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Straight to the (Out) Source: 5 Questions to Ask a Potential Managed IT Partner


Considering a Managed IT agreement? Go straight to the partner you're looking to outsource to and ask them these five questions. These inquiries will reveal both their capabilities and what your expectations should be moving forward.

We are a nation of outsourcers. From groceries to household chores to business game plans, we hesitate little in handing it over to someone who specializes in x, y, or z.

A simple online search will reveal that someone can typically do it more efficiently than you. Of course, I’m particular about groceries, and wouldn’t trust a stranger to pick out my avocados or fresh greens. Internal marketing teams are similarly protective of the creative content they produce.

As a CIO or small business owner, you likely feel the same way about your network. And rightfully so. Anyone that will be expected to maintain, optimize and secure your network infrastructure should certainly be vetted.

There are a variety of reasons that businesses need help from third-party IT firms. IT skill and expense often top the list for smaller businesses. Larger businesses often work with IT providers to offload a number of time-consuming tasks, allowing their internal IT staff to focus on mission-critical activities.

Considering a Managed IT agreement? Go straight to the partner you're looking to outsource to and ask them these five questions. These inquiries will reveal both their capabilities and what your expectations should be moving forward.

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5 Questions to Ask a Potential Managed IT Partner

1. What are the SLA details?

It’s obviously crucial to know what you’re getting when you pay a service provider that monthly fee... and what you’re NOT. A MNS agreement, at its core, SHOULD include:

  • virus, spyware and malware protection,
  • patch management,
  • 24X7X365 proactive monitoring,
  • and regularly service delivery reports.

But what's considered extra? What are the agreed-upon response times for general support requests? Emergencies? Downtime is expensive – leave no doubts on when you should expect support from your partner.

2. How big is your organization... AKA how well do you align with our business and growth needs?

It sounds good on paper right now. But what is the outlook two, five years down the road?
With the freedom to focus on your forte, your SMB will hopefully thrive and your needs will evolve along with your growth. Needs will change. Issues will arise. Is your IT partner nimble? Capable? Responsive?

How many resources are being employed to your organization? Does your MNS provider demonstrate technical expertise designed to address unique and future needs of your company?

A few examples of IT-based projects:

  • Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Hosted Microsoft Exchange
  • Cloud Services
  • Virtualization
  • Mobile Deployment
  • Document Management

3. How will you hold yourself accountable?

Technical expertise and robust solutions are certainly enticing. But it’s results you’re after, right?

What kind of a service analytics exists to measure their service performance? Is there definite transparency with this data in building a partnership relationship? As mentioned above, how often is the provider willing to sit down and discuss the partnership, review current performance and strategize for a future game plan?

4. So, What’s the (Business Continuity) Plan?

Your organization faces potential disaster each day it operates – through natural disaster or malicious cyberattack. Business Continuity Plan is absolutely essential. 

What you do now to prepare determines your own survival rate, as well as the successful retention of your clients. From keeping customers in the loop to enabling optimal IT uptime to identifying key employees involved in the recovery process, does your potential IT Partner have a game plan? Ask for the details ahead of time.

5. What can you do for MY employees?

The weakest link to any network security plan is often the end user.

What – if any – web based or onsite training is available for your employees to ensure they’re not making your organization vulnerable to malware or Ransomware attacks? Additionally, will specified members of you team have access to monthly or quarterly partnership reviews to address current IT performance and voice concerns or new strategies moving forward?

The communication between your team and their’s should be seamless, frequent and ultimately beneficial to you.

Frustrated by current IT challenges? Seriously considering  outsourcing to free up your team and get back to running your business? Consider Datamax.  Leveraging a multi-faceted enterprise technology assessment system known as Datamax Discovery™, Datamax can provide exhaustive view of your existing security landscape, improve overall technology management, and enhance your technology infrastructure investment.  Interested, get started with your assessment today!



Topics: Network Management Network Security