Makes Sure These Items Are Covered In Your Managed Services Agreement
When it comes to managed services agreements, there’s no end to the variations that can be made. Every business has unique technology requirements, and in turn, one agreement can vary widely from another.
So what SHOULD be included – at a bare minimum – in your managed services agreement? There are quite a few “non-negotiables” that should be there, regardless of what type of organization you operate, what industry you’re working in, and any other stipulations involved.
What Is A Managed Services Agreement?
Before we look at what should be included in a managed services agreement, we need to outline what, exactly, a managed services agreement is. When you enter a relationship with an MSP, they will create an agreement that outlines:
- The responsibilities of each party involved in the relationship
- The expectations in terms of performance and/or response times
The managed services agreement is, ultimately, designed to protect the interests of each party involved.
What Should Be Included In A Managed Services Agreement?
A managed services agreement must have the following items covered to ensure the client (in this case, you) is protected and knows what to expect:
First and foremost, you should have each service you’re paying for listed, as well as what the service entails. If there are extra costs for any specific service, those extra costs should be outlined too. This may include:
- Data backup
- Business continuity
- And much more
Support Coverage Standards
This refers to the help desk support team’s availability, as well as the expected response times for someone to get back to you whenever you need troubleshooting or assistance of any kind. Some will offer a guarantee while others offer an estimate.
Performance standards should be outlined in terms of what you can expect from the health and/or functioning of your systems, including OS requirements, update levels, hardware requirements, and other information.
There should be a breakdown of what the cost per month actually includes, such as payment schedules and any potential fees that may be incurred outside of your flat-rate fee. You should know when payments are due, what happens if payments are late, and overall, feel comfortable with the cost.
This is important in today’s day and age. They should outline how they plan to keep your confidential information safe and who has access to which data stored on your network. They should have some sort of policy in place to keep this information protected.
Terms Of Service
Keep in mind, the managed services agreement is a binding contract, which means you should always see a “terms of service” section in your agreement. This should outline the following:
- Cancellation policies
- Length of time in which the agreement is valid
- The rights of each party in regards to the agreement
You can expect to see a non-solicitation clause that protects your MSP against you poaching their talent. This is fairly typical because you’ll likely find yourself working closely with a few specific technicians.
What Are Red Flags In A Managed Services Agreement?
There are some red flags you should be aware of before signing any given managed services agreement. This includes:
No Uncovered Areas Specified
If they don’t outline what ISN’T covered, you should be wary. This may lead to big surprises when it’s time to pay your bill and they’ve charged you for after-hours support but you thought it was covered.
No Acceptable Grounds For Termination Specified
If they don’t specify what qualifies as acceptable grounds for termination and you’re signing a 12+ month contract, you should be wary. You don’t want to end up stuck with an IT company that isn’t doing their job.
No Mention Of Confidentiality After The Contract Ends
When they review the confidentiality and privacy of your data, they should mention that the terms of the agreement are valid and will be honored, even after the contract ends. This should be a standard with ALL vendors you’re working alongside.