What Should Be Covered In Your Managed Service Agreement?
You may be considering signing up for managed IT services. Before moving forward, it’s important to make sure that everything you need is included in your contract. The time to negotiate certain items is before you sign, not after.
Your service-level agreement contains all the important information regarding your business relationship with the managed service provider. It should fully outline all terms and conditions, along with the services that your company will be receiving. It should include pricing and any special things that you and the provider have agreed upon. Remember that if your contract does not include everything you’ve talked about, then the service provider does not have to fulfill those items.
What Are 5 Good Questions to Ask First?
When discussing what’s covered in a managed IT services contract, it will help to create a list of questions to ask beforehand. Below are just a few things to think about:
- What is the expected level of performance?
- How often is maintenance performed?
- Who is responsible if the equipment gets damaged during maintenance?
- Who performs the maintenance, and how do they do it?
- Will you have a dedicated technician and how do you stay in touch with them?
What 9 Things Items Should Be Included in a Managed Service Agreement?
Outsourcing your business IT services can level the playing field. Your company can enjoy the same excellent IT infrastructure that large corporations have. Once your employees have better tools to work with, they’ll get more done each day and become more efficient. With less downtime, your staff will be more productive and your customer satisfaction will go up.
- Helpdesk Support – On-Premises or Remote: Helpdesk support is standard in many contracts, but there are different levels of support. Be sure to note the hours of Helpdesk Support stated in the agreement. If your company has several shifts, you may require 24/7 support. Many service providers charge extra for evening and weekend support.
- Infrastructure Administration: All managed IT service providers include basic server maintenance, network administration, and typical network issues. But what about your computers and workstations?
- Cyber Security: Good cyber security is a growing concern. Your managed service provider should include a strong security plan that protects all your IT assets. Does your agreement cover things like firewall settings, encryption, intrusion detection and prevention and how those services are handled?
- Network Monitoring: Network monitoring is pretty standard under most service agreements. But today there are lots of areas that could be included such as virtual machines, mobile devices, and remote users. Make sure that your firewall and its configuration are also a part of network monitoring.
- Disaster Recovery Plan: A good disaster recovery plan should be standard because the number and severity of natural disasters is growing each year. Make sure your disaster recovery plans include restoring backups of your data and helping get your workstations back up and running as quickly as possible.
- Data Backups: If you should have a fire, flood or natural disaster, you’ll need data backups that are complete and can be initiated quickly. Many providers are now using both on-site and off-site storage and backups for your data. This is proving to be the safest way to make sure that you will have those files and records if you should need them. If your provider is storing everything in the cloud, ask about whether this is a public or private cloud server.
- Non-Solicitation Agreement: The non-solicitation agreement protects both parties. It basically says that neither party can reach out and solicit to hire the other’s employees. It’s also standard practice for an MSP to agree not to sell your information to other companies, especially when they might be seeking to establish a service agreement contract with you.
- Policy Updates: Along the way, your IT needs may change. If this happens, it can be beneficial to rewrite those old policies. Businesses do grow and evolve. What works today may not work in six months. Does your service-level agreement contain an option to update the conditions and terms if necessary?
- Termination of Service: Your company may decide to go in a different direction. You might be looking to merge or downsize. Your managed service agreement should have a clause that allows you to terminate services under certain conditions. What are the acceptable reasons to end the contract early?
What’s the Bottom Line?
Hiring a great managed services provider can help your business move to the next level. But in order for the relationship to be successful, it’s important that you understand all the terms and conditions in your service level agreement. Most providers will do everything possible to ensure that you understand the contract before signing it. It’s not in their best interests to trick you into signing something that you don’t understand or may object to. Today’s managed IT service companies work at developing long-term relationships with their customers. This is a healthy way to do business.
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