Questions to Ask Before Partnering with a Co-managed IT Provider
Are you on the hunt for a co-managed IT partner? Are you wondering how to discover if they’re a great company before signing a contract?
If you are, this article is for you.
You should have every tool necessary to find the best co-managed IT provider. So Intelligent Technical Solutions (ITS), a managed services provider (MSP) with 20+ years of experience facilitating co-managed IT partnerships, has listed the top questions to ask before partnering with a co-managed IT provider.
We sorted each question into three categories:
Each question is designed to get you information that matters. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid foundation for vetting a co-managed IT provider and an easier time finding the right IT partner.
First, you need to establish the trustworthiness and experience of the potential partner. Here are questions you can use to do this:
1. What are your company’s qualifications?
This question is the first step in building trust and getting a quick look into the company. Often, co-managed IT partners will share the following when promoting their capabilities:
- Company size,
- Technician certificates,
- Previous experience,
- Years in business, and
More established companies will have more qualifications, but smaller companies may provide more personalized services. Whether you choose a larger or smaller MSP, understanding their qualifications is a must-have when choosing a co-managed IT partner.
2. Do you have client stories and reviews for your co-managed IT services?
Co-managed IT companies provide better services when they have hands-on experience. A great business will have a list of satisfied clients that they’ll happily refer to you.
Get this list, ask the clients about their experience, and closely examine another organization's experience with the provider.
3. What are your company’s values?
Check a company’s values to see if they are compatible with yours. You don’t want to butt heads with people; seeing the kind of culture they have is a good starting point for evaluating your possible partnership.
4. Are there any reasons we shouldn’t hire your business?
Most companies only focus on why you should choose them. Ask this question to see if they will be honest about possible faults. There’s nothing worse than false expectations, and if the MSP you’re talking to can answer this question honestly, that’s a good sign for honesty in future transactions.
After establishing trust in the company, it’s time to ask questions about their co-managed IT service:
5. What other services do you provide?
Most MSPs offering co-managed IT services also provide other services such as managed IT, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), cybersecurity, and compliance. You can review what they provide, and an excellent co-managed IT provider will walk you through these services and explain exactly what you need.
6. What are the benefits of co-managing IT with you?
Many companies provide co-managed IT, but you need to ask about the specific benefits of co-managed IT with their business. What do they provide that other companies don’t? Do they have a satisfaction guarantee? A unique company system? Years and years of experience?
Their answers will inevitably help with your final choice of partner.
7. What specific services do I really need?
Co-managed IT is all about supporting your in-house team to uplift your entire organization’s IT infrastructure. When answering this question, sketchy companies will try to upsell you with everything and anything. But a great co-managed IT provider will ask about your team and where you’re genuinely struggling and work on a plan with you based on those needs.
8. How do you balance communication and delineation of tasks with in-house IT partners?
One of the biggest challenges with co-managed IT is coordinating with in-house personnel. Sometimes, in-house staff feel they’re being replaced, or there’s a breakdown in communication between the team and the third-party provider.
A provider’s answer to this question will reveal their chances of successfully co-managing your IT. Companies with transparent systems and the right teamwork mindset will likely provide better service.
9. How do you measure and report your performance?
Meaningful service reports are essential for determining the value you get out of a co-managed IT partnership. Information from these reports will help you evaluate the services they provide and whether they’re willing or able to provide statistics for your in-house IT team. A company with clear reporting guidelines has a much higher chance of taking accountability for its services.
10. How do you handle IT emergencies and incidents?
Most companies get co-managed IT to help manage high-level security incidents. Even if you’re looking for someone to manage the day-to-day responsibilities, having a partner well-versed in cybersecurity is a boon. Critical insights into their ticket response time, resolution rate, and specific plans to prevent and mitigate IT risks and threats can help you evaluate a company.
11. How will you support our IT infrastructure, applications, and team?
To succeed, your business needs to stay up and running 24/7. You can’t afford lengthy downtimes or delays. When evaluating a co-managed IT provider, find out how they plan to juggle your IT network and in-house team with their systems.
Also, check their availability during business hours, late at night, on the weekends, and on holidays. If they aren’t available when you need them, look elsewhere.
12. How do you help us with IT strategy and planning?
Your business isn’t standing still, and neither are your technology needs. A co-managed IT provider should anticipate future needs. Discuss where your business is headed in any conversation with IT services providers and discover how forward-thinking they are.
13. Do you provide onsite services?
If you prefer to see people face to face, you need to know if the potential partner will provide onsite IT services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not all providers have this service.
14. How long are onboarding and offboarding?
Onboarding and offboarding might take more time than you think. Onboarding usually takes a few months, while offboarding takes a month or so. Asking about this should help you manage your schedule.
Once you know you can trust a company, you can now ask questions about the cost of their services. Most businesses have a pricing page, but asking more questions about costs is essential before you sign up with an MSP.
Some important questions to go over are:
15. How much does your co-managed IT plan cost?
Knowing how much you need to pay will help you estimate if the company fits you. If they’re too expensive, at least you know you need to find someone cheaper. Most businesses will direct you to the pricing page, so it’s worth checking that out and preparing company-specific questions about price before contacting the MSP.
16. How much is your onboarding fee?
Most IT providers have an onboarding fee separate from the services they charge you for. You need to know how much this will cost you, especially since the onboarding fee depends on your company’s IT infrastructure. Make sure you know your IT basics: how many workstations and servers you have, what your IT goals are, your in-house IT staff capabilities, and the status of your cybersecurity.
17. Why are you charging those kinds of prices?
If a provider cannot justify why they’re charging their prices, that’s a big red flag, and it’s a sign of transparency issues. Of course, they’re not likely to give you an entire breakdown of their company’s account and their exact profit margins, but they should be able to explain the factors that go into the co-managed IT pricing.
18. Are there any other fees connected to this service?
It’s good to check everything you might pay for. Asking your MSP to lay out all the prices is part of building trust; this way, if they suddenly spring up other expenses at you, you know price surprises are something you’ll encounter again. Then, you’ll need to make a judgment call if they’re the kind of business you want to interact with.
19. Will we save money with your services? How?
Most businesses will automatically answer, “Yes, co-managed IT saves you money. " Trust the companies that give good reasons why you’ll save money. Confidence in the value of their services is a sign of a good MSP.
Ready to Make Your Co-Managed IT Vetting Process Smoother?
Choosing the right co-managed IT provider can make or break your business, and you need to find the best one for you. Hopefully, this list of questions will help you do that. At ITS, we’ve noticed that clients want to be entirely at ease with us before committing to our service. That’s why we urge you to take a look at our Co-Managed IT page or personally ask us these questions by scheduling a meeting with us.
But if you want to take a look at more options and continue the provider selection process, we have the following resources to help you with your search:
- How to Choose the Right Co-managed IT Provider (5 Easy Steps)
- Co-Managed IT: A Complete Guide For Businesses
- What Businesses Should Look for in an MSP Proposal
- How to Review a Statement of Work (SOW) from an MSP (5 Easy Steps)