What a Managed Services Agreement Should Include(1)

In the case that you determine managed services are the best option for your company, you will have to sign a contract with the supplier of your choice. You and your provider should have clear expectations that are outlined in this managed services agreement. Let's examine some important components that any contract should have in order to make sure you know what you are paying for.


Services' Scalability 


Make sure your MSP is still providing coverage for you as your firm expands. As your company grows, you'll want to know how simple it will be to add and remove people. Are all the users included in the management services agreement subject to additional onboarding and offboarding fees?

You should not be constrained by your managed services arrangement and be able to expand, develop, and transform your business as needed.


Initial Environment: How Does Your IT Environment Appear and What Must Be Completed Before Your MSP Can Begin Working?


The minimum required state of your IT infrastructure at the beginning of your contract term should be explicitly stated in your IT managed services agreement.


Getting Started with Various Managed Services various providers have various onboarding procedures, so you should know what to expect from yours.

In addition to the monthly regular cost of your managed services agreement, your provider might charge an onboarding fee. No upgrades would be covered by this. Rather, it includes the time your MSP needs to configure the systems they will use to keep an eye on your environment and the time the engineers need to get acquainted with the environment they will shortly be providing support for.


Certain providers will use your first month's fee to pay onboarding rather than charging an additional fee. This indicates that your MSP will utilize the first month of the contract to onboard customers since they are not yet fully prepared to service them. 

Read your management services agreement carefully to ensure you understand the onboarding process and are not confused about additional fees or when your contract's services truly begin.


Upgrade Your System

Will your MSP support your outdated systems or take responsibility for the ones you choose not to upgrade if you have any? 
Certain providers mandate that all systems be upgraded prior to the commencement of the contract terms. Even if you decide to preserve them, some will expressly say that they do not cover "End of Support" systems. For extra fees, suppliers can also perform time and material work on these systems; however, bear in mind that your MSP most likely won't take responsibility for them.  


"End of Support" denotes that the technology's maker, like Microsoft or Cisco, is no longer providing support. This implies that these suppliers won't be providing any more security updates, bug fixes, or assistance. You should also check your managed services agreement to see if your MSP will continue to maintain an item that goes "End of Support" prior to the end of your contract.  


Accessibility: When Can You Reach Your Managed Services Provider for Assistance?

When issues emerge, you'll want to know when your managed services provider is accessible to assist and how long you should anticipate having to wait. For instance, does your provider have set helpdesk hours or is it open around-the-clock? 


It's advisable to set expectations regarding the response and resolution timelines from your provider. The response time is the amount of time you should allow after submitting a ticket to your MSP before receiving a response. The length of time it will take to resolve your issues is known as the resolution time. These expectations are helped to be set between you and your provider by service level agreements (SLAs), which let both parties know what to anticipate when issues do happen. 


Systems: What IT environment support systems does your MSP have in place?

Initially, you should be aware of where various IT and technology concerns rank in your MSP's priority hierarchy. If certain components of your IT infrastructure are lower on your provider's list, you don't want to be stuck believing they are vital.  


The escalation procedure is another essential component of any managed IT services contract. How does your MSP assign more experienced engineers to handle problems? How about reporting issues to vendors? A defined procedure should be in place for elevating issues to the person best suited to promptly resolve your IT issues.  

And lastly, what incident response plans does your MSP have? How would your provider react if something goes wrong and there is a breach in your IT environment? This could involve recovering data, updating company-wide passwords, and stepping up surveillance. Make sure the managed services provider you work with is both responsive and proactive.


Reporting: What Mechanism Does Your MSP Have in Place to Send You Reports on Their Work on Your IT System?

Reports about their activities and your IT infrastructure should be provided on a regular basis by managed services providers. For instance, the majority of MSPs will give you reports in the form of a Quarterly Business Review detailing the condition of your environment and services. 


Receive health/status reports that indicate how much you are using various plan services and whether your systems are being properly maintained. If you see that your supplier is not living up to your expectations, these reports will help you understand what you are getting for your money and hold them responsible. If you find that you are routinely not using services that you have paid for, these reports might also assist you in scaling your offerings.


Liability: For What Is Someone Liable?

The conditions of liability should be expressly stated in your managed services contract. In the agreement, what are you responsible for? Which obligations does your Managed Services Provider bear? As an illustration, we've already talked about how many MSPs who work on "End of Support" systems disclaim liability for those systems.  
Another item to check for is the liability limitations in the managed services agreement. What is the maximum amount you can sue your supplier for carelessness? 


Regarding Confidentiality, How Is Your MSP Safeguarding Your Data? 

Managed IT services agreements frequently include non-disclosure agreements, non-compete clauses, and confidentiality agreements. Many MSPs will have these agreements in place to protect your information, making it secure both internally and externally to employees. To make sure your company's data is secure, you can ask your provider to sign an NDA or confidentiality agreement if they don't already have these broad agreements in place for their staff members—or even if they do. 


Rules of Termination: How Does the Termination Process Occur?

It is important to ensure that, before signing an IT managed services agreement, you are not obligated to a supplier that cannot match your business demands. First and foremost, you should find out what occurs if your contract is not extended at the conclusion of its term. In addition, at the time of termination, who will possess the data? 


What happens if you decide to terminate your managed services agreement early? The terms of an early termination and any associated cancellation fees should be spelled out in detail in the agreement.  
Although most respectable MSPs will have a cancellation policy in place, they shouldn't charge you for cancellations.


Comprehending Managed Services Contracts

This is only the beginning of what goes into a managed services agreement; as you can surely imagine, there is much more. To ensure that you fully comprehend your connection with your Managed Services Provider and that there are clear expectations for the services you pay for, your contract should contain the points mentioned above. It should never be the case that you are in the dark about managed services. 


Verify that the Managed Services Provider is fulfilling their obligation under the contract. If not, it could be time to call it quits and go on. 


Commonly Asked Questions 
What details ought to be covered in a managed services contract? 


The scope of services offered by the Managed Services Provider (MSP), service level agreements (SLAs), scalability options, onboarding procedures, policies for system upgrades, accessibility and support availability, incident response plans, reporting mechanisms, liability terms, confidentiality agreements, rules of termination, and any associated fees or penalties for early termination are just a few of the details that should be included in a managed services contract. 

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