Managed security questions

What to ask when looking for managed security services

When shopping around for managed security services, you need to make sure you’re getting a good return on investment. But what should you look for exactly? 

It’s not always easy to tell if the provider is a good fit for your needs, so we’ve written out a list of essentials to ask about when considering a partner for your business. 

Do you have experience with similar businesses? 

This can include similarities in size, goals, infrastructure or industry. The more experience they have in any or all of those fields the better. That means less discovery time, more familiarity with what will work well for you, and maybe even a few valuable tricks up their sleeve from a previous client. 

Ask what practices or technologies they implemented in those businesses, how the rollout(s) went, and the business benefits associated with those projects. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask for client references or testimonials to get the facts straight from the horse’s mouth. 

You don’t necessarily want to eliminate a provider immediately if they’re inexperienced (after all, they could be a hidden gem), but more experienced providers should have the scales tipped in their favor. 

Can you manage what we already have in place? 

Sometimes an overhaul is in order, but more often you don’t want to invest that kind of capital up front. Make sure that you are on the same page with your provider on this before you sign with someone with different strengths – they may be more inclined to change things from the ground up (unless that’s what you want) or may lack the ability to handle what’s there. 

Different providers can be cloud-only or on-site-only, or they have established technology partnerships that indicate unique solution or infrastructure expertise. Again, focus is great if that aligns with your company’s immediate goals when signing a provider. But if that’s not the case it’s best to address it early in the process. 

That being said, it doesn’t hurt to hear them out if they have a particular preferred solution. It could end up being an improvement over your current solution. Consider their strategic reasons for doing what they do and see if you’re convinced. 

What can you tell me about your staff? 

Obviously, you want the best team that you can get your hands on, and you want the same from your managed security services provider. Ask about their experience in the field and current certifications. If you want to do a deep probe, you could also ask about hiring and training practices to see if those are up to snuff. 

If the provider can’t brag to you about their team, then you may want to reconsider. 

On a related note, ask how you will be interacting with the staff. Some providers only offer phone support, some will dispatch available staff to your site as necessary, and some will assign a dedicated service professional. Who will be your point of contact? Do we call them or email them? These are things that you’ll be glad you asked about when you need help. 

How will we outline responsibilities? 

Some providers will have a comprehensive scope and others will be more limited. Neither is a bad option as long as you get what you need from the agreement. However, it is wise to talk about it up front so that you have the same expectations out of the partnership. 

For that matter, you should also ask about pricing when it comes to projects that fall outside the agreed-upon scope. Occasionally, special projects will pop up, and you’ll need to know what the numbers might look like if it’s something that the provider can handle. 

In summation 

If you keep these questions in mind, you’ll have most of your bases covered when doing your research about managed security services. Of course, you’ll always have more specific questions when it gets down to brass tacks, but these are likely to give you a good picture of the potential partnership from the start. 

If you have questions about what you need to consider with your specific needs, don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance. We’ll be happy to help.