Zeroing in on Your Managed Services Vendor Selection Criteria

How to choose a managed services provider (MSP) isn’t as straightforward as many business owners assume. There is a common belief that the best MSPs are the biggest, most experienced, or most budget-worthy options.

The issue with this assumption is that many organizations wind up with IT salespeople who deliver subpar services. Many vendors are more interested in making money off of you than they are in helping you, which won’t do much for your business.

Instead, you need to pinpoint your specific criteria. This will help you narrow down the best questions to ask an IT MSP to ensure you’re getting a real partner.

This is especially important if you work in California. We’re right next to Silicon Valley which means IT companies are everywhere. You need to know how to spot the good ones (by the way, those aren’t necessarily the biggest ones).

This article will examine what you can do to ensure you find the ideal managed service partner. We’ll look at why a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the answer, and what you can do instead.

“Managed IT services should be about services, not about overselling needless solutions.” – Brian Lynch, Chief Executive Officer, Bakersfield Networks


Why Your Managed Services Selection Criteria Can’t be One-Size-Fits-All

There are a lot of articles out there discussing how to choose a managed services provider. Many will point out similar factors such as their response time, testimonials, relevancy, and many others. While these factors are important, you shouldn’t use them alone to pinpoint your partner.

Before you dive in, take a moment to consider your business’ specific IT needs. Don’t just think about your industry standards, think specifically about your needs. Of course, these two criteria will inevitably cross-over. The point is that you need to drill into precisely what you need, not just what everyone else is doing.

MSP Qualifying Questions to Narrow Down Your Options

You can’t possibly book a discovery call with every MSP on the internet. After all, the MSP industry was worth $834.7b in 2023. That’s a lot of companies, so your first step is to narrow down who’s worth reaching out to.

Look For Specialized Services

The MSP you choose should have comprehensive IT services that address many parts of your IT environment. They at least should have:

  • IT consulting to help you make informed decisions about future projects.
  • An IT helpdesk to help you resolve simple issues quickly.
  • Network support to keep your IT network running.
  • Cloud services to ensure your infrastructure stays in tip-top shape.
  • Thorough cybersecurity measures to keep your data safe.

Alongside all that, you should also favor providers that offer additional unique services that fit your business needs. For example, if you work for a school district you may want to prioritize MSPs that offer web filtering services.

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Consider Testimonials From Your Area

Choosing a local MSP has many conveniences. It’s easier to get a hold of them and you can leverage onsite support. However, the biggest advantage is that they’ll understand the business landscape of your region. This will help them offer strategic IT solutions that truly lead to business results.

So, not only should you look for testimonials, you should look for testimonials from your region. For instance, even if you’re not located in California, you may still opt for a California-based MSP if they can show you that they’re equipped to handle your region’s business environment.

Keep Security Front of Mind

Given California’s tech prominence, your cybersecurity posture needs to be top-notch. Tech hubs tend to be bigger cyber attack targets, even if you’re a smaller player in the area. While you should always prioritize cybersecurity,  it’s extra important if you’re a California business.

Look at the security services your potential MSP offers. Favor those who emphasize network monitoring, disaster recovery, and proactive defense. These MSPs are typically much more able to keep you safe in a bustling tech hub with ever-evolving cybersecurity threats.

Consider Their Adaptability

Favor MSPs who focus on staying up-to-date with technology trends. Even if you decide not to use trending solutions, having this tech expertise in your back pocket will help you maintain your competitive advantage.

You should also look for MSPs who openly consider themselves adaptable. They may say that they offer custom solutions or focus on their client’s needs. This shows that they can easily pivot to IT changes as technology or your business evolves.


Questions to Ask During MSP Discovery Calls

Once you’ve narrowed down your candidates, it’s time to book a discovery call. During this call, your top priority should be to ask as many detailed questions as possible. Here are some good questions to ask and what you should look for in your candidate’s answer.

Question to Ask What to Listen For When They Answer
How do you handle unexpected IT crises or emergencies? A structured emergency response plan, detailing their response time, escalation process, and communication protocols with clients during crises.
How do you measure and report on the performance and health of our IT systems? Regular performance metrics, health check reports, and tools they use to monitor and evaluate system performance.
How do you ensure the privacy and security of our data, especially with the stringent regulations in California? Familiarity with CCPA regulations, tools and protocols in place for data encryption, and regular compliance checks.
Can you describe your onboarding process for new clients? A systematic and efficient onboarding process that includes an initial IT infrastructure assessment.
How do you handle scalability as a business grows and evolves? A clear strategy for scaling services up or down based on business needs. They should discuss flexible plans, tools, and resources to accommodate growth.
What’s your approach to data backup and disaster recovery? Comprehensive backup strategies, frequency of backups, off-site storage solutions, and a clear disaster recovery plan.


Choose a California MSP Offering a True Business Partnership

With this guide in mind, it’s time for you to start zeroing in on an MSP that truly meets your business needs. The bottom line is that you should always favor proactive support and strategic alignment with your business goals. All of your criteria should somehow fit into that concept.

Bakersfield Networks strives to be that partner for SMBs across the Bakersfield, California region. We’re focused on tailored solutions and a high-touch approach to IT services. That means that our goal is to support you as you leverage technology to enhance your business. We have no interest in pushing unnecessary IT services if it doesn’t truly help.

Contact us today to book a demo and learn more.