6 Must-Know Tips for Evaluating Managed Service Providers

Deciding to outsource your IT to a managed service provider (MSP) can bring predictability, security, and reliability of your technology. However, finding a partner that’s right for your business isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

When interviewing MSPs, keep these six often-overlooked tips in mind.

1. References – Request the Right List.

When evaluating a potential managed service provider, it is common practice to request a list of references. However, all references are not created equal. Be specific in your reference requirements.

Always ask for three references that mirror the size and scope of your organization and services. For example, if your company has 75 to 100 people, needs cloud hosting, and does not have an onsite IT staff, the references you receive should have similar distinctions.

Also, ask that one of the references include a client that no longer works with the provider, as this can unlock potential pain points or circumstances you should consider.

If an MSP cannot tailor their reference list to your requirements, chances are they don’t have enough experience, and you may be in for a bumpy ride.

2. Organizational Chart – Know the Team. Managed Services Team at Detroit IT

Always request an organizational chart. It’s a great way to make sure you aren’t working with a one-person team and to guarantee that service levels will not suffer if a member of the staff is out of the office. Each potential managed service provider should have the following personnel to support your business:

  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO) – Strategic executive that helps you reach your business goals and drive value through technology.
  • System Administrator – Technician that manages your network operations center (NOC) and ensures your infrastructure is functional and secure.
  • Primary Engineer/Service Technician – Hands-on expert that manages operational services like diagnostics, installation, repairs, and customer support.
  • Backup Engineer/Service Technician – Qualified support, should the primary engineer or service technician need assistance or backup.

Along with an organization chart, ask how long each team member has been with the organization. Pay attention to signals of high turnover, which can leave you with an inexperienced staff that needs ongoing training and retraining.

3. Certifications & Partnerships – Prove it!

An ideal MSP team should hold multiple, up-to-date certifications and have strong partnerships with leading vendors, system providers, and technology companies. Certifications are still relevant today and help validate skill claims based on standard assessments, education requirements, and reviews that prove subject-matter competency. The technicians that are handling your IT infrastructure should have CompTIA, Microsoft, Cisco, and ITIL certifications. You should also ask about their continuing education program for their staff.

Lastly, your potential MSP should have long-standing and strong relationships with partners like Microsoft, Citrix, HP, Symantec, Cisco, and others, that will benefit your budget, product quality, and service levels. The world of technology is constantly evolving and so must your MSP.

4. Insurance – Get the Policy.

Surprisingly, many clients don’t ask for proof of insurance from potential MSPs. The MSP you decide to work with should have a general liability policy and errors & omissions (E&O) insurance with a minimum coverage of $2 million. If your MSP provides hosting services, they should also carry cyber-liability insurance to protect against security breaches or data loss. If the MSP has limited insurance coverage, they likely are a small MSP that is not equipped to work with mid-sized businesses.

5. Office – Visit their Office. front door logo

While it may require an extra step, always visit the provider’s office to meet the entire team. During the sales process, you typically interface with one or two people, who are actually not the people you’ll work with on day-to-day technical issues. Swing by your provider’s office unannounced to see what it’s really like. How is the office? How many technicians are there? Is the office organized? A quick visit will tell you a lot about the operations, organization, dynamics, and staff that you wouldn’t otherwise see.

6. Trust – Ask This Crucial Question!

Why are you a managed service provider?

Always ask potential MSPs this question, as their answer will help you determine the answer to numerous other questions, like:

  • Can you trust them or are they trying to make a quick sale?
  • Do they care about your business, people, and technology?
  • Are they in the business for the right reasons?
  • Do they live and breath IT?
  • How long have they been in the industry?

Intent, motivation, and passion can be difficult to gauge during the interview stage, but it is one of the most important things to figure out. With managed services expected to reach $193 billion by 2019, many entrepreneurs are entering the market looking to turn a quick dollar. If the CEO or CIO has or is running multiple businesses, dig below the surface to understand if their motivations are sincere.


With over 20 years experience, Detroit IT knows first hand how important it is to find a managed service provider that you can trust with the experience that’s right for your business and the training, structure, relationships, and safeguards required to help you exceed all of your IT goals.

At Detroit IT, we’ve been providing managed services and computer and network support to Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan since 1997. We have the best people working with the right processes to deliver the best business IT solutions to our clients.

Interested in learning more about how our managed services can help your company? Email us at support@detroitit.com or call us at 248.530.1001.

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