16 Questions You Should Be Asking Your IT Services Provider
You wouldn’t return to a restaurant if you were consistently underwhelmed or skeptical about the quality of food and service. Details matter, and a lack of attention to the right ingredients can cost an establishment a customer forever.
The same should be true for your IT services provider. If they can’t consistently deliver quality service, then it’s time to consider a change. However, with IT, it’s not as straightforward as tasting a meal and interacting with waitstaff. You need to know which questions to ask to be confident your provider is delivering exactly what they promised.
Data Management Questions for Your IT Services Team
It’s essential that you know how your data is managed and stored. The next time you speak with your IT support team, ask the following questions.
1. Where is my offsite data kept?
You should be able to easily find out how much of your data is stored outside of your network. Who are their data partners? Find out if your data is stored in Microsoft Azure, on Amazon servers or even on a server in someone’s house. If it’s the last one, that’s a serious issue.
2. If I move to a new IT services provider, can I keep my data retention?
Your current IT support team should be able to tell you exactly how the process of moving your data to a new provider works. And they should be able to confirm that you won’t lose any data in that process.
How does moving data storage providers affect compliance?
Data compliance and retention policies can be complex. For instance, your compliance and framework require 7 years of compliance. What is the process of moving that data retention away from your current provider?
The answer can’t be, “You need to stay with our MSP for 7 years to meet compliance.” You should be able to move IT providers when you need to.
Most tools or services that MSPs sign their clients up for don’t have a decent export faculty. There is no generic export feature that allows you to move the data into a new system. Therefore, you must continue using your current IT support team to access your data.
The big question is: how much will that cost you? If it’s all bundled into one service and you end your contract with your MSP, are you able to keep just that data retention service? Or, do you have to keep the MSP on so that you can keep that data? Are you going to be held hostage to the MSP? Or is there a cost to transferring that data to a new system?
Ask your MSP these important questions.
If there is not a well-defined disaster recovery plan in place for your data, it could be time to switch to a new provider.
4. Can I see a report of my backups in the last 12 months?
Most people assume that their MSP is completing their backups and that everything is going well. It’s important to ask for a backup report to verify that this is actually happening.
If your MSP set up a backup system several years ago, are all your new programs and data (that weren’t there when the original backup was established) being backed up?
5. How are my Microsoft SharePoint and cloud data backed up?
Ask your MSP the following questions:
- What is Microsoft’s policy on SharePoint data?
- If someone deletes everything, how much time do I have to recover it?
- If someone deletes a file and we don’t know about it for 30 days, can I access it?
Right now, SharePoint does not have more than 30 days of backup for deleted files. Ask your MSP what they are doing to ensure that necessary files are restored.
6. When was the last time we attempted to restore files or databases?
If you haven’t restored a backup in 2 years, you don’t know if it will actually work. You need to test it.
7. Can I see who has access to which files in our system and on our SharePoint site?
Ask your MSP to show you how they track who has access to your data. If your MSP shifts the responsibility to you, saying you’re the one who manages the file so it’s on you to track access, that’s a red flag.
You need to be able to audit your file system permissions. You need to have controls on verifying how your system was set up and how it has changed.
Find Out How a PTO (Professional Technology Organization) Differs from an MSP (Managed Services Provider)
Company Growth and Culture Questions
Ask your current IT services provider these company culture questions to assess their potential fit as your long-term tech partner.
8. Where do you see yourself going in the next 5 years?
Are they expanding? Are they happy with their current size? Is the owner going to retire? Where are they going? Find out what direction they are heading.
9. How is your IT support team employee retention?
Knowing the average employee retention rate helps you determine the consistency of service your MSP provides. How many staff do they have? Is their staff mostly temporary or 1099 employees? Are they attracting new employees when they need them?
10. How big is your organization and how much of your business does my company represent?
Do they rely on you too much as one of their MSP clients? Can they not diversify? No one customer should be more than 10% of the MSP’s revenue.
11. What’s the majority of your client base?
Learn whether the MSP has other clients in your industry. If your organization is focused on the arts and the MSP serves mostly defense contractors, they may not be the right fit for you.
12. What compliance framework do you follow?
Whether they follow HIPAA or NIST, it’s important that they have a firm grasp of the compliance framework they need to follow. If your MSP doesn’t have an answer, that could mean legal and financial problems for you.
13. Where do you use automation?
You want your MSP to be as efficient as possible. If they aren’t automating any processes, that could be an indication of inefficiency. As a customer, ask your MSP how you can help them automate processes for you.
14. Where are your facilities?
Companies that are 100% virtual are very small and may not be the best option. They may not be able to offer you the quality service you need.
15. What is included in the price of your contract? What is out of scope?
While you may have had a firm understanding of the contract when you first signed up with your MSP, take the time now to assess what services are included and what you’ll have to pay extra for.
16. What are your onboarding and offboarding processes?
Their answer should be very clear and easy to follow. If your MSP doesn’t have a clear answer, that’s a red flag. They should have standard operating procedures for onboarding and offboarding clients. If not, they could be wasting your time and causing more problems for you down the line.
Net-Tech Has the Answers for the Level of IT Support You Deserve
As a Professional Technology Organization, we make it our business to have all the answers and systems in place to make IT a smooth experience for you. We don’t leave some of the questions unanswered like traditional MSPs do.
Since 1983, we have provided the IT services Seattle organizations need to operate efficiently and without the headache of tech problems. Unlike traditional MSP contracts, your Net-Tech IT subscription program includes all your hardware needs and the answers to all these questions – from backups to staffing and everything in between.
Our IT support program takes tech off your plate so you can focus your energy where it’s needed the most. Book a time to speak with our team today about your IT needs.