When it comes to partnering with a managed IT services provider (MSP), one of the most important decisions your small- or mid-sized business (SMB) will make is signing a service level agreement (SLA). This document outlines the expectations and commitments of both you and your MSP with regard to the services to be provided. A properly defined SLA can be a powerful tool that sets your SMB up for long-term IT success.
Having an idea of what should be included in a comprehensive SLA will help you to create one that meets the specific needs of your SMB. Here are five key components that should be included in every SLA.
Goals and objectives
The first step in creating an effective SLA is to sit down with your MSP and clearly define the goals and objectives of the partnership. What are you looking to achieve with the help of an MSP? Are there any specific IT pain points that you want to address? By understanding your SMB’s needs, your MSP can tailor the IT services and solutions to be provided to help you achieve your desired results. Defining your goals and objectives upfront also makes it easier to measure the success of your partnership later on.
Description of services
The SLA should include a comprehensive description of the services being provided by the MSP. The descriptions should be detailed enough that there is no ambiguity about what is included in the scope of the agreement. Managed IT services can cover a lot of ground, from 24/7 help desk support to regular network maintenance and monitoring. Be sure that you have a complete understanding of the services being offered and that these align with your SMB’s unique needs.
Among the most important aspects of an SLA are the performance standards that must be met by the MSP, as well as the specific metrics that will be used to measure these standards. These IT performance indicators may include uptime, response times, and resolution rates. Work with your MSP to determine which metrics are most important to your SMB and make sure that these are included in the SLA.
In setting performance standards, it’s important to be realistic. If the expectations are too high, this can lead to frustration on both sides. Conversely, if the standards are set too low, this may result in subpar service. Rather, the goal should be to find a happy medium that sets reasonable expectations and leaves room for improvement.
Remediation for failure to meet service obligations
In the event that your MSP fails to meet the standards outlined in the SLA, there should be some type of remediation plan in place. This could take the form of credits that can be applied to future services or financial compensation like refunds. There could also be more severe penalties for persistent or major issues, such as termination of the agreement. Having this type of clause in the SLA protects your SMB in the event that the MSP is unable to meet its obligations.
No matter how well things are going, there may come a time when you need to part ways with your MSP. Perhaps your SMB has outgrown the services being provided or you’re simply not happy with the MSP’s level of service. Whatever the reason, it’s important to have an exit strategy in place. The SLA should include a clause that outlines the process for terminating the agreement, as well as any associated fees. Typically, a 90-day notice period must be given before the MSP can be released from its obligations.
By including these five key components in your SLA, you can be sure that you have a well-rounded agreement that sets your SMB up for success. If you’re unsure where to start, reach out to an experienced MSP like outsourceIT for assistance in creating an SLA that meets your specific needs. Get in touch with one of our specialists today.