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Evaluate Your Managed Services Provider Before and After Signing the Dotted Line

How to evaluate an MSP before and after signing the contract.

Are you in the process of looking for a Managed Services Provider, but don’t know how to make your decision? Before signing a contract, take a few steps back to look at how your potential MSP would fit into your business. If you’ve already signed a contract and are unhappy with your choice, let’s look at factors that determine if it is time to break your contract.  

Managed Services are not a set it and forget it type of service. You want to be evaluating your provider before signing the dotted line and afterwards to ensure you are receiving the services you pay for.    

What Questions Do You Need to Ask?

We already have a list of 12 key questions to use when evaluating a potential Managed Services Provider, but we understand each business has different needs. Some of these needs are more specific than others.  

When evaluating an MSP, there are a few specific considerations to ensure your MSP is the right fit for your company. 

Question 1: Does your organization have a large number of Mac computers?

Many MSPs are built around Windows as it is the preferred professional platform. However, organizations that have design and specialty divisions are typically running Macs. If this sounds like your business structure, make sure your MSP can cover and service them.  

Question 2: What technologies does your MSP need to support?

If you have any specialty applications that are central to your business structure, you’ll want to make sure any potential MSPs are able to work with them. These highly specialized MSPs may come at a higher price, or more general MSPs may charge extra for time with a highly specialized engineer who works on this application for you. For instance, many healthcare offices run Compulink and will need a provider who can service and manage it.  

Question 3: What can you live with in terms of response time from an MSP?

Response time can be a big cost differentiator. If you need a live body to answer the phone immediately every single time, you’ll find yourself paying much higher prices. Most MSPs have a ticketing system in place where you send an email with an issue and they have SLAs on how long it takes them to respond. 

Question 4: What type of afterhours support do you need?

If you are looking for 24/7/365 end-user support (fully outsourced IT), you are going to be paying a much higher rate than if you are looking for only 24/7/365 systems support (co-managed IT).  

The difference is that MSPs who are only covering support systems are responsible for consistently monitoring and performing administrative tasks on these systems to ensure they’re running properly. If any systems go down, their engineers will be alerted immediately and jump in to ensure it’s fixed. 

However, this group of processes and tasks takes significantly less time than fielding frequent calls for password resets or similar end-user issues, which is why fully outsourced IT plans tend to cost significantly more depending on how many users you have.  

What Plans Do MSPs Offer?

Each Managed Services Provider is different. That means each MSP offers different plans and packages. Before you make a decision take the time to carefully research the different plans your potential MSPs offer and decide which provider and plan best aligns with your business’s needs. Unsure of what the different plans include? Contact the provider’s sales team to make an informed decision.  

Let’s take a look at the plans PEI offers so you can see what different offerings look like:

Fully Outsourced Plans

Fully Outsourced Plans are a good fit for businesses who need help managing end users. Whether you don’t have an internal IT team or your IT team could use some help, a fully outsourced plan gives you access to your MSP’s help desk engineers to assist with any help desk questions.

Although these plans are typically priced per-user, they often times include administration and management for your infrastructure, network, and security practices. PEI offers three fully outsourced plans that become more security conscious and proactivity focused the higher they go.

Co-Managed Plans

Co-Managed Plans are similar to Fully Outsourced Plans in that they include administration and management for your infrastructure, network, and security practices. What sets these plans apart is that they don’t include any support for end users, which cuts down on costs and makes Co-Managed Plans a good option to pair with an internal IT team.

Application Management Plans

This plan is a good fit for businesses who have an internal team to manage day-to-day IT operations, but could use some assistance with one or more advanced or specialty pieces of their IT environment. These could be your VoIP System, your network, your cloud infrastructure, or a device management application like Intune. Working with an MSP means you have access to expert engineers who can help you get the most out of these specialty apps or services.

What To Do If You Picked the Wrong Provider

The process of evaluating your Managed Services Provider is continuous. You want to make sure you are getting the services you pay for. If you went through your checklist and vetted each MSP, you can usually be assured you selected the right provider for your company.

But, what happens if you’re already in a partnership with an MSP and you aren’t sure if they are the right one for you? How do you know if it’s time to leave? Here are a few things to look for when determining if it’s time to call it quits with your current MSP:

  1. Service Breakdown: If the services your MSP provides are no longer (or never were) satisfactory for your business, then it’s time to move on.
  2. Communication Breakdown: If you feel like the communication between you and your MSP is lacking, that could be a sign that they aren’t the right provider for you.
  3. Lack of Cybersecurity and Backup Plans: If your MSP has not discussed an internal plan of security as well as their own security practices, it’s time to find another provider.
  4. You’ve Outgrown Them: Sometimes your MSP just isn’t ready to scale with your organization. If you’re growing too big and your MSP can’t catch up, it’s time to look for a new provider.

If these issues plague you, it’s time to break your contract and move on to a provider who will have your company’s best interest in mind. When deciding how to break your contract, start by looking at the original document and see if your MSP is holding up their end of the deal.

Remember, Evaluate Every Step of the Way

From the start to the end of working with a Managed Services Provider you always want to be evaluating. At first, you are ensuring a provider meets the needs of your business and will provide substantial benefit to your company. Careful evaluation on the front end will reduce the risk of breaking contracts and moving on later.

After you’ve signed the dotted line, make sure your Managed Services Provider is holding up their end of the contract and meeting your needs. If not, it may be time to break-up and move on.


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