What to Ask Before Hiring Managed Services for Your Business

IT Services | December 1, 2023

No matter what industry you operate within, there’s no shortage of hackers looking to procure sensitive data. The consequences of a cyberattack can be catastrophic. In fact, the average data breach in 2022 hit a record $4.4 million.

Working with managed IT services can improve your company’s security. Not everybody understands what to ask before hiring IT services, though.

We’ve written a brief guide with key info that can get you started on the right track. Let’s explore what you should know before hiring managed services.

What Is Your Pricing Structure?

This is one of the most important questions to ask when outsourcing your business needs. Overlooking this detail could cause you to pay much more than you should.

It also provides insight into how the billing process works. Some providers charge a flat fee while others have more customizable forms of billing.

It’s not uncommon for outsourced services to tailor pricing to your specific needs. This ensures you only pay for what you use.

Are There Co-Management Options?

Co-management is a great way to reduce the money you spend on IT outsourcing. In context, it involves splitting your company’s IT management between the service provider and your internal team.

This generally creates a situation where the provider maintains a base level of service while the IT team handles projects. However, the inverse could also be true.

The IT team could handle basic obligations and the service provider could step in for larger projects. If this is something you’re interested in, avoid service providers that have an all-or-nothing model.

What Are Your Security Measures?

You can never overlook that security. As previously mentioned, there’s an abundance of hackers looking to breach your defenses. In fact, the cybercrime industry is estimated to cost the world over $10 trillion per year by the end of 2025.

Not only are data breaches expensive to handle, but they could also cause permanent damage to your reputation. Your prospective IT provider should have no issue offering insight into the security tactics they use. If they don’t seem knowledgeable on the topic, look elsewhere instead.

What’s Your Discovery Process?

It’s crucial to work with an IT provider who has a solid discovery process. This allows them to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your company’s network.

They’ll determine areas of concern so they can adjust the level of service they offer. Avoid companies that don’t seem interested in taking a closer look at your business. To clarify, you might encounter a provider who makes an offer after asking only a few questions about your company.

What Tools Do You Use?

To get the best results, you’ll need to use the right hardware and software. Fortunately, your provider will likely have access to top-tier applications and machines. This allows them to provide competitive levels of service while avoiding problems that affect outdated software and hardware.

What’s Your Service-Level Agreement?

You should never work with someone without a service level agreement. This is a contract that guarantees a certain level of uptime.

You might have seen advertisements that mentioned phrases like “99% uptime guaranteed.” In context, this means the company is contractually obligated to fulfill this promise.

To do so, they establish a robust infrastructure that can handle contingencies. If they don’t fulfill this part of the agreement, the contract will usually dictate that users can receive free service or refunds.

However, one of the most important details to consider is response time. If problems arise, it’s imperative that your service provider takes action as soon as possible.

How Is Contract Renewal Handled?

Do contracts renew on their own, or do you need to review them beforehand? How often does renewal occur?

In general, service providers have contracts that automatically renew at the end of the term. This could be anywhere from a few months to over a year.

It’s best to negotiate with your provider before renewal occurs to see if you can get a discounted rate. If you’re not happy with your current provider, you can also look elsewhere for better service before you renew your agreement.

What Are Your Credentials?

Does the company have accreditations or certifications? These aren’t imperative to look for, but they can help you decide between multiple vendors.

If they do have credentials, ensure they were provided by a reputable organization. Security certifications are particularly important to consider.

Do You Have References?

If you can’t make your decision, consider reaching out to previous clients. Reputable companies will be more than happy to provide a list of references.

This will offer further insight into what you can expect from working with them. Stay wary of businesses that deflect questions about their references. This could indicate that they don’t provide the level of service they advertise.

Benefits of Managed Service Providers

Understanding the benefits of managed service providers can help you make better decisions. Many entrepreneurs are on the fence about their choices, and these details will streamline your search. Listed below are some of the most notable.

Better IT Budgeting

You can create a more effective IT budget after hiring a service provider. Once you know the obligations they’ll handle, you’ll understand what you need to pay for.

Let’s assume that your service provider handles 95% of your IT needs. You could then create a budget that allows your internal team to pick up the slack.

Access to Experts

Having access to experts is one of the greatest benefits you’ll get. This is especially true if you work with someone who has substantial experience in the industry.

They’ll discern issues you likely would have overlooked. They can also come up with creative solutions to major problems. Keep this in mind when moving forward so you can make the best choice.

Better Security

It’s entirely possible for your organization to secure its own data. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll do so as effectively as a professional would.

Managed service providers leverage powerful contemporary security methods. This protects your information from common threats and helps you maintain continuity.

Faster Response Time

Even experienced internal IT teams can struggle to respond quickly to contingencies. More often than not, these teams are more experienced in maintaining systems than resolving problems.

A reputable service provider will have no issue assessing disasters and taking the appropriate action. Working with the right professional could dictate whether you recover from a data breach.

Minimized Downtime

There are many things that can derail your company, but downtime is one of the most threatening. If someone can’t find your website or access your system, they might turn to a competitor instead.

Studies have shown that IT downtime ranges from $100,000 to approximately $540,000 per hour. Small businesses likely have no way to accommodate situations like these. Fortunately, your service provider can keep downtime to an absolute minimum.

Better Scalability

As your company’s needs grow, you’ll need to scale. However, scaling can be difficult if you don’t have the right IT infrastructure in place. Businesses that rely on internal teams typically struggle to handle the increased demand for resources.

You can use your relationship with your IT professional to scale seamlessly. They have the capability to handle dozens or even hundreds of companies’ IT needs. It won’t be an issue for you to increase your level of service.

It’s important to note that you might experience higher rates depending on your needs. However, many providers are willing to negotiate.

Improved Core Business Focus

Outsourcing your needs can allow you to focus more on your company’s other obligations. This is especially useful for businesses with tight budgets.

For instance, you could hire a managed service provider and put more emphasis on pushing your sales team further. There’s no shortage of opportunities that arise once you hire someone to handle your IT needs.

Security Awareness Training

Some providers offer security awareness training. As the name implies, they can train your team on recognizing common security threats and how to take action if they encounter them. This is an essential attribute to consider, as some data breaches occur due to employee negligence.

Common Cybersecurity Risks

There are countless cybersecurity risks that every business faces. The more you understand these threats, the easier it will be to prevent incidents from occurring. Here are some of the most concerning ones to stay aware of.

Malware

This is a general term that refers to software used for malicious purposes. These applications are often designed solely to compromise data or cause havoc.

A common scenario could involve someone accidentally downloading malware from what they thought was a trusted website. Upon installing it, the application makes it difficult to use the machine properly and also allows a hacker to remotely monitor your activity.

Phishing Attacks

These attacks utilize social engineering to coerce users into taking the desired action. Unfortunately, phishing is sometimes difficult to recognize.

Hackers have become highly efficient at effectively spoofing trusted parties.

Imagine if you received an email from your bank. The URL looked legitimate, and the message looked like others you’ve gotten before.

The email says your account has been compromised and you need to log in to confirm your identity. Upon clicking the link in the email, you’re redirected to a false webpage that’s effectively a clone of the bank’s login screen. You try to log in multiple times, but you keep getting a message that your login failed.

This is because the website doesn’t actually have functionality. It’s designed to collect the information you input and give it to the hacker.

DDoS Attacks

Also known as a distributed denial-of-service attack, DDoS attacks aim to make websites inaccessible. They often do so by using compromised computers to overload a particular network.

Hackers do this for a variety of reasons, such as to extort a business. They could demand a sum of money to restore access to the website.

However, some hackers simply enjoy causing chaos. They might arbitrarily choose a business and make its site impossible to use.

Zero-Day Exploits

The term “zero-day” refers to issues that developers have only recently learned about. This creates situations where hackers take advantage of security flaws that developers have struggled to patch. This means the hackers have high success rates when using them.

To clarify, let’s assume that you use an investment app to manage your money. After a recent update, hackers discovered an exploit that allows them to extract a data set of user login information. They can then use this information to transfer users’ funds to another account.

The developer doesn’t learn of this issue until after hackers start using it. This essentially creates a high-pressure situation where they rush to minimize the damage caused.

Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the most concerning cyber threats businesses face. It aims to encrypt key information on a computer and then demand payment in exchange for access.

Hackers ask for payment in cryptocurrency so the transaction can’t be traced. It’s recommended to never pay the ransom if you’re hit with this attack. This will only facilitate future attacks, and there’s no guarantee the hacker will return access to your data.

Even the FBI recommends against it. If you experience a ransomware attack, it’s best to restore our previous backup of your systems and go on with your day.

Trojan Viruses

Most people are familiar with this type of virus. It masquerades as a harmless program and operates in the background.

However, it has malicious intent and often aims to extract key data without the user knowing. Trojans typically enter systems through compromised downloads or by using suspicious websites.

Hire the Right Managed Services

The tips in this guide will ensure you hire the right managed services for your situation. From here, you’ll avoid issues you may have otherwise encountered and have no trouble reaching your target metrics.

Our team at Empist has nearly two decades of multifaceted technology experience. We offer a comprehensive range of IT solutions, including cloud services and application development. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can take your business to the next level.

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