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Looking for a Managed Services Provider (MSP)?  

Here are Three Critical Factors to Consider 

Choosing the right Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a big decision. That first step can determine the long-term success of the partnership. It’s critical to ask the right questions in order to choose the right partner. Not having clear answers to those questions could lead to missed opportunities and serious issues down the road. 

If you’re an IT leader looking to partner with an MSP, we’ve put together a series of questions to help you ask the right questions. Answers to these questions will also give you more confidence in knowing whether or not they’re a good fit for you. There are three primary areas to consider when choosing an MSP. These are expectations, services and transitioning/onboarding. We’ll cover each one in detail.

Setting Expectations

When expectations are clear, it ensures that both the client and the MSP know the primary objective of the partnership aligning them to work toward a common goal. This helps the client measure the value they receive from the MSP and hold the MSP accountable for their services. Clear expectations reduce misunderstandings, delineate responsibilities and ensure the financial aspects are transparent and predictable.  

In addition, clear expectations provide an understanding of what ongoing support will look like after onboarding and outlines a clear exit strategy for either the MSP or client, if they are dissatisfied or if circumstances change.  

Some key questions on expectations you should ask include: 

  • How do you go about setting clear expectations?  
  • How do you outline who is responsible for what?  
  • How will deliverables be measured against expectations? 

Defining Services

Clearly defining services helps the client understand exactly what they are paying for and the level of service they can expect. This also helps prevent scope creep, which is when the MSP is asked to perform tasks that fall outside of the initial agreement with unexpected expenses. The client often experiences this as being “nickle-and-dimed”. 

Clear definition ensures services are well-defined and measurable. It also improves resource planning by knowing exactly which services are being provided. 

For the client, well-defined services helps them know which risks they are responsible for and which ones the MSP will mitigate. Clear definition also enables continuous improvement of the client’s environment as the MSP and client can review the Managed Services Agreement to identify areas for improvement or enhancement.   

Finally, clearly defining services ensures the client knows when they can expect support and how issues will be prioritized. For example, WIN prioritizes incidents by using a 2-factor system that asks “what is the impact of this incident and what is its urgency?” Once the impact and urgency of the incident is determined, the ticket is prioritized and is resolved at the appropriate time.  

Some key questions to ask about services include: 

  • Do you clearly define the services you will provide and how they’ll be delivered? 
  • How will incidents get prioritized and escalated? 
  • How do they communicate maintenance and security updates?  
  • Will you make on-site visits?   

Outlining the Onboarding Process

Outlining the onboarding process helps ensure that all necessary tasks are completed in the right order. This reduces the chance of errors, disruptions or delays. It also streamlines the transition to improving efficiency, identifies challenges, mitigates issues before they happen, and prevents unexpected resource constraints by utilizing advanced resource planning.   

In addition, a well-defined onboarding process establishes a clear timeline with milestones to track progress and keep everyone on schedule. 

Here are a few important questions to ask regarding the onboarding process: 

  • Do you have a clear transition-to-support process?  
  • What’s your timeline for taking over services? 
  • Will you provide us with quarterly business reviews?  
  • Do you have a process to manage change in our environment?   

Have questions or want to learn more? 

Clear expectations, services and a well-defined onboarding process are just a few considerations when choosing a Managed Services Provider. If you’d like to learn more, visit our Managed IT Services page, read our blog Navigating the Maze of Managed IT Services or get in touch with us.