3 Common Oversights in Managed IT Service Provider Agreements

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Trae Cobern
by Trae Cobern
12/19/19 11:10 AM

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Following through on a promise is the key to building trust. When we meet with a potential client to discuss our Managed IT services, we’re often asked to outline exactly what’s included in a monthly managed services agreement in great detail. After some digging, we discover that the question stems from a situation where they were promised a certain level of service from another Managed IT provider, only to be disappointed once they signed on.

Chances are, you’re more than willing to pay a fair price and not go with the cheapest option as long as you get what you agreed to. But unfortunately, there may be assumptions as part of a service level agreement that aren’t always spelled out in black and white. 

Before you agree to another Managed IT contract, know what qualities to look for and get answers to these three questions. 

How quickly can you respond if there are issues?

There’s no reason you should have to wait hours to get answers or have someone address an issue, and reputable Managed IT providers shouldn’t leave you hanging. Ask about ways a potential services company responds to your calls for help. They should have multiple avenues available, including an after-hours phone line or online chat support and, of course, local technicians who will be there for you. Be sure to ask about average response times and don’t accept vague answers. 

Your information technology provider should also offer support that allows a technician to access your system for remote monitoring and management to assess the situation and potentially resolve it without making you wait for someone to show up. 

If your current provider repeatedly takes too long to provide service, it might be a sign that they’ve overcommitted and have too many clients to manage, that their staff is overworked, or they simply aren’t leveraging technology solutions or processes to their advantage. And if they can’t manage their own technology, there’s little chance they’ll be able to efficiently manage yours. 

Do you have the right people in place to eliminate recurring issues? 

The labor shortage is impacting every industry, including IT services. Finding qualified workers who have the right kind of technical skills is a growing challenge in nearly every market. If you find that you repeatedly need to call on your managed services provider (MSP) to fix the same issues over and over, it’s a sign they lack the expertise you need.

Ask about the average tenure of technicians and the provider’s dedication to continuing education. With technology evolving so quickly, it’s important for IT professionals to stay on top of the latest fixes and cyber threats

Also, try to get a gauge on the level of collaboration that takes place; if a technician doesn’t have the answer, it’s important for them to have the resources and people they can go to in order to solve the problem, not just offer a temporary fix. A tier 1 technician should be able to handle most common issues, but you need to know they have higher level staff they can turn to for resolving bigger issues. 

How much downtime can I expect during implementation?  

Downtime is the nemesis for any business. Not having defined processes and planning is typically the big problem here and, of course, a lack of experience in implementing solutions in your industry.  In an effort to gain your business, some Managed IT companies get in over their heads, over promising and saying they’ve got what it takes to complete your project. In reality, they may not have a track record in your industry or understand your business model, leading to inevitable roadblocks along the way.

Simply put, you don’t want to provide on-the-job training for IT technicians who are simply figuring it out as they go when it comes to implementing your Managed IT project. It’s a recipe for lengthy downtime and lost production that ends up costing you a lot more than the amount listed on your contract.

There certainly are things you’ll want spelled out in writing with a potential technology services company, such as cloud computing, vendor management, employee training, and asset and application management. However, it’s often the unwritten expectations that lead to a company regretting their decision.

That doesn’t have to happen to you. If you’re looking for a Managed IT service provider or are concerned that your current provider isn’t quite following through on the promises made, reach out to Technology Pointe. We have the expertise and straight-forward answers you’re looking for. If you’re comparing us with other providers, check out our IT Vendor Assessment Checklist to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Just click the link below.

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