7 questions to ask when evaluating a Managed Services Provider (MSP) in 2024

7 questions to ask when evaluating Managed IT Services in 2024

In this digital age, where IT plays a pivotal role in business success, we believe SMBs need managed IT services that comprehensively cover every aspect of IT, from proactive support to digital strategy to cyber security. IT forms the foundation of today’s business. Misalignment with organisational goals can lead to reduced reliability and productivity, increased costs, unnecessary complexity impacting scalability, and cyber risk.

Traditional IT support models have focused on keeping IT systems running and providing support where needed. However, the role of managed IT services has evolved to meet the more complex needs of today’s organisations. A 2024 KPMG report found that the top concerns for Australian business leaders were cyber security, talent, regulatory compliance, digital transformation and cost control. A modern managed IT services provider should address these key areas.

It can be difficult to truly understand the quality of service delivery and value provided by a managed IT services provider, here are seven top questions to ask when choosing an MSP.

1. How do they align IT strategies with your business goals?

Your IT and business strategies should not operate in isolation. An MSP should understand your company’s strategic goals and design an IT strategy and roadmap to support growth. A good MSP will provide you with access to a technology strategist who will take the time to understand your business and identify areas for improvement. They should work to ensure your technology is more than a support function and becomes a driver of business growth. Beyond implementing technology, your MSP should also enable your team to use it and provide training and guides to support technology adoption.

Your strategist should also understand that IT does not stay static and will incorporate regular reviews and planning sessions to ensure initiatives align with business goals and keep you informed on opportunities for improvement. 

2. Do they understand your business?

Too many organisations work with MSPs that do not understand their IT infrastructure or business operations. This might be a result of inadequate documentation or an inability to work closely as a partner with the business. An MSP should invest time in working closely with and developing a deep understanding of your business. They should engage with your business processes, understand industry-specific challenges, and tailor services accordingly.

The MSP should collaborate with your internal teams to understand their needs and create solutions to address any obstacles they often encounter. In essence, they should be invested in actually understanding your business and tailoring their approach to suit.

3. How do they manage cyber risk?

Today’s MSPs must embed cyber security into their service; it should not be an add on or an afterthought. Malicious or criminal attacks accounted for 67% of breaches reported to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) between July and December 2023, with human error taking up 30% of notifications. 

Your MSP should provide comprehensive cyber security services, incorporating best practices and standards like as the ACSC’s Essential Eight, continuous detection and response, cyber awareness training and regular cyber risk assessments. Your MSP should help your business manage cyber risk, meet compliance requirements relevant to your industry and comply with cyber insurance.

Continuous detection and response is a critical component of these services, monitoring your estate to identify potential threats and respond to and contain confirmed threats. Your MSP should monitor and detect threats 24×7 through a Security Operations Centre (SoC) and have a defined plan for handling incidents. 

Cyber security awareness training should be among your MSP’s services. An informed and vigilant workforce can be one of the best defences against cyber attacks. In addition to implementing technical measures, an MSP should also focus on educating your employees about cyber security best practices, including simulated phishing attacks and regular training sessions with information on the latest threats and how to respond to suspicious behaviour.

Sources of data breaches – July to December 2023

Source: OAIC.

4. How do they maintain transparency?

Any successful business relationship has a foundation of transparency. An MSP that maintains transparency not only demonstrates that they are meeting their commitments but also enables the organisation to make informed decisions.

When choosing an MSP, enquire about their reporting and management practices, such as whether they provide detailed and regular reports on the health and performance of your IT systems. Reports should deliver clear insights into your IT environment and cover areas such as billing, risk assessments, and areas for improvement. Your MSP might also provide insights into their performance, such as CSAT, user feedback or SLA attainment. This gives you a clear picture of whether they deliver on their promises.

Reporting should include insights and recommendations for improvement. Your MSP might cover inefficiencies, potential risks, and opportunities for optimisation. With this information, you can gain a clear picture of your IT landscape and make informed decisions about future change.

5. How will the MSP work with your IT team?

A co-managed IT arrangement might suit your business if you have an existing IT team or personnel. Co-managed IT services offer additional support and expertise to your team’s capabilities. If you want to take this approach, consider how the MSP will integrate into your existing team. Understand their approach to collaboration and communication to ensure that both teams can work together with minimal issues.

The MSP should be able to complement your existing team by filling skill gaps and providing additional resources as needed. Clear communication and open collaboration help both teams work towards the same goals and maintain a unified approach to IT management​​.

6. What is your approach to proactive monitoring and management?

It is critical for your MSP to provide proactive monitoring and support, including regular maintenance and updates. They should be able to demonstrate how they detect and address issues before they become problems.

Proactive support also involves ongoing maintenance and optimising IT systems. An MSP can help you avoid downtime and maintain high productivity levels by addressing potential issues before they escalate. They will proactively patch and improve your IT infrastructure before issues arise. Your MSP must have a cadence for completing regular updates, patch management and a range of proactive actions to ensure your systems run properly. 

7. Do they have standard operating procedures?

IT documentation supports consistent and efficient service delivery. Your MSP should document your standard operating environment (SOE), system configurations, and user policies that support daily operations and new staff onboarding. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) support change management protocols and align with industry best practices to guarantee reliable service delivery. 

Comprehensive IT documentation reduces repetitive queries and enables proficient handling of all service delivery aspects. SOPs indicate an MSP’s maturity and commitment to best practices and consistent service delivery. Sharing these procedures with clients enhances transparency and provides a clear understanding of the processes in place.

Conclusion

Selecting the right MSP involves more than a simple like-for-like comparison; it requires a thorough evaluation of their ability to align with your business goals, dedication to understanding your business, and a proactive approach to security and compliance. Asking these seven questions helps you make an informed decision to choose an MSP dedicated to driving business success.

RODIN delivers comprehensive managed IT services

Our Secured Managed IT Services integrate cyber security and strategic enablement tailored to your business objectives. We design our IT services to meet your company’s unique demands, providing rapid, reliable support when you need it most.
By choosing RODIN, you gain a strategic service provider committed to aligning technology with your business goals to drive growth and operational excellence. Visit our Secured Managed IT Services page for more on the RODIN difference.

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