You’re used to us harping on the benefits of a Managed Service Provider (MSP). In fact, we dedicated a whole eBook to that very topic and laid out what to look for in a provider. However, before you sign on the dotted line with any third-party vendor, no matter how perfect a match they seem, be sure to triple check the fine print. Literally.
The contract, or Service Level Agreement (SLA) as it is commonly referred, between you and your chosen MSP should include basic fundamentals that clearly defines the level and types of service you’ll receive during the partnership. So before you put pen to paper and watch the ink dry on your newly minted IT relationship, take the needed time (and seek legal counsel if desired) to ensure the following is covered in your agreement.
Scope of Services
A typical SLA contains an outline of expected services rendered. This can also include products if your MSP is providing your business with Software as a Service (SaaS) or a cloud platform. Additionally, this section summarizes response times and other detailed aspects of your services, such as the number of available technicians used to work on issues and other incidentals.
A big part of your MSP arrangement is performance-oriented. One of the main reasons you are probably outsourcing to a provider is for their expertise and the results they can pull in versus your own IT setup. So it’s important to know the metrics being used to quantify the success of their services. Also, your contract should lay out reporting details, such as how often you’ll get feedback and who is in charge of reporting purposes.
Another area your SLA should touch upon is the reporting process for IT issues. A step-by-step checklist might not be convenient, but an intricately agreed upon plan on how to report problems and the proper response is helpful and can save a lot of back-and-forth headache. One way to gauge appropriate response time is to have varying levels of severity for IT challenges. High level claims require quicker turnaround while non-pressing matters should leave a wider berth. Write out what qualifies in each category so miscommunication doesn’t occur at inopportune times.
While we’d all like to believe everyone we are doing business with is on the up and up, sometimes a legal eye is the least blinded. Part of a contract must address all the legal mumbo jumbo so nobody can bail out for the heck of it. Conventional legalities include fine tuning on certain sections; indemnification and exclusion polices; how to handle third-party claims; or what to do if obligations aren’t met.
As a participant in the SLA, you can’t just be a spectator. You must actively participate in the collaboration for optimal effectiveness. Knowing what channels you must navigate and the responsibilities you hold as a consumer can go a long way in keeping harmony alive between the parties. It’s wrong to just expect success without playing by certain rules and partaking in the hard work it might take to get there.
While this is a subject that nobody likes to talk about, it is perhaps one of the most vital. After all, if put between a rock and a firewall, you need somewhere to travel to. A normal termination clause states how and when a contract can be voided, plus gives a comprehensive procedure on the process for termination. Most likely this includes advance notice from the party implementing withdrawal from the SLA. Several other elements comprise the clause, but just observe it for any ill-constructed statements or outlandish stipulations.
Taking It One Step Further
AT ITC, it is our mission to remain transparent with our clients and set our clear expectations from the beginning. Our track record of clients acts as a benchmark of how our SLAs are synchronized to our services. If that sounds like something you could work with, contact us today