How to Choose the Right Managed IT Service Provider

How to Choose the Right Managed IT Service Provider - 7 Questions to Ask

A Managed IT Service Provider (or MSP) acts as a business’ internal IT team, and is responsible for managing all IT infrastructure. Managed IT Providers are rarely one size fits all, so finding the right MSP can be a worthwhile challenge. 

Going with an MSP is a good idea. In a survey of 1000 small businesses by Deloitte, it was found that 85% reported that technology aids in their success. If you have made the decision to use an Managed Service Provider or dissatisfied with your current vendor, use these seven questions to find the best MSP for your business. 

Does the MSP know your industry? 

There are about 40,000 MSP in the United States alone… so chances are that when you start your search, you will find an inexpensive general-purpose Managed Service Provider. 

General-purpose MSPs typically offer surface level solutions that cater to a broad market. In the long run, these will hurt your business more than they help as a general-purpose MSP does not have a deep understanding of your environment or how security impacts your business.

Instead, look for a MSP team that has expertise in your industry (legal, finance, nonprofits, engineering). MSPs are most effective when a long-term business relationship exists, which will only happen when you partner with a MSP that understands your industry-specific needs. Industry specific MSPs can create and implement repeatable processes geared directly towards your business’ IT and security needs.

Does the MSP understand and offer comprehensive Cybersecurity?

Some MSPs operate at the surface level of security and merely aim to ‘check the boxes’ of antivirus and firewall. Make sure you partner with someone that understands today's threat environment and offers comprehensive services to protect you. According to SonicWall, there are roughly 1000 new malware variants created every day. At a minimum, ask them these questions.

  • Does the MSP’s approach to IT solutions focus on cybersecurity first and foremost? 
  • Do they offer Endpoint Detection and Response?
  • What is their Backup and Disaster Recovery solution? How do they handle data loss?
  • Do they offer Business Continuity? If so, do they offer a reasonable Recovery Time Objective (RTO)? 

You need to know what is involved in getting you back online in the event of a cybersecurity event or hardware failure. It’s easy to recommend new applications and web solutions to win a pitch, but security should be the major determining factor when the MSP is making recommendations.

What does the Customer Support Journey look like?

The customer support journey is the experience a customer undergoes when they decide to interact with an MSP (typically through a support ticket or a phone call). The key here is determining how the MSP handles day-to-day support calls, system alerts and emergencies.

Oftentimes MSPs will casually answer this question by stating that their system monitors the computers 24/7 and alerts you immediately of a problem. Nearly all MSPs do this, so it’s important to take a deeper look. The end-user experience is what really matters here.

  • What is the remediation process when their system detects an anomaly?
  • How quickly does the MSP respond to an issue? 
  • What is the communication protocol?
  • How does the MSP confirm resolution and satisfaction after an issue is detected?

Make sure the MSP has a consistent and repeatable process for customer support requirements. MSPs that focus only on technology are tied to what technology can or can’t do—and that affects the success of their processes.

What a customer journey should look like. 

Can the MSP's solution scale and grow with my organization?

Industry changes are real-time, and you need an MSP that won’t slow your growth.

In fact, it’s important to look for an MSP that can help your growth. 

Ask potential providers what their toolset and service offering looks like. It should include some (if not all) of the following:

  • Cybersecurity - Monitoring and Remediation
  • Desktop support and Reactive Services
  • Professional Services
  • Backup and Recovery as a Service
  • Designated Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO)
  • Infrastructure management
  • Network Management
  • Cybersecurity (again…)

A great MSP will help you determine what services will work as your organization continues to scale. Your Managed Service Provide should be focused on your success.

Do you own your software or cloud services?

Is your cloud environment or Line-of-Business software in your name or the MSP? It’s important that you have full ownership of these solutions. You do not want to be held hostage by your previous provider.  

An MSP is a partner in your business, not an owner. Make sure they agree to keeping everything in your business name. Review the current SLA (service level agreement) to ensure you are not relying on the MSP provider to release ownership.

At LNS, we keep everything in your business name. We believe it is your right to own your IT infrastructure.

Does the MSP’s team stay up to date on new technologies? 

Be careful of the MSPs that are made up entirely of technicians that spend all day  handling support tickets and putting out fires. Any MSP you look at should have a system in place that allows their team to stay updated on the latest technology. At a minimum, this includes annual reviews of their management and security products. Training for their staff should be a priority.

Ask them about their commitment to reviewing and learning new solutions. 

A company that is forward thinking and focused on learning throughout its organization is committed to growth and service. 

Does the MSP have processes and procedures in place for efficient resolution?

Unfortunately, in the world of cybersecurity and managed service providers, breaches do occur from time to time. While you naturally want to partner with a company that is going to limit the frequency and severity of these breaches, it is important to also consider how a managed service provider will handle things in the event of your security system being compromised. 

Before partnering with a MSP, make sure to ask if they have processes and procedures in place for efficient resolution.

You’ll want to make sure the MSP you partner with offers has clear answers for the following questions regarding efficient resolution. 

What is their escalation procedure?

A security breach should not go unattended for very long. Some inexperienced technicians may spend too much time on a problem before asking their team or supervisors for help. The longer a problem is unsolved, the greater the risk. 

What skill levels do their technicians have? 

This ties into the escalation procedure question above. 

A MSP should have a strong mix of junior and senior technicians. When a managed service provider has too many junior technicians, there may not be a member on the team that has experience in solving extreme situations. When there are too many senior members there may be a poorly delineated split of responsibility, allowing problems to go unsolved.  

A team made up of varying experience levels creates a clear division for escalation within the team. and a clear path on how problems are escalated and resolved.

How is their communication? 

Do you, as a customer, have a clear line-of-sight on the status of your ticket and project? Are you able to know where you are at-a-glance?

Is your environment fully documented? 

A technician not familiar with your environment can spend far too much time (theirs and yours) ‘relearning’ your system so they can resolve your problem. 

A great MSP should have your system full documented and immediately accessible.

What are their onboarding procedures? 

Ask your potential MSP to show you the steps they take to get you to a steady-state for support. On average, an MSP should spend 6 weeks securing, documenting and monitoring your system.

Do they have a process for user onboarding and offboarding? 

Every customer is unique on how new and previous users are added to the system. A new user in your organization should be ready to work on their first day, while a previous user should be immediately prevented from inadvertently accessing your system.


Choosing the right MSP takes time.  

A Managed Service Provider (or MSP) acts as a business’ internal IT team, and is responsible for managing all IT infrastructure. Managed Service Providers are rarely one size fits all, so finding the right MSP can be a worthwhile challenge. 

When looking for the right MSP, consider the following seven questions:

  • Does the MSP know your industry? 
  • Does the MSP offer comprehensive security?
  • What does the Customer Support Journey look like?
  • Can the Managed Services solution scale and grow with my organization?
  •  Do you own your software or cloud services?
  • Does the MSP team stay up to date on new technologies? 
  • Does the Managed Service Provider have processes and procedures in place for efficient resolution?

A quality MSP will create a customized solution that fits your industry. Their processes and technology (and training) should work with you to achieve the best customer service possible while scaling with you as needed.

LNS Solutions has an extensive toolset and service offering that can scale to your organization, as well as over 35 years of experience. We focus not on break/fix but on proactive measures that predict problems before they happen and prevent them from impacting your organization. 

Are you ready to partner with an Managed IT Services provider that has the experience and expertise of all the items above? Give us a call at (813) 393-1626 or fill out the form below.

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