Choosing the Right MSP: 14 Essential Questions Every SMB Should Ask

88% of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are currently working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or plan to work with one. When SMBs are selecting an MSP for the first time or looking to switch providers, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure the selected partner aligns with their needs and goals.  

14 key questions SMBs should ask during the MSP selection process:

1. What services do you offer?

MSPs typically provide essential services, including network and infrastructure management, device management, cybersecurity, data backup, and cloud services. Additionally, they may offer specialized services such as IT consulting, compliance management, and industry-specific solutions to benefit your business.

Learn more: MSPs vs. internal IT departments: 9 key considerations

2. How do you handle data security and compliance?

Ask about their cybersecurity measures, including firewalls, managed detection and response (MDR), vulnerability management, penetration testing, encryption, and monitoring. Ensure the organization is SOC 2-certified and that their team includes certified security professionals who can support your compliance requirements.

3. What is your response time for routine and critical issues?

Review their service level agreements (SLAs) to understand their guaranteed response and resolution times. Confirm their support hours and whether they offer 24/7 support. 

4. What is your geographic coverage?

Some situations require prompt on-site service, while others can be handled remotely. Inquire about their geographic service coverage and how it aligns with your needs. 

5. Who will be handling my account and what are their qualifications?

Typically, your primary contact will be a dedicated account manager or Virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO), supported by a team that may include network engineers, cybersecurity experts, and support technicians. Ask about their professional background, including relevant certifications such as CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Ensure they have access to ongoing training and experience in servicing businesses of a similar size and complexity as yours.

6. How do you ensure data backup and disaster recovery?

Ask about their backup procedures, update frequency, and storage locations. Understand their disaster recovery strategy planning processes and how quickly they can restore your systems in case of an outage or breach.

7. What is your experience in our industry?

An MSP with experience in your industry will better understand your specific challenges, compliance, and regulatory requirements. Request case studies or references from similar businesses.

8. How do you handle onboarding and transitions?

Ask about their onboarding process and how they will transition your services to their management. Ensure they have a plan to minimize downtime during the transition.

9. What is your approach to proactive monitoring and maintenance?

Inquire about the tools and methods they use for monitoring your systems. Understand their approach to preventative maintenance to avoid potential issues.

10. How do you communicate with clients?

Ask about their preferred communication channels and how they handle updates and reports. Ensure they offer regular review meetings to discuss performance, any upcoming changes or needs, and make technology planning recommendations.

11. What is your pricing structure?

Seek clarity on their pricing model, whether it’s flat-rate, per-user, or based on the number of devices. Ask about any additional costs that might not be included in the standard contract.

12. How do you handle scalability as our business grows?

Ensure they can scale their services to accommodate your business growth. Ask about the ease of adding or removing services as your needs change.

13. Can you provide a demonstration or trial period?

Request a demonstration of their services and tools. See if they offer a trial period to test their services before committing long-term.

14. What is your track record and reputation?

Ask about their client retention rate and why clients choose to stay with them. Look for reviews and testimonials from other businesses. 

Choosing the right MSP is a critical decision for any SMB. By asking these questions, you can better assess which provider is best suited to meet your business needs and ensure a successful, long-term partnership.  

Contact TechMD for a free consultation and discover how our award-winning team can bring cost-effective enterprise-level productivity, scalability, and cybersecurity readiness to your business.  


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