When deciding to work with a managed services provider, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a “universal” service agreement.
While many companies may offer similar services to their clients, the majority of managed service companies will have their processes and priorities formatted to support the specific needs of each customer.
Still, there is a standard to how managed service agreements should be formatted to cover all criteria in a new business relationship.
As a business looking to invest in managed services, carefully formatting and reviewing a managed service agreement is key to ensuring you get the most out of your new partnership.
To assist in this area, here are six areas that all managed service agreements should cover.
Understanding the overall terms of your service agreement will describe criteria around every section of the document. For contracts, this section will stipulate the length of time they are active, how they are renewed, and if there are any cancellation policies in place. Agreement terms will also specify the rights of both parties during the entire length of the partnership.
Support Coverage Standards
As every business has specific needs, it’s essential that you have a documented understanding of support coverage standards that the service provider will commit to. This section will help to identify core hours of operation, the level of support included, and lead times to have issues addressed.
Response and Resolution Process
Disaster recovery and resolution processes are an essential aspect to any managed services relationship. Each service agreement should have a section about the overall process involved in identifying and addressing any form of service disruption. While larger-scale disruptions may have a much more detailed process to follow, service agreements should reference this type of complete documentation and review the steps for effective execution.
Fee and Payment Breakdown
Managed service agreements should always be transparent when it comes to fixed or monthly costs, payment schedules, and any potential fees that could be incurred. In case of any discrepancies, this documentation will supersede any verbal agreements or possible misunderstandings. Service agreements should always be kept up-to-date as new pricing arrangements are made over time.
User Coverage and Equipment Services
When developing new systems, service providers will implement new services, tools and hardware to support the growing needs of your organization. It’s crucial that agreements cover the level of this implementation, all costs associated, and the users/departments involved in the integration process. System requirements should be adequately identified and documented to ensure compatibility with any new services.
A staple in every managed service agreement is the confidentiality section. There will no doubt be a significant amount of sensitive data exchanged during the length of your business relationship, and confidentiality agreements protect both company’s best interests. Typically, these agreements have a legal shelf-life, but in nearly all cases pricing arrangements and business processes should never be discussed with outside parties. This section will help service providers document their expectations with clients and help enforce these standards.