Business Requirements Checklist for Your Next IT Managed Service Provider Partner?

Amidst the myriad IT outsourcing services, each with its distinct offerings, how can businesses identify the right IT Managed Service Provider partner? While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, this article will guide you through the key considerations, providing practical examples tailored to your business and industry.

What Should Businesses Look for an IT-Managed Services Provider Partner

When selecting a new IT provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) partner, you must consider many key factors to ensure they meet your business needs. Here are some essential aspects and services to look for:

    1. What are the challenges you have with your current provider?

      Make a list of issues you currently have with your IT service provider. Use this list as the beginning of your new MSP partner checklist. Will your next MSP nickel and dime you? Do they, for example, charge extra for an annual IT Strategy? Do they charge extra for Vendor Relations? Are they able to provide a yearly IT Budget? What do they charge for this service? What is the “onsite” surcharge? What is the cost of standard services such as Office 365?

    2. Location is vital.

      Many service providers work remotely 100% of the time and do not have people to call on when they need someone on-site. Determine what a safe distance is for the level of support you need. In case the Internet is down, or your provider otherwise cannot get to you remotely, what does it cost you to be down? These costs need to be calculated in advance so this “cost” can be included in the service provider’s cost matrix. If you would like help creating a cost matrix, shoot me a message, and I will supply an example template.

      Your location and especially if you have multiple locations, you must understand how they will support your locations and the cost of those locations should they go down.

    3. Size and Industry Expertise:

      The size and industry expertise of your IT Managed Service Provider partner are crucial. They need to have experience with your size of business AND in your industry. This may not seem to you to be incredibly important, but in my view, it is still the top 3 on the list of requirements. Understanding the industry, legal requirements, and compliance requirements are not always obvious or easy to track down, and a partner with the right expertise can make all the difference.

      Look for an MSP with a proven track record of success and expertise in your industry or business category. From your initial interactions with them, do they demonstrate a deep understanding of your industry’s requirements? Are they able to provide insightful tips specific to your business category? Can they speak knowledgeably about your business from the outset? And most importantly, can they provide concrete examples of businesses in your industry or category that they have successfully assisted?

    4. Business Savvy, Technology Smart or Both?

      Most IT Support companies hire technologists (Technicians or Engineers). Technologists almost never have business expertise. This means they provide you with a technician who does not understand business (let alone your business). This means they do not understand how this solution will impact the business when they offer a solution. Is it the best solution for the business? Is it just the simplest solution for IT to implement? Is it the most profitable solution for the IT provider? You must demand a business-savvy expert/Project Manager and Architect be made available to you as needed.

    5. Technical Leadership and Responsibility

      Taking this concept of business savvy further, it is equally important that the provider be able to provide executive coaching. This executive coaching usually includes a Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) and Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO). These business and technology smart people can guide you to better business and technology solutions and will generally save you thousands of dollars by having their expertise. For compliance, most companies must list someone on Insurance forms with the skills and certifications to perform in these roles. The people in these roles are often “required” to sign off on compliance reports and become legally responsible for making the right decisions for your business.

      NOTICE: We are through the top 5 requirements, and we have not talked tech yet. The reality is the tech is easy. Most do a good job, some do a great job, and very few do a superb job. If you get these first 5 requirements, you are well on your way to success. However, do not stop here because there must be checks and balances to:

      • Make sure you are not paying too much and have a defined annual budget.
      • Make sure you do not get stuck with a provider that cannot service all your needs now and in the future.
      • Make sure the skills they bring to the table are ever-increasing.
    6. Expertise, Coaching and Track Record

      What experience do they have serving customers with the technology requirements you need? If you explain your concerns to them do they understand? Do they have a “coaching mindset”? That is, are they coaching you as they are doing their initial complementary discovery? If not, it is likely they will not be coaching you later either. You need a provider that can “enable” you to manage whatever parts of the business and technology you want to manage. If they are holding information close to the vest from the beginning, this is a clear indicator that they would rather send you giant bills than help your business in the way you need the help. Do they have referenceable accounts? Have they worked with companies for years or even decades? Longevity is a clear sign that the provider either “locked customers in” or “coached customers to success.” It is incumbent on you to figure out which. This is usually not difficult. They likely care about you and your business if they have a coaching mindset.

    7. Security and Compliance: Ensure your new IT

      Managed Services Provider (MSP) can provide Security services, including cybersecurity measures. Verify that the MSP adheres to industry standards and regulations and can help you maintain compliance. Do you already have a Written Information Security Plan (WISP)? Do you already have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)? Are you compliant with regulations for your industry? Do you have a data classification strategy? Are all your users required to use MFA? This is an area that most businesses overlook, but it is vitally important. Does the MSP know about HIPPA, PCI, NIST, CSF, CMMC, or other requirements you may need? Is the MSP able to coach you on what you need in your business?

    8. Tools, Techniques, and Automation:

      Does the provider regularly invest in the latest tools? Do their company policies incentivize employees to invest in their own knowledge and career? Do they offer Monitoring with Proactive Support?

      Does the provider prefer solving a problem with a script rather than doing the same thing repeatedly and charging you each time? Do they talk about system management in terms of monitoring or automated remediation? Most IT providers prefer to monitor systems and then send you a big bill if you want something fixed. A better approach is to go with a company that constantly invests in scripts and automation to resolve problems so they can run a script in a few minutes when something goes wrong instead of spending a few hours each time something breaks.

      Does the IT Service Provider hire people who:

      • Write Books / Blog posts on technology and best practices – Best
      • Read about how to do things when they find a problem – Not good
      • Don’t care, try to do the job with the least effort – Not acceptable
    9. Critical Services…
      • Network-Specific Services: Ensure they offer services tailored to your network requirements. Including Network Management, Monitoring, and Remediation
      • Scalability and Flexibility: The MSP should be able to scale services up or down based on your business growth and changing needs.
      • Helpdesk & Response Time: Inquire about their average response time for resolving IT-related problems. What is their service level agreement? Will they be in touch with you in 2 days, 2 hours or 20 minutes? The level of support they can give you will impact your ability to conduct business. It also has a very big impact on employee satisfaction. It is common for businesses to have different programs that offer different service level agreements or response times. However, you should insure the MSP can provide you the level of service you need now and in the distant future because you do not want to have to change again anytime soon.
      • Regular Reporting: Opt for an MSP that provides detailed reports on the work they perform, including security patches and backup management.
      • Certifications: Check if the MSP holds relevant industry certifications, which can be a testament to their quality and reliability. Do they have certifications and partnerships with the companies for the products you use? Microsoft is the big one as most businesses will work with Microsoft for many of their needs.
      • Cloud Services and Infrastructure Management: Do they have Azure or other cloud service certifications? Can they adequately support you on your journey to the cloud?
      • Data Classification, Segmentation, and Auditing: Understanding your data, data security, and data classification can protect you from lawsuits, improve your business processes, ensure governance compliance, and provide coaching on how you can use this insight.
      • Data backup and recovery: Do you know your current backup strategy? Can the IT Managed Service Provider help you create a strategy? Your IT Managed Service Provider should be able to present to you a strategy that would allow you to recover any vital file you need for as long as your business model requires. As an example, if you are audited,
      • Artificial Intelligence (AI): You may not yet know how your business can benefit from AI. Your IT Managed Service Provider should be able to educate you on this new and vital technology. They should help you understand how you can leverage AI to save time, improve employee satisfaction, improve customer satisfaction, increase sales revenue, profit, and any other aspect of your business that could benefit from intelligence.

      These services are crucial for maintaining the smooth operation of your IT infrastructure and ensuring business continuity. Remember to consider the MSP’s communication, customer service, employee attitude, and ability to understand and align with your business goals.

The jIT IT Managed Services Provider Difference.

If you are looking for a new IT Managed Service Provider, I encourage you to evaluate each provider against this checklist. Ask them the hard questions presented here. Scrutinize them as heavily as possible to make sure you make the right decision. I would be remiss if I did not also ask you to schedule an initial consultation with me, Dan Stolts 508-947-1478, to see how we stack up against other providers you are considering. Learn why we prefer to start all customers with an IT Strategy, a Written Information Security Program, and a 24×7 Helpdesk engagement.

Your Opinion Matters!

Help us improve our service by rating us. Your feedback is invaluable to us.

Technology Serving Everyone

Contact our sales team and schedule a presentation.

Hi!👋 Would you like to rate your experience?

Your approval matters!

Thank you

We received your message, and a sales team member will be contacting you shortly


Thanks for your feedback.