Ryan Stickel

By: Ryan Stickel on December 8th, 2023

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Getting a Price Quote from a New Managed Service Provider

Business Strategy | Outsourced IT Support

So, you’re preparing to discuss a possible IT partnership with a new managed service provider. There’s one issue: IT is a very broad and sometimes overwhelming term, and you’re not really sure what services you’re asking them for. You have a pretty good idea of what technology your business needs and you may even have an OK understanding of the services your current IT partner is providing. So why does it seem like this new MSP is speaking a different language?

No worries, we understand how overwhelming finding a new IT partner can be. Let’s talk through some information you’ll want to have when you sit down with an MSP so that your transition can be as smooth as possible.

Understanding your current IT infrastructure

First, we want to start with your current IT infrastructure and provider. We’ll start with three big questions to ask yourself:

  1. What technology do you have? (This is a broad question. We’ll elaborate further below.)
  2. Who is managing it?
  3. What infrastructure and applications, if any, are included in your current outsourced services?

These questions will provide an MSP with a good overview of your current situation and what the next course of action should look like should you move forward in the quoting process.

When you’re transitioning IT providers, the last thing you want is to be blindsided by a solution or service that got overlooked. The more detailed information you can provide to your potential new partner, the fewer surprises you may have if you move forward with a change.

What technology do you have?

The more detail you have about your current technology the better, but we understand that you may not have all the specifics – and that’s OK. A good MSP can help you find what they need or explain what any unknowns could mean if you move forward without absolute clarity. Then, it’s up to you to decide how much digging you want to do upfront vs. accepting some possible changes to the quote after you commit to a change.

Here are elements of your IT puzzle you should be prepared to discuss, but of course, “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer:

  • Network infrastructure – how many and what kind of firewalls, switches, access points, etc. do you have?
  • Where is your email hosted? Today, business email is typically, but not always, hosted through Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace.
  • What cybersecurity solutions are in place, and who is addressing any security concerns generated by these tools?
  • What are you using for multi-factor authentication?
  • What backup or business continuity solutions are in place?
  • What cloud environments are you using? Microsoft 365/Google Workspace, Azure, AWS, other cloud infrastructure?
  • How many workstations are in your environment?
  • How many servers (on-prem and in the cloud) are in your environment?
  • How many users do you have and what types of licensing is associated with your users?

Who is managing your technology?

Is your current technology partner accountable for your entire environment, or are there pieces that you’re handling internally?

Typically, in lieu of an internal IT department, your MSP should be accountable for all aspects of your environment. However, if there are gaps in the elements of the network they’re supporting, or types of services they’re providing, you may find a significant cost difference between your current MSP and any new proposals you receive.

What infrastructure and applications are included in your current managed services?

Do you own your devices or is your MSP providing hardware alongside their services? Some MSPs offer “Hardware as a Service,” where you can actually rent hardware from your MSP – this is similar to your cable company providing a home router for a small fee each month. It’s important for a potential new MSP to understand if your current MSP will be removing any hardware as part of their offboarding when you cancel their services.

More common than hardware, many MSP services include software or cloud infrastructure licensing. It’s very common for you to purchase Microsoft Azure or Microsoft 365 licenses through your MSP. If this is the case, your new MSP should prepare to take those services over. In the case of Microsoft 365, pricing is pretty straightforward. However, cloud infrastructure licenses get very complex. So, it’s important for your potential new MSP to have an understanding of the cloud environments your previous MSP will be offboarding from their services so that they can factor those environments into the price of your new contract.

Invoices and Contracts Provide Necessary Insight

Plenty of this information can be found through invoices and contracts. If you’re willing to share your current invoice, it can provide a wealth of information to your potential new MSP.

Sometimes, these invoices can be difficult to decipher, even for those well-versed in technology. There is no standard set of service names across all MSPs. If you order a cheeseburger at any restaurant, you’re guaranteed to get a ground beef patty and a slice of cheese on a bun. Prices may vary based on quality and added toppings, but we all basically know what we’re getting when the menu says “cheeseburger.” If cheeseburgers were MSP services, one menu might say “ground beef sandwich,” while another lists “slice of cheese,” “hamburger patty,” “roll (top),” and “roll (bottom)” separately.

If a potential new MSP asks to see your current invoice, they’re likely just wanting to make sure they’re not missing a slice of cheese you didn’t realize you had, or checking to see if you’ve been happy with an open-face sandwich or if you really do need a top and bottom to your roll. A trusted IT partner will help you better understand what you’re currently getting from your IT partner, and help you identify any gaps or areas of over-service.

Hidden IT Costs

When taking inventory of your IT environment, it’s important to remember that MSPs often create bundles that make it easier for them to sell their services. This isn’t a bad thing for them to do, as it simplifies options for clients through the selling process. The downside to these bundles is that they can create hidden services the client isn’t aware of.

As we mentioned earlier, some invoices can be difficult to decipher. This means that you could examine an invoice and still be left in the dark about everything you’re paying for.

Recently, we onboarded a client who through they paid Microsoft directly for their Microsoft 365 licenses. They weren’t comfortable sharing their current contract during the sales process, which is totally understandable. They confidently confirmed that we should not include Microsoft 365 licenses in the pricing of our contract.

When we began working with their current IT partner to transition services, we learned that their IT partner was, in fact, providing their Microsoft 365 licenses as part of a bundled service that they offered.

Since the client had given notice to that IT company, they were ready to cancel their Microsoft 365 licenses on the last day of service if we were not able to take over those licenses. Since we hadn’t included the licenses in our price quote, we had to go back to explain that if they wanted to keep their email and other Microsoft services, there would be an increased cost.

We were able to work it out, but the client did see a slight increase in the cost of services they had originally agreed to.

This was no fault of their own, as their MSP had bundled it with other services without explicitly showing it on the invoice.

If you’re in doubt about what hardware or licensing is included in your current IT services, ask. If your current partner is not willing to provide that information to you, that might be indicative of a larger accountability and leadership issue.

Leadership and Business Partnerships

When we talk about leadership and accountability, it goes beyond just whether your computers are working or not (though that is a big piece of the pie). We believe that the most beneficial IT partnership is exactly that: a partnership.

There are plenty of IT companies out there that will offer a monthly fee in exchange for solving technology issues as they arise, and that’s great for plenty of businesses. There are businesses out there, though, that are searching for something more.

We believe the conversation should go beyond which servers and laptops you need. The reason you’re even speaking with us is that you need something that will improve your business, which should be the core of the conversation.

Not only should your IT leaders be involved in this process, but your business leaders as well. Technology is a crucial investment that helps dictate how your business operates. We want to hear from you about your business. How are things going? Where are you trying to be? What do you need from us to make your life easier?

These big questions about your business and IT infrastructure will require a lot of trust and transparency. We understand that those things are earned. You won’t just share this information with everyone.

The mutual trust earned through this process is what helps facilitate a successful business partnership. A real business partnership where both parties are open to having conversations about business in addition to technology. We’re passionate about that and are looking to work with businesses that are passionate about that too.

This all goes back to leadership. You want an IT team that is accountable and trustworthy. You can’t afford to invest resources with a company that can’t solve your issues or leaves you hanging. When issues do arise (and they will in this industry), you want to work with someone who owns it, not someone who pretends it didn’t happen.

Every IT Provider is Different

An MSP will come to this meeting equipped with plenty of questions about your business, but don’t hesitate to bring questions of your own. At the end of the day, this is a discussion about business and technology, and both parties will be better off the deeper the conversation goes. You want to know if this MSP is the right fit, and vice versa.

Not every IT company operates the same way, so it’s okay if this all feels a little different or new. At the end of the day, you need a trusted partner to guide you through your IT journey. If this article is speaking your language, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

Innovative Ideal Client