Researchers predict 80% of organizations will migrate to the cloud by 2025. If your business is operating using servers or networks, where can you start to find the right partner? It’s easy. Ask before you buy.

As a business owner, I’m always looking for good business partners. Recently I explained to someone that I like to sit in the back of the audience and listen. I want to hear tips and tricks from clever business leaders. I don’t want to be sold; I want to be educated to develop trust before I buy. That’s the best approach to find a managed services provider.

Ask, listen, learn before you buy

Regardless of business size and scope, cloud-based computing offers many benefits. And those benefits are why so many company leaders are looking at how to shift to either cloud-computing with in house staff or partnering with a managed-IT services provider to do it for them. Cloud computing reduces risk and cost while increasing access to data from any device at any time. Sounds like a win, right?

It can be when the right partnership comes together. Keep in mind, not all managed services providers are the same. Whether a company hires staff or partners with a managed services provider, it is important to find the right professionals because you’re giving someone the keys to keeping the data and systems in your business safe and secure.

Ask a lot of questions before you sign on the dotted line. Here are 10 questions our team often hears. Use them as your guide.

  1. What’s the managed services company specialty?

There are dozens of managed IT services companies in Indianapolis. Services vary in size, scope and expertise. Are you looking for network testing and monitoring or data storage? Do you want cybersecurity experts or networking? Understand what you need to find a company that aligns with requirements. The provider’s technical strengths should be a good match for your needs. Also ask about compliance frameworks. For example, we work with CPAs and medical providers who require special consideration related to tax and health documentation.

  1. What hardware is involved?

We recently heard from a prospect that their managed services provider proposed a $30,000 capital expenditure for servers. The business staffs about 15 people. That capital expense would have taken years to pay off and sat on the balance sheet. Before signing, know and understand if capital expenditures are required. A good expense, for example, would be updated computer or phone systems.

  1. What’s the price and what’s included?

Ask what’s included in the monthly fees. If you don’t understand the lingo, ask again for lay terms. Typical all-in fees should include software patching, network monitoring, upgrades, hardware installation and support tickets. Ask what might be missing that your business would require.

  1. What’s the support process?

When interviewing providers, this is a critical question. Someone should be able to tell you not only the process, but how long it will take to hear from one of their representatives. When computers fail, it’s downtime for your business. Understand what’s involved to fix problems efficiently.

  1. What is the recovery plan if technology falls apart?

A computer glitch will happen. Managed services professionals should be able to explain how they will get your team back up and running. Cloud-based services companies typically take a backup from a few hours prior to that glitch to restore data within the same business same day. In other cases, a partner may have to send someone to your business to fix the problem.

  1. Is the company knowledgeable about the latest cybersecurity procedures?

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. In 2020, some 155.8 million computer users were affected by a hack of some sort. Finding and partnering with a managed services provider that offers education and information to a business and its team is critical to keeping data safe. The managed services partner and your team should both know how to keep data safe using cutting edge best practices.

  1. How much data and information can a company see and access?

Cloud-based managed services allow the client to set up user hierarchies. That’s a fancy term for deciding who can see what data is in your system. While an MSP is tasked with keeping data safe and technology running smoothly, a business owner doesn’t need to share all of their confidential information and should have control over access.

  1. What’s the size and scale of client a company has as its partners?

Some MSPs work with Fortune 100 companies. Others, like our company, partner with small and mid-sized businesses. Ask about specialty verticals and range of skills. Also find out how quickly an MSP can scale your business up or down. If your business onboards new staff frequently, be sure the provider can support that growth.

  1. Can I talk to clients who are successful and those who may have struggled with the transition?

Referrals always are a good way to find out if a prospective MSP partner lives up to their word. It’s always great to talk to a happy customer. Talking to a customer who had some bumps in the relationship will reveal if a company does what they say they’re going to do to fix a problem and create a long-term relationship.

  1. What happens if the selected technology doesn’t work for our business?

Business relationships don’t always work. That should always be ok. A contract should have an out clause and provisions should be explained in advance in case a business needs to move to another provider.

Aaron Toops is co-founder and CEO of AERIFY.oi, managed services IT business that makes technology simple, safe, and fast. The team leverages the Cloud to allow small to mid-business teams affordable access to their information from whatever device at whatever time they need.