protected and the patching is up to date.

For instance, providers that seek to meet the public sector parameters must be tested and audited regularly by independent external auditors. This way, it is ensured that they adhere to the best safety practices and are capable of handling any security issues that may crop up.

3. What am I getting into?

Well, not exactly those words…but you get the gist! You should not have to wait until you have an SLA sitting on your desk to determine if the managed IT vendor you chose was what you thought it was. You need to ask direct, pointed questions that shine a light on the relationship you can establish with the provider.

For example, you can begin by asking about the onboarding process followed by the company. The truth is, working with a new managed services provider isn’t something you can rush. But at least, you get a fair idea of what to expect in the first month, or two months, or even three months of the relationship.

Ask them how they hire their IT professionals. Once you know more about their process of recruiting IT talent, you will get to know the company a bit better. A protracted, more involved hiring method means that the service leaves no stone unturned to find the best personnel to attend to the needs of their clients. You could even express interest in the specialties of the company.

A reliable managed IT service provider will possess only specialized knowledge of a few industries to better understand their needs and help them avoid pitfalls.

Ask them when and if you may have to pay an additional sum. While money questions aren’t the most appetizing, you still have to ask them. Normally, if you pick the standard package, the managed IT service charges monthly for its services. But if you require consulting, hardware, and other add-ons, it might cost your company extra. Though you probably won’t cost your company as much as Justin Hammer cost his company in that ridiculous “Iron Man II” movie or what Dylan cost his business in the brilliant “Transformers 3.”

Knowing about all the fees in advance helps you be better prepared. Make it a point to ask upfront about the services and products that cost you extra.

4. What kind of services will I receive?

managed IT vendor

Establishing rapport with a managed IT vendor has a transformative effect on your processes, making them more effective and helping them reach a higher plateau. But there are some businesses that find out that the services they signed up for are not what they expected. But by then it’s too late. To prevent something like that from happening to you, make sure you have an idea about what to expect.

Ask the provider if you will be given your own service team or service person. If yes, you can turn to them when you experience any kind of difficulties, like downtime, or have any questions regarding the IT infrastructure. Find out what sort of services they outsource.

Most managed IT vendors outsource a part of their services and knowing about it will help you stay prepared in case of any problem. Find out how long it usually takes them to sort out an issue and the kind of repercussions to expect in case some third-party puts your clients at risk.

The managed IT vendor should clearly mention their response time. If they play coy or avoid answering the question, then something’s not right. Ideally, the vendor should outright state the guaranteed service time. Customization features should also be mentioned. In this case, customization involves timing (Robin Hood had some excellent timing when he shot that young kid down from hanging on that rope!). So, you need to know whether you have control over things such as when patching happens or if the managed provider controls every aspect.

5. What sort of responsibilities will you handle?

To know whether the relationship between your potential managed IT vendor and your business will work out, you must know who manages what to avoid any misunderstandings. It helps to know where exactly the responsibility falls.

Question the provider about the frequency with which your IT infrastructure will be reviewed and the findings shared. It is never a perspicacious idea to assume that you will receive a monthly or quarterly review. Check when reports and reviews are due from the provider. Plus, ask about the responsibilities assigned by the provider. A straightforward question will help you avoid any confusion and know how responsibility works in the arrangement.

The right managed IT vendor: A lot at stake

Choosing a managed IT vendor is not rocket science. But neither is it like selecting a random vendor for your company. There is a lot at stake here, but if you ask the right questions and are satisfied with the answers, you will know you can trust and align your company’s IT infrastructure with that service.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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