Written by: Daniel Haurey on 07/26/22

As IT environments become increasingly more complex, managing critical systems, processes and vendors can be challenging for your business.

With advancements in technology being deployed daily, outsourcing your IT to a managed service provider (MSP) can help bring clarity to day-to-day technology management.

The proof is in the data:

  • 28% of data breaches directly affected small businesses (Verizon, 2021)
  • 94% of businesses use the cloud for their daily operations (Flexera, 2022)
  • Data and cyber security spending saw a 17.5% increase from 2020 to 2021 (Gartner, 2021)
  • Downtime is costing businesses in certain industries up to $22,000 per minute (DUE.com, 2022)
  • The managed services market is expected to be valued at $535.7 billion by 2032 (FactMR, 2022)
  • 39% of small-to-medium-sized businesses rely on managed services in some capacity (Sherweb, 2020)

While an MSP offers many conveniences through outsourcing, it is vital to ensure you choose one that represents the best possible fit and prioritizes long-term growth, innovation, and success for your business.

But the question is, is there a managed services selection criteria in place to ensure that an MSP is a good fit for your organization? Our informative guide will help you determine how to choose a managed services provider by asking the right questions beforehand.

Interested in learning more about managed services? Check out these blogs:

6 MSP Qualifying Questions to Ask Before Choosing One

Prior to selecting a managed services provider for your business, here are six important questions to ask during the MSP discovery process:

1. Can They Function Within a Multi-Vendor Environment?

Today’s information technology landscape is one where change is constant. Traditional elements, including software, hardware, networking equipment, and cloud computing are constantly on the move.

Before choosing an MSP for your business, it’s important to determine if the provider has a proven track record of success working within a multi-vendor hybrid environment.

Additionally, the MSP should be able to leverage their existing vendor and IT channel partnerships to provide insight into product evolution and the latest emerging technologies.

2. Do They Specialize in Cyber Security Services?

Virtually all MSPs offer an array of specialized services, but for some of them, cyber security is not among them. Others may offer cybersecurity services, but only perimeter or surface-level protection. This is a major issue, given the constant evolution of the threat landscape.

Malicious actors and the attack vectors they rely on are becoming increasingly complex, and an MSP that is ill-equipped to handle them can do more harm than good for your business.

Research from CyberCatch shows that 75% of small businesses are forced to close due to ransomware attacks. This is due in part to working with MSPs that do not offer specialized managed security services.

On the contrary, you may find that some providers offer managed security service provider (MSSP) equivalent services that deliver enterprise-level cyber protection with a small business focus.

That’s why knowing how to choose managed security services is an important aspect of knowing how to choose a managed services provider. A good MSP can help you close gaps in your protection while providing proactive incident response and sensitive data protection that improves your overall security posture.

3. Do Their Services Align With Your Industry Needs?

For the most part, MSPs are industry agnostic and can serve businesses that operate in a wide variety of industries. However, there are some that specialize in IT services for certain industries. Examples include:

One of the most important questions to ask an MSP is about their industry specializations, which can help you determine if their services would be a suitable match for your business.

As a complement to their specialized managed services, some MSPs also provide regulatory compliance services. Designed for highly-regulated industries, these services are provided by industry experts who can help your business achieve or maintain compliance.

Common compliance methodologies include performing an in-depth system analysis and various assessments that can help you prepare for compliance audits and reviews.

Examples of key compliance standards that some MSPs specialize in include:

  • NIST
  • CMMC
  • SHIELD Act

4. Does the MSP Have Favorable Referrals and Reviews?

Another of the most significant managed services vendor selection criteria is determining if the MSP has a proven track record of success.

You want to ensure that you’re working with a partner who consistently receives good reviews through their dedication to effective problem solving and customer service.

There are a number of elements to review before making your final decision, including:

  • Their annual retention rate
  • The size of their client base
  • References, referrals and reviews
  • Their Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • Their current level of partnership with Microsoft – Exigent is a Gold Partner

Insufficient information or proof in any of these areas could result in unreliable services, unresolved IT issues, or increased costs. That’s why doing your due diligence is a must before selecting a provider whose services are a good fit for your business and industry.

5. How Flexible are Their Managed Services?

As your business grows, its technology needs will also change. Understanding whether or not a provider can seamlessly scale their services as necessary is one of the most critical managed services selection criteria, and should be among your MSP qualifying questions.

Another area where flexibility comes into play is in the service packages the MSP offers.

Some providers offer rigidly-structured packages that feature the same services for every client. Others allow you to create a customized package that features only the services you need. This is known as the a la carte model.

Some of the services that could be included in a customized package include:

  • Managed IT services
  • IT support services
  • Helpdesk services
  • Network support
  • Cyber security
  • IT outsourcing
  • vCIO services
  • IT consulting
  • Co-managed IT
  • Staff augmentation
  • Backup and disaster recovery (BDR)
  • VoIP

While flexibility is a key element of how to choose a managed services provider, it’s important to understand that scaling your services up or down can cause your pricing to change. For example, the more users or connected devices on your network, the more the provider will charge.

6. Does the MSP Rely On a Forward-Thinking Approach?

Before selecting a managed services provider, another of your qualifier questions should be to determine whether or not they have a forward-thinking approach.

A good MSP provides consistent day-to-day support with an eye towards future technological developments. They constantly have their finger on the pulse of the industry to provide recommendations on the latest emerging technologies for your organization, and advice on upgrades and implementation.

Through their IT consulting, vCIO services and vendor partnerships, MSPs can help you procure and deploy new solutions based on your needs, sometimes even at reduced rates.

The Key Takeaways for Managed Services Selection Criteria

The perfect MSP offers a wide range of managed services that easily scale alongside your company as it grows to foster success.

To ensure a good fit for your organizational needs and objectives, you should focus on choosing an MSP that offers beneficial services, including cyber security, cloud services, IT and helpdesk support, and network support, just to name a few.

A good provider also leaves the lines of communication open, should you ever need to discuss your needs and the services that can address them.

In addition, your MSP should also observe industry trends to recommend and implement solutions that increase productivity while generating value for your business.

The questions mentioned in this article are just some of the questions to ask an IT MSP. You may also have additional questions based on the unique needs of your business or industry, which you can ask during your initial discussion with the provider.

Ask the Right MSP Qualifying Questions Before Choosing a Partner

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Still Wondering How to Choose a Managed Services Provider? Get All the Answers With Exigent

As an industry-leading managed services provider (MSP), Exigent Technologies offers a complete suite of services designed for New York, New Jersey, Denver and California businesses that are driven by excellence.

Backed by more than 25 years in the industry and our 97.12% customer service rating, we offer the managed services you need today to ensure a better tomorrow for your business.

For more information about how we can help you achieve success through technology, contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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