Managed Services is a buzz term many IT support companies use to market themselves. So how can you tell the difference between an authentic, true-to-form Managed Service Provider versus an IT Support company with a shiny exterior but filled with all sorts of additional fees, hidden charges, and exclusions? The proof is in the nature of the agreement you set up with your provider and the process your vendor uses to ensure quality.
In this article, we’ll dive into crucial things to look for and look out for when deciphering your options for a true Managed Service Provider for your IT support.
The Proof Is In The Pudding: Agreements And Processes
Agreements: Know What You’re Signing Up For
The agreement set up with your Managed Service Provider is your bond. As with working with any vendor, having a sound agreement in writing that clearly defines the expectation of service, the responsibilities of the client, and the consequences of what happens if either party fails to do their part are critical: make sure these terms are outlined in the agreement.
The first element to look for, as mentioned in Managed Service Agreements, make sure you don’t get caught in more than a one-year agreement.
Find The Closest Exit Near You: Cancellation
Make sure you find the cancellation clause. You will have to look long and hard to find the cancellations provisions – they are often purposely hidden or even missing. It’s a non-negotiable to make sure you find this or have this added to your agreement. Be sure you know exactly what terms are needed in the agreement if you need to get out of it.
What’s Included In Your Managed Service Agreement?
This section should list clearly which services are included in the agreement, including frequency and performance standards. Think about your existing experience with IT Support companies and your expectations coming into this working relationship. If they say “Will come on site to perform tasks no more than twice a month for no longer than one hour, additional hours billed separately.” – Red flag. Read the fine print, especially when it comes to what exactly they say they will deliver.
What’s NOT Included In Your Agreement?
Even more important than the Included Services is the Excluded Services which explicitly state what is NOT included, i.e., what you might get billed for. The most common bait-and-switch? “Unlimited Remote Support” in Included Service and list “Onsite Support” in Excluded services – you might think you’re getting unlimited support, but in reality, you’ll be shocked to receive that bill for on-site services that would have been free if done remotely…Shoulda…woulda…coulda.
The included/excluded services section is critically important if your provider offers a ‘tiered’ service model. As mentioned in Managed Services Tiers – Part 1 and Managed Services Tiers – Part 2 the take away around “Tiers” of service: If you see Multi-Tiered Service Offerings or Multi-Level Plans – run in the opposite direction! Business owners often get pitched all the perks of the ‘gold’ plan, end of choosing the lest costly ‘bronze’ plan, and ultimately end up getting trapped a service with a myriad of surprise support bills.
The process we have in place here at Technology Associates is set up with an inclusive, monthly flat rate fee. This includes onsite and offsite support based on the number of employees and devices within your organization. This proactive, inclusive approach ensures you get the attention and level of service you need, without the concern of surprise bills and being “nickeled and dimed.”
Another critical element to look for regarding quality assurance is making sure you have a clause for non-performance. Be sure that there is a statement in your service agreement that allows you to cancel and terminate the agreement if the Managed Services provider fails to perform to reasonable standards.
In most cases, these provisions require you notify the provider that their services failed to meet expectations and give them a certain amount of time to correct the issue. If you do find yourself in this predicament with an already existing vendor, documentation is vital. Emails, certified letters, a digital “paper trail” on record showing you communicating your expectations so you can be justified in exiting an agreement.
Defining the Relationship And Process
Learning what Managed Services really means will help you understand if you are dealing with a REAL Managed Services provider or someone who is just using the phrase as a marketing tool. These are a few elements we recommend looking into with your IT support so you can eliminate excess costs, surprise costs, and move confidently forward in getting excellent service that aligns with your business goals.
Knowing what to look for in your agreement and a Managed Service Provider having a transparent process where you clearly understand what is included (and not included!) is key to deciding the right approach for your IT Support in your business.
Want to learn more about the proof in our pudding? Check out our Testimonials Section to hear more real time feedback of the work we do with our clients, as well as our Managed Service Provider guide.
Tags: IT, Our Process