When evaluating and comparing Managed Service Providers (MSP), many want to look at the options and lay them out in an apples-to-apples comparison. Something worth noting; there are over 7,500 varieties of apples.
To help decode some common areas of importance, we have a few tips and questions you can ask during the exploratory stage of your search.
Comparing Managed Service Provider Pricing Models
Many pricing models exist in the world of MSPs – some are “all-inclusive,” some are partially inclusive, and some let you cherry-pick services (if you don’t mind another fruit reference). The level of support varies in these models, and it is vital to pay close attention to the details. The baseline of MSP technology supports the service model. This is one of the first places you will want to dive in.
Here are a few areas to ask probing questions of your potential provider to ensure you make the most cost-effective decision.
*24/7 Support: This is one central area where differences can be tricky to nail down. Does this include fully staffed 24/7 support or on-call 24/7 support?
*Support team: The team on the frontline of service is a significant part of your organization’s experience. You’ll want to inquire if this team is employed by the MSP or outsourced, especially when it comes to off-hours support. How is the support team structured to ensure fast and consistent positive experiences? What methods for feedback are in place and what is done with that feedback?
*Billable after 5:00 pm: Some providers only support clients from 9am-5pm under their contract, and anything outside of that becomes billable, tacking on costs to your monthly bill.
*Escalation: It’s essential to understand if frontline support will be adequate to resolve all potential issues. Sometimes, matters need to be escalated to a more skilled or specialized team. If this is important to your team, confirm if it is included under an MSP’s contract to avoid increased costs to your monthly bill.
*Exclusions: A section that explicitly calls out exclusions can be helpful and give you a deeper understanding of the price your organization will pay. You should look for specific examples in this section.
Comparing Technical Areas of Offering
Depending on your needs, the provider could be responsible for many, or all, of your major technical systems. Covering all of your systems could be extensive.
Here are some technical areas and details to check out during the vetting process.
*Security: Understand what products will be used and how security will be supported in your environment.
*Backup solutions: Ensure the support agreement calls out managing, maintaining, and testing your backup solution in the environment.
*Applications: Confirm the most critical applications are supported and possibly outlined in the agreement, preferably with details about the provider’s experience.
Comparing Customer Service Levels
Not only should you keep an eye out for places where you might accrue extra charges, but you should understand the level of service the provider is promising. Metrics provided around the speed of response and resolution are important. Including average response and resolution time metrics in the agreement provides indicators of what expectations to bring to a relationship. The agreement should also include the provider’s promised response and resolution timeline. Estimated timelines should also be provided. Understanding these timelines allows you and your team align expectations.
MSPs should be measuring their current client satisfaction in multiple ways and sharing those results. Another measure of service is having a dedicated Client Account Manager. Your organization’s client advocate should have a manageable client load and will be a liaison to your IT services teams. This person will learn your business, support the partnership as the proactive technology copilot and elevate the service experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions while vetting MSPs. This decision will impact your organization’s day-to-day operations, profitability, efficiency and happiness of your employees.
If you want assistance with price comparison, contact us today!