What happens after signing your Managed Service Agreement? The implementation of a contract marks the starting point, for both you and the service provider. Regardless if these services get provided during the establishment of a new MSP relationship or updated with an existing provider, you are relying heavily upon the service provider for your managed service needs and honoring the agreement.
Before You Sign, What 10 Items Should You Expect in a Managed Service Agreement?
Even though you may have a contract that states and governs the managed services, your contract may still lack significant details. Details that address what you might expect to encounter once services and operations begin. Therefore, it is best to fully understand critical expectations, for all service components upfront, before you start to negotiate.
If the time has come and you’ve been planning to outsource your IT services, then these ten items need addressing before signing any managed IT services contract. Most importantly, do the documents cover all your business IT needs? Review and evaluate each MSP’s offering and their contractual agreement.
Right now, security is on everyone’s mind. Your managed IT services provider should have a comprehensive plan detailing how cybersecurity gets addressed. Their procedure must include:
Encryption at the file level
How those services are carried out
All managed IT services need to include basic server maintenance, network administration, storage maintenance, and typical network issues. Preferably the managed services contract should cover what you want accomplished, on your network. Before meeting with the provider, create your requirements list. That list is your current IT services needs, and it must match the provider’s contract agreement.
Helpdesk Support – On-Premises or Remote
Helpdesk managed support is standard in many contracts. However, you’ll need to know if the managed services provider is local or will they only provide remote support? If your current IT services are cloud-based, then remote support should be acceptable. However, pay close attention to the hours of Helpdesk Support stated in the agreement. If it is not 24/7 support, then you need to confirm their support covers your business hours and weekend support if required.
Every part of your IT system, including network monitoring, needs to get covered under the service agreement. Control plays a critical role, especially with any network vulnerabilities that can disrupt your network. Most solutions have the provider monitoring every area of your system. However, you’ll want to ask them if they cover mobile devices, virtual machines, and remote users. Network monitoring must also include intrusion detection and prevention, along with firewall control and configuration.
When reviewing managed IT services agreements, always ask how your data gets backed up and stored. The reason for this, you may have an on-premises physical backup and storage assets, but the service provider only uses the cloud for that IT function. These are areas you’ll want to ask plenty of questions. If the provider does use the cloud, you’ll want to know:
How secure is their cloud backup solution?
Is their backup hosted on a public or private cloud server?
If the public cloud, will they consider using a private cloud for your backups?
If your data won’t get backed up in the cloud, where are the backups getting stored?
Disaster Recovery Plan
Check the service agreement to make sure a disaster recovery plan comes standard. If not mentioned in the agreement, ask to have it added. A complete per location-dependent, disaster recovery plan, must get included, with exact details listed within the IT service contract. When disaster strikes your business, you want immediate access to your backups and a recovery plan that will get you back online quickly.
Policy Creation and Updates
Along the way, your IT infrastructure will change. As it does, those old policies will need re-written and updated, or new ones created, especially if your industry has mandatory compliance regulations. Do request any, and all new or updated documentation covers security, data monitoring, and BYOD. Policy creation and updates to current literature need stating in the managed service agreement also.
Questions to Ask
When discussing, what gets covered in a managed IT services contracts, with the service provider, it would help to create a list of questions to ask beforehand. Below are just a few you can add to your record:
How often is maintenance performed?
What is the expected level of performance?
What type of damage gets and doesn’t get covered?
Who performs the maintenance, and how do they do it?
Who is responsible if the equipment gets damaged during maintenance?
If you are assigned a dedicated technician, how can you stay in touch with them?
Termination of Service
Some companies do go back to in-house IT staff to manage their networks. When terminating your managed service agreement, it’s best to check what will take place, before you sign the contract. You’ll want to know ahead of time, should the managed services contract terminate, does it require a monthly or annual renewal. Along with that, will you incur any penalties for ending your service before the expiration date? Also, what is considered acceptable, in the contract, for the managed service provider to cancel the agreement on their end?
The non-solicitation agreement must cover protection for both parties, primarily, not to reach out and solicit to hire, each company’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. But do check the documentation to see if it gets included. If not stated, do ask that it gets added.
When you are in the market to hire managed services providers, remember to ask that individual to explain how each service component will get delivered to your organization. What constitutes acceptable standards for each measurable service item.
And do take all ten items presented above, into consideration, especially when reviewing any managed services agreement. You want assurance that when you finally switch over to an MSP, all of your IT needs will meet and exceed your expectations.
Did you find this article informative? If you liked this one, check out our other content we think you’ll find interesting.