What SLAs Should Your Business Look for in a Managed IT Provider
To create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that benefits both the company and Managed IT Service Provider (MSP), there should be a clear understanding of the terms and expectations. Fundamentally, the SLA should provide and define specific details of the agreement in terms of what is covered, how, when, and by whom.
As a business owner, you need to be involved in developing or revising the SLA to fit your needs.
At ITS, we’re dedicated to helping hundreds of businesses make smart decisions regarding their technology. In this article, we’ll go ever the following:
- What is a Service Level Agreement?
- What are the key things to look for in an MSP Service Level Agreement?
- When should you revise your Service Level Agreement?
After a complete readthrough, you should be able to create an effective SLA with your MSP.
What is a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
SLAs hold MSPs accountable when delivering an expected standard of IT Services. The core goal of an SLA between a company and the provider is to outline both parties' payment structure and service responsibilities. And that includes specifically defining and documenting exactly what services the MSP will offer, including:
- The hardware and software are covered,
- Daily monitoring services,
- Troubleshooting services in emergency situations,
- Response times,
- Revision and Termination, and more.
Some SLAs will offer more or less information, depending on what was agreed upon by both parties.
What are the components of an SLA?
SLAs are often modified to fit the parameters and needs of your business and the unique relationship the MSP has with your business. But when working out the Service Level Agreement with your MSP, here are the general things you should expect to see:
1. Service definitions
First and foremost, the SLA should include the list of services your MSP will offer. The list should be as specific as possible to avoid any future inconveniences and ensure that all the services included are actually beneficial to your business.
For example, if you own a medium-sized business and the MSP you are working with has three service levels, you may choose the mid-level service as you don’t need the extent of services offered to larger businesses.
The responsibilities of each party should be clearly set forth, including ongoing support, maintenance, and troubleshooting. This will create structure around what is expected from each party and what specific issues require intervention.
Ideally, there should be a protocol for your MSP with regards to:
- Responsibility: What areas of your company’s IT should your MSP manage and monitor?
- Emergencies: What constitutes an emergency?
- Response Time: If and when you report an emergency, what is the minimum timeframe that your managed service provider will respond within?
- Reporting Method: How do you report an emergency? What information do you need to provide? Will this vary based on the time of day or week?
3. Reporting responsibilities
The SLA should establish clear reporting responsibilities and guidelines for service assessment. Make sure you know when to report problems, determine the severity of each issue, and to which channels to communicate this information to the provider.
4. Response time
A critical piece of the SLA is defining an acceptable window for service response. This means defining how quickly a provider should respond to a complaint, response times during non-working hours compared to working hours, and how many technicians will be allotted for each event.
Should a service provider fail to deliver, the SLA should outline clear action steps the provider will take to rectify the situation.
6. TerminationThe SLA should include a termination clause that details specific circumstances in which you can cancel the agreement. This section outlines the legal procedures necessary to create a smooth transition.
Helpful tip: Once you are satisfied with the SLA your MSP has provided, it's best to go over it with your lawyer. They will help determine if any aspect of the SLA is unfair to you legally or could present potential problems.
When should you revise your SLA?
Your company will go through a lot of changes during your SLA run. That is why it is crucial that both the client and MSP periodically review their SLA and edit it as needed based on your current needs.
An SLA should be viewed as a complex agreement that can be reviewed when the following occurs:
- Adding or removing a service
Whenever your company adds or stops offering a service, the SLA should be revisited in order to maintain current productivity levels in light of the new circumstances.
- The work environment has changed
Your company’s work environment is destined to change with new hires and different technologies. It is essential that your SLA accurately reflects your work environment through all of its changes.
- Advancements in technology
If new technology allows your company to enhance communication or improve customer service, an updated SLA should also display that.
- Regular Revisions
The recommended time for SLA revision is every 18 to 24 months to make sure that inaccurate or old information isn’t portrayed in the agreement.
Need help reviewing your current SLA with your MSP?
Your SLA is more than just a list of services you’re receiving. It is your legal guarantee that your MSP will adhere to the same standards of quality that your customers expect from you. Don’t let them down. Take note of the key things you should look for in an MSP to affirm that your company will get the best IT service:
- Service definitions
- Reporting responsibilities
- Response time
At ITS, we ensure that our current and potential clients understand their technology and everything around it. As an MSP for nearly twenty years, we make sure that our SLAs are up to our client’s standards and are suitable for their business. Schedule a meeting with us today if you want to know how we can help you effectively manage your technology.