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Top 10 Questions to Ask Potential Vendors About Managed IT Services

December 5th, 2023 | 6 min. read

By Marissa Olson

Now more than ever, relying on efficient and reliable IT services is crucial for success and business growth. Many organizations are turning to managed IT services to streamline operations, enhance security, and ensure optimal performance. 

However, choosing the right managed IT services vendor can be tricky. How can you be sure you’re partnering with the best team to address your IT needs? 

Selecting a managed IT vendor is such a critical decision that requires careful consideration–and that’s why we’re here to help! 

To make an informed choice, we’ve compiled a valuable list of the top ten questions to ask potential vendors about managed IT services.

Vetting Managed IT Services Vendors: Here’s What You Should Ask

For many organizations, outsourcing your IT through managed IT services isn’t the most challenging part of this process—it’s finding the right vendor to partner with. 

Whether you’re just starting out or have been on this journey for a while now, make sure to ask these questions below to help you determine which company is best for your business, employees, and customers. 

1. “What Services Are Included in Your Managed IT Offering?”

When learning about the specific IT services provided, make sure to seek clarity on the level of customization available. For example, does the vendor offer tailored solutions that align with your specific industry and business requirements? 

Understanding the depth of their service offering can uncover enhanced efficiency and cost-effectiveness opportunities. 

Additionally, it’s also critical to inquire about any value-added services, such as regular performance reviews or strategic IT consultations, that may contribute to the long-term success of your organization.

2. “How Do You Ensure Data Security and Compliance?”

In the realm of data security, specifics matter. As you’re speaking with a potential IT vendor, make sure to ask about the encryption algorithms employed, the frequency of security audits, and whether they conduct vulnerability assessments. 

A vendor who is genuinely committed to compliance should be able to showcase not only a comprehensive understanding of regulations but also a proactive approach to adapting their services to evolving compliance standards. 

This type of diligence protects your data and establishes trust with clients and stakeholders.

3. “What is Your Approach to Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity?”

Beyond knowing the basics of their disaster recovery plan, exploring the testing frequency and scenario variety is critical. A managed IT services vendor with a robust testing regimen will more likely provide a reliable solution when it matters most. 

Furthermore, it’s wise to inquire about their communication protocols during a crisis. By doing so, you’ll have peace of mind knowing how and when you will be updated during an incident and the ability to manage the situation internally.

4. “Can You Provide References or Case Studies?”

While references and case studies are essential, it’s even better to find the time to dive deeper into the nature of these businesses' challenges. For example, ask the potential vendor what specific obstacles a particular customer faced and the IT vendor's steps to solve the issue.

Understanding the vendor's problem-solving approach and adaptability in unique situations can be crucial. Also, feel free to ask about instances where things didn't go as planned and how the vendor addressed and rectified those situations. 

Learning from both successes and challenges provides a more comprehensive understanding of their capabilities.

5. “What Is Your Approach to Scalability?”

Scalability isn't just about accommodating growth; it's also about efficiently adjusting to fluctuations in demand. 

When speaking to vendors, don’t forget to ask about specific instances where the vendor helped a client scale, both up and down, to understand their flexibility. 

Inquire about any technological or procedural bottlenecks they encountered and how they overcame them. A vendor capable of seamlessly adapting to your business's changing needs is an invaluable partner for sustained growth.

6. “How Do You Monitor and Address Performance Issues?”

One of the best ways to learn even more about a managed IT services company is by digging deeper into the vendor's monitoring tools. For example, are they using advanced analytics or artificial intelligence for predictive analysis? 

Understanding the granularity of their monitoring capabilities allows you to gauge their proactive stance. Additionally, inquire about the transparency of their reporting, such as how and when you will receive updates on system performance. 

A vendor with clear and accessible reporting mechanisms empowers your team to stay informed and make data-driven decisions.

7. “What is Your Service Level Agreement (SLA)?”

The SLA is not just a document; it's a commitment to your organization's success. We can’t stress this enough: make sure to discuss the process for reviewing and updating the SLA as your business evolves. 

When talking about your SLA, be sure to Inquire about any penalties for service lapses and how they ensure accountability. A dynamic and adaptable SLA is a sign that a vendor is committed to fostering a long-term partnership and willing to evolve with your business and its changing needs.

Related Article: Managed IT Services and Your Service Level Agreement (SLA).

8. “How Do You Stay Current with Technological Advances and Business Trends?”

Beyond simply investing in ongoing education or certification classes, explore how the vendor incorporates emerging technologies into their service offerings. Do they actively seek out and experiment with new tools and methodologies? 

A vendor with a forward-looking approach can bring innovative solutions to the table, potentially providing your business with a competitive edge. 

Additionally, make sure to learn about their partnerships with technology providers, as these collaborations can indicate a commitment to leveraging the latest and most reliable tools.

9. “What is Your Pricing Structure?”

Understanding the pricing structure is not just about the cost but also value. Ask about any volume discounts, contract flexibility, and potential cost savings through optimization. 

Additionally, explore the scalability of their pricing model, such as how costs will adjust as your business grows or experiences fluctuations in demand. 

A managed IT services vendor with a transparent and adaptable pricing structure ensures that your investment aligns with the value you receive.

10. “How Do You Handle Security Incidents and Data Breaches?”

While discussing their incident response plan, inquire about the post-incident analysis. How do they learn from security incidents to fortify your defenses proactively? 

Also, it’s imperative to explore any cybersecurity training programs provided to their staff. A vendor that continually refines its approach to security incidents minimizes risks and demonstrates a commitment to ongoing improvement and the highest standards of service.

Managed IT Services: Finding a Provider and Your Next Steps

Selecting a managed IT services vendor is a strategic decision that requires a holistic understanding of their capabilities and commitment to your organization's success. 

By understanding and asking these top ten questions in detail, you ensure a reliable match for your current needs and lay the foundation for a long-term partnership that can adapt and thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of technology and business. 

Remember, the right managed IT services provider is not just a vendor; they are an extension of your team, dedicated to your business's growth, security, and success.

If you’re looking for the next best step in this process, here is a great article to help you on your journey of finding the right provider for your office technology needs: How to Find The Best Managed IT Services Company Near Me.

Marissa Olson

A true southerner from Atlanta, Georgia, Marissa has always had a strong passion for writing and storytelling. She moved out west in 2018 where she became an expert on all things business technology-related as the Content Producer at AIS. Coupled with her knowledge of SEO best practices, she's been integral in catapulting AIS to the digital forefront of the industry. In her free time, she enjoys sipping wine and hanging out with her rescue-dog, WIllow. Basically, she loves wine and dogs, but not whiny dogs.