So you’ve decided managed services might make sense for you and your team. You’ve started talking to a few companies, but you’re worried you might make the wrong choice. For every great IT company, there are 10 others doing a mediocre job and giving the rest of us a bad name. I want you to avoid feeling like your trapped with a company you don’t trust. It is always better to ask questions before the contract is signed!
Here are 6 questions you need to be asking about managed services if you want to make a decision you won’t later regret:
1. Do you have a formal onboarding process? What does that look like?
A great managed services provider will have a formal, systematized process for onboarding new clients and should be able to explain two things to you:
– An outline of everything involved and your role in it
– A timeline for how long onboarding will take
If they avoid your question or give you generic information, dig deeper. If you still can’t get a straight answer it may be time to look elsewhere.
2. Can I adjust which plan I’m on after a few months if I feel my original choice is not a good fit?
Most managed services companies will require you to sign at least a 12-month contract for services to protect their investment in onboarding your properly and providing the necessary resources to get started successfully. However, some of them will require no only that you remain a client, but that you remain on the same plan for the entire contract year – even if you decide a few months in that you’d like to upgrade or downgrade your service.
Look for a company that is flexible with its core service offerings so that if you sign up for the basic package and want to upgrade later, they won’t charge you a large change fee. Look for someone who understands business needs and priorities change.
3. Do you track client satisfaction?
This is something that not a lot of managed services providers track in any formal way, but the best in class companies do. They should be able to give you accurate and current statistics on average customer satisfaction. Anything below 90% is a red flag. If they are more focused on technology than the clients that are using it, walk away.
4. How do I contact you when I need help and what is your average response time?
This can often be a source of contention once a new client is onboarded because of assumptions that take place during the sales process. The client assumes they’ll be able to call or email 24/7 for support and get an immediate response, while the company providing their service only offers support via their client portal and only guarantees a response within 24 hours.
Clarify upfront what the method for contacting your new support team will be and what average response rates you can expect.
5. Are projects covered in the monthly fee? If not, what is the process of getting a quote and scheduling the work?
This is another assumption that can come back to haunt you. Many clients assume or hope that project work is included in the monthly fees for managed services.
At the end of the day, it has to be a win-win situation and providing project services for free guarantees two things will happen:
– your service provider will be losing money and unable to sustain their business
– you won’t get the high level of service required to make your project successful — finished on time and on budget.
Get information on how project services work and if you have any pressing needs, address them before you sign an annual contract to come up with a plan that works for both of you.
6. Do you keep formal documentation for your clients? How and when could I access that information?
This isn’t something that is top of mind for every client, but many of the companies we work with rely on our team to keep accurate and updated documentation of their network. This includes network diagrams, passwords, warranty expiration dates, etc.
Ask what their process/frequency around documentation is. Also, ask how and when you will be able to access that information. You want to find a company that is transparent and willing to provide you information when you need it without making it a big deal.
At the end of the day, you want to feel confident in whoever is in charge of making sure your technology tools work. Curious to see what a true managed services process looks like? Check out our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Managed Services. It will walk you through the four essential building blocks of successful IT management that will leave you feeling confident and in control.
Hope this helps! More soon…