Vetting a Managed Services Provider can be confusing in a sea of providers that seem to offer everything you need to make your IT environment hum. How do you know if you’re asking the right questions, which ones are the most critical to your business and what insights are helpful in having a meaningful conversation?

Take a look at 5 must-ask questions that will give you a true sense of what you need from your provider.

1. How Quickly and Effectively Will the Provider Respond to an Issue?

With 24/7/365 monitoring, any issues your environment encounters should be discovered immediately and addressed simultaneously with a response plan that’s already in place. Responding with lightning speed during a cyberattack dramatically decreases the level of negative outcomes. You know how difficult it is to keep your day moving when you’re stuck on a computer glitch. Getting help shouldn’t shutdown your whole day. You should expect a technician to respond in under five minutes during extended business hours to assist you in resolving the issue. Your productive day is salvaged. And peace of mind restored.

2. Are Tailored Services Offered to Meet Your Business Needs?

One size certainly doesn’t fit all when it comes to Managed IT Services. When you have access to tailored services and expertise from a highly certified team of IT professionals, your dedicated IT Manager will work hand-in-hand with you to develop solutions that address specific challenges of your business. Taking the “hard right” over the “easy wrong.” As you evaluate Managed Service Providers, it’s important to understand the true value of the services offered. Are they shoehorning solutions into client environments because it’s an easy fix, or do they take the time to understand the idiosyncrasies of your business and impending challenges you face in order to provide you with the correct solutions? Certainly, a box you want to check when evaluating MSP providers.

3. Transparency: Are Challenges Explained Enabling You to Make Informed Decisions About Your Business?

Most small businesses owners and managers are uncomfortable managing IT, whether they are in-house or a vendor. This is often complicated because IT professionals aren’t well-versed in transparency when it comes to managing risks. A good MSP will demonstrate transparency in explaining challenges in business terms, enabling the owner to make informed decisions, freeing up time to focus on business growth strategy. As we have learned in dealing with a variety of client environments, so many in-house IT professionals are stretched incredibly thin when tasked with managing cybersecurity, leaving businesses vulnerable to other issues such as internal operations, helpdesk, updates and more. Managed IT Services alleviates those issues, leaving time for traditional areas of focus that keeps the business moving forward.

4. Risk Management & Compliance: What Industries Are Supported?

Many of our clients are in industries that must comply with stringent compliance regulations. Businesses in the financial sector, legal services, aerospace and others must be able to impede data regulation breaches, sometimes even before a security threat is discovered. Add that layer into your realm of responsibility! As trusted advisors, we help our clients in this area by ensuring that sensitive data is properly stored and protected to comply with their respective industry regulations.

5. If Disaster Strikes, What Can You Expect From a Recovery Plan?

A solid disaster recovery plan is vital to the successful remediation for businesses under attack. Good Managed IT offers disaster recovery plans that address the specifics of the attack, how it affects your business and processes to prevent the attack in the future. You’ll certainly want to see IT resources required to support time-sensitive business functions with corresponding processes. You’ll want to be sure that the recovery time for an IT resource should match the recovery time objective for the business function or process that depends on that IT source. Additionally, clients should also have access to a detailed plan on how to run the business once the attack has occurred. If preventative measures have been taken and data has been stored properly, the loss can be minimized significantly.

Looking for the next step in managing your IT environment in a way that protects your business and fosters growth? Get started with your self-assessment identifying the gaps in IT processes that are leaving you exposed to cyber threats. This tool will allow you to prioritize your risks and address the most critical ones to your business first.