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A managed IT services provider makes it possible for you to focus on running your company instead of worrying about ever-advancing technology. Over the past decade, turning to third-party companies for technological specialists has become more and more popular.

You don’t need to hire unnecessary full-time employees, create a department based entirely on the whims of technology, or learn new skills unrelated to your industry. Instead, you can turn to team of affordable and talented experts. Additionally, MSP’s usually can provide better software solutions for a fraction of the price as the costs are shared across many clients vs an in-house IT department which would bear the entire cost of software.

But how do you pick the right managed IT services provider? Here are five questions you should ask before making your selection:

How Large is Your Staff and Where Are They Located?

Imagine having a technological difficulty, calling your provider, and learning there isn’t anyone available to fix the problem. Or, you have an emergency and need someone on-site to get your business back running, only to find the support staff is working remotely from another country in a different time zone.

You don’t want to wait until you’ve lost an entire day of production and income to learn you invested in the wrong provider. Ask this question upfront as it may tie directly to their response times.

What Kind of Specialists Can You Provide?

Every business has different needs. While IT professionals are talented in many ways, none of them can know everything. At minimum, ask if the IT support staff is current with their IT certifications. Then, you need a team with experience in your industry.

Choosing a provider without the right employees can lead to wasted time, missed deadlines, and bad service. It doesn’t mean the provider is bad. It just means the provider isn’t a great fit for your company.

Outline your needs (operating systems and specialized software) and ask potential providers for specific names of employees they would choose to work on your projects and help with your technological issues. If they can’t name anyone, politely walk away.

How Long Have You Been in Business?

While you can absolutely choose a new provider if you feel comfortable, preferred providers have at least five years of experience. Finding the right employees and pairing them with small, medium, and large companies from dozens of industries can be difficult – not to mention managing projects and meeting deadlines.

According to the United States Small Business Administration, nearly half of all small businesses fail within the first five years. Choose a provider that will remain reliable for your team, rather than one that’s likely to go out of business.

What Services Are Covered in Your Contract?

Before signing an agreement, read your contract carefully and ask for a detailed outline of the services included and the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Often, low priority projects will have response level of a day, while an emergency needs a less than one-hour response time. Review the SLA’s carefully making sure it is a fit for your business. Additionally, there are often pieces of software and hardware that you, as the business owner, may need to purchase.

Some providers offer more than others. Note the differences and think carefully about where you’re willing to compromise.

What is Your Response Time?

This is perhaps the most important question you can ask a managed IT services provider. If you have an outage, your business can’t run. That means you’re paying full-time employees to stand around and do nothing. You can’t afford to wait for hours for someone to come along and fix the problem.

Choose a provider that’s well-known for impressive response times. And make sure response time guarantee is included in your contract.

Work with an IT Services Expert

At Proactive IT, we focus on comprehensive and reliable service, with a strong emphasis on response times and security. Contact our experienced team to learn more!