Response & Resolution Times from a Managed Services Provider: What Good Looks Like

Work-life balance can be more difficult to achieve now, more than ever before. You have a laundry list of responsibilities that keeps evolving, and there are never enough hours to complete everything.

You deserve reliable, high-quality IT support – not wasted time spent frustrated with IT issues.

Managed Services Providers (MSPs) are pivotal in empowering staff productivity and ensuring seamless business operations. When IT issues arise, and support is required, time is of the essence. Response and resolution times are two key metrics measured to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the help desk solutions rendered. Understanding the nuances between response and resolution times can make all the difference in setting realistic expectations and achieving mutually beneficial partnerships.

In this blog, we’ll delve into what response and resolution times mean in managed services, what the industry standards look like, and what you should expect from a best-in-class Managed Services Provider (MSP).

Defining Response and Resolution Times

Before we delve into the metrics, it is imperative to define the two key terms: response time and resolution time.

  • Response Time: This refers to the duration from the receipt of a support ticket until an IT support staff member has triaged the issue and determined an appropriate next course of action. This measure of Response Time is entirely determined by a Managed Services Provider and is dependent upon their processes and capacity.

It is crucial to note that Response Time is not the duration until IT support directly implements resolution measures, which is how end-users often view “response time.” While it’s understandable that users who are unfamiliar with IT service delivery may think of response time in this way, it’s an inaccurate way to view response time, and we’ll explain why:

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a leading authority for IT service management that provides best practices and guidelines for managing IT services effectively. For additional context about why Response Time is defined as described above, here’s an overview of the relevant steps in the IT troubleshooting process according to ITIL:

  1. Incident Identification: The incident (ITIL refers to issues as Incidents) is either reported by end-users or by monitoring and management systems.
  2. Incident Logging: Once an issue is identified, it must be logged in an Incident Management system (aka, ticketing system), including details such as the date and time of the incident, a description of the issue, the impacted service(s), and any relevant user or system information.
  3. Categorization & Prioritization: The incident is categorized based on predefined categories (e.g., hardware, software, network) and is assigned a priority level. Priority levels are typically defined by impact and urgency, helping IT staff determine the order in which incidents should be addressed.
  4. Initial Diagnosis: The IT support team conducts an initial diagnosis of the incident to determine the root cause and potential resolution. This may involve using knowledge bases, assessing monitoring data, reviewing historical incident data, and other diagnostic tools.
  5. Incident Escalation: If the initial diagnosis does not lead to a quick resolution or if the incident falls outside the expertise of the initial support staff, it may be escalated to higher-level support teams or subject matter experts.
  6. Resolution and Workaround: The primary goal is to resolve the incident quickly. If a known solution is available, it is applied. If not, IT staff may implement a workaround to restore service temporarily while further investigation continues. Before IT support can start implementing a resolution or workaround, other factors must be considered, including the user’s availability, the disruptiveness of the potential fix, the client’s tolerance for the disruption, and whether on-site intervention is required, among others.
  7. Incident Closure: Once the incident is resolved, it is formally closed. This involves documenting the resolution steps taken and verifying that the issue is resolved to the user’s satisfaction.

Response Time, therefore, is the time until IT support has begun the initial diagnosis (Step 4 above). It is not, as many users may think of it, the time until a resolution or workaround is implemented (Step 6 above). This distinction is important for managed services providers to communicate effectively with their clients and for their clients to genuinely understand and avoid misaligned expectations and unfair valuations of performance.

  • Resolution Time: Resolution Time, on the other hand, refers to the duration of time between initiating a support request (Step 1 in the ITIL troubleshooting process explained above) and successfully resolving the issue (Step 7 above). This includes the time taken to diagnose, troubleshoot, and implement the necessary resolution or workarounds. Many factors, including the underlying technology, the complexity of the problem, client availability and preferences, the expertise of the support team, and the availability of required resources, influence Resolution Times. Since a multitude of factors influences resolution times, they are not entirely within the control of a managed services provider.

Now that we’ve clarified these definitions let’s explore industry standards and what constitutes “good” Response Times and Resolution Times.

Industry Averages for Managed Services Providers

While industry averages can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, a general benchmark for MSPs is as follows:

  • Average Response Time: Generally, an average MSP aims to have a first response time of about one hour.
  • Average Resolution Time: Industry standards hint at an approximate resolution time of within 8 to 24 hours for most issues. However, this depends on the nature and complexity of the problem. For example, resolving some issues may require interruptive reboots or equipment replacements that must be scheduled around the client’s business activities or may depend on equipment availability and delivery timeframes.

Best in Class Service Levels for Managed Services Providers

What separates best-in-class MSPs from average ones is their expertise, mature processes, capacity, and commitment to responsive service. Here are the benchmarks:

  • Best-in-Class Response Time: Leading MSPs pride themselves on rapid response times, often responding to tickets in under 30 minutes.
    • Framework IT’s average response time is significantly faster than this – contact one of our experts here to learn how we can make your life easier. 
  • Best-in-Class Resolution Time: When it comes to resolution, top-tier providers strive to resolve most issues in less than 8 hours and have robust strategies in place to facilitate this without compromising the quality of the solution. That said, it’s important to remember that resolution times are not entirely within the MSP’s control, and the nature and complexity of the issue have a massive impact on resolution times. Complex issues may take longer, sometimes days or weeks.
    • Framework IT’s average resolution time is significantly faster than this – contact one of our experts here to learn how we can make your life easier. 

Balancing Response and Resolution Times with Quality Service

It is essential to understand that fast response times and resolution times can come at the expense of quality service, therefore, clients of managed services providers should not solely view these metrics as determinants of quality service. Top MSPs ensure that they are quick to respond without rushing through the resolution process, giving each issue the attention and expertise to solve it for good so repeat issues do not continue to cause staff downtime.


While speedy response and resolution times indicate a managed services provider’s efficiency and customer-centric approach, the balance with quality service truly distinguishes the best in the field. When engaging with an MSP, consider their historical response and resolution times to gauge their potential performance. Doing so will ensure you partner with a provider that values not just speed but also reliable and consistently high-quality service so you have the time to focus on what’s most important to you.

Learn more about how we can help you get IT right by speaking with one of our experts here.