So you’ve decided to get managed IT support services for your business. But do you know if you’re getting everything you should be from your agreement? Like any other kind of agreement, an IT service agreement can be filled with difficult to understand jargon which can make it a little difficult for the layman to understand exactly what he’s getting themselves into.
You might be tricked into thinking you’re getting more than you actually are!
To know whether a deal is too good to be true, here are a few things your managed IT support service agreements should include:
First and foremost, before getting into any kind of contract with an MSP (Managed Service Provider), check if they have the expertise required to complete the services they offer. If the MSP does not provide any service in your package, this should be clearly outlined. Here are a few services they should be providing that can be an indicator of whether you’re getting the bang for your buck:
- Network administration and network monitoring.
- Technology management which includes (but is not limited to) anti-spyware, email, spam and malware management, desktop/laptop optimisation, data backup administration and documentation.
- Support services. Is the MSP going to be available whenever you need them? How quick is their expected response time? Does your agreement include help desk support, on-site and mobile support, remote problem identification and resolution?
- Dedicated account management. How many people are going to be managing the network systems of your company? What is the turnover rate of the MSP you’re hiring? Knowing there’s a dedicated team that knows the insides and outsides of your business, common IT issues and processes helps maintain continuity for your business.
- Data backup. What happens in case of a loss of data? Does your MSP have the appropriate systems in place to ensure minimum downtime in such a case?
Does your agreement specify what you should expect from the health and functioning of your systems? These may include OS and hardware requirements, update levels, spyware and firewall versions, and other information. You should have a clear idea of what you’re getting and what to expect.
Many MSPs quote a lump sum amount in their contracts. This is bad practice. If an MSP cannot break down their costs and identify exactly how much each service costs, or cannot tell you of any other potential fees that may be incurred outside of the flat-rate fee, you might want to doublethink getting into a contract with them.
Similarly, look whether the agreement specifies when payments are due and what happens if you miss a payment. Total transparency is key when signing any contract. You need to have complete trust in your MSP so you can get the most benefit out of them.
When you’re trusting an MSP with safeguarding your confidential data and company practices from outside threats, the last thing you want is for the data breach to come from the MSP themselves. This can be avoided by carefully locating the clause which mentions what systems the company has in place to protect your confidential information and who has access to it.
Additionally, ask what the MSP does to protect its own systems from cyberattacks. Finally, what happens after your contract ends? Do they still honour the terms of the agreement?
You don’t want to be stuck in a contract for more than a year with an MSP that isn’t doing their job or is underperforming. Check whether your agreement specifies what are acceptable grounds for termination and if there’s a fee attached with it.
What doesn’t your MSP cover? Whether you’re purchasing a customised plan for your business which doesn’t have certain services, or whether the MSP does not have the resources to offer any certain services, these should be clearly outlined in your agreement.
Disaster Management Plan
What happens in case there is a data breach or a cyber attack? What systems does your MSP have in place to protect you from incurring major losses and downtime? If it is not already included in your agreement, ask for it to be added.
Suppose your business sees a major boom in the next six months and you decide to expand. Or you have been facing consistent losses and might need to downsize. In either case, the terms of your agreement and the extent of your coverage will need to change. Ensure your managed IT support services agreement allows you to change the plan as required according to your company’s needs.
Like any other agreement, a managed IT support services agreement is a legally binding contract that needs to be carefully architectured and evaluated. You don’t want to be paying for services that your company might not ever need, and you don’t want to not be fully covered while paying the full fee!