3 Questions You Need To Ask About Your Managed Services Contract Before You Sign
You have many options when searching for the best managed services IT provider for your company. Finding the right fit can be overwhelming and stressful. Not to mention costly if you make the wrong choice.
Here are three questions you should ask prospective tech companies before signing on the dotted line.
1. What Is Included (And Excluded) In The Managed Services Agreement?
Have you ever signed up for a monthly service only to find out that you don’t get access to certain features with the plan you purchased? While you might think all managed services contracts are made equal, they certainly are not.
An IT contract can be tailored to your business’s needs and can include a number of services, such as daily help desk support, scheduled maintenance, network and systems monitoring, backups and disaster recovery, and more. Some of these ongoing tasks are critical for keeping your organization’s cyber security measures in check.
Some managed services agreements cover existing infrastructure and system maintenance. However, major upgrades to new workstations, servers, software and hardware are often not covered under the contract. When committing to a monthly fixed-fee agreement and creating an IT budget, you should still allocate some funds for possible hardware or software upgrades. You can use this managed services pricing calculator to estimate how much managed services will cost for your organization.
2. What Is The Guaranteed Response Time For During And After Business Hours?
There’s nothing worse than feeling stranded by your IT team when you have an urgent technology issue. You want a provider that is available when you need support and more importantly, who responds promptly based on the urgency of the issue. Make sure the contract details the provider’s business hours and guaranteed response times.
Some organizations are open outside of regular business hours and need IT support at odd times. Other organizations only need assistance between 8 AM – 5 PM ET. 24/7 IT support can be a costly add on. Make sure your business really needs it before signing up.
Location will determine how quickly someone can be onsite if an issue requires a a technician’s physical presence. While most issues can be handled remotely, you may want to consider a local company rather than a global one in case you need quick onsite assistance.
Here are a few questions you need to ask about support response times:
- Are there different response times for during and after business hours?
- Are their different response times for urgent and non-urgent tickets?
- How are service tickets prioritized?
- Can they provide onsite support if necessary?
Ask your potential IT provider about the process for contacting support. They might have a webpage for contacting their helpdesk, or they might ask that you connect directly with your favorite IT person via mobile phone or email. Understanding the most efficient processes for contacting support will ensure you get the best response time results based on the issue and your needs.
3. Could You Be Limited By Your Provider?
The wrong managed services provider can severely limit your organization’s technology capabilities.
Many organizations already have a slew of hardware and software in place before initiating a managed services agreement. However, certain IT providers will only work with specific brands of hardware and software. For instance, if you have Dell equipment and you sign up with a managed services provider that does not support Dell, the provider may require you to purchase all new equipment before they can work with you. Obviously, there can be a costly downside to using certain IT providers.
The more knowledgeable the provider, the more technologies they should be able to support. You do not want a managed service provider who has a limited knowledge base and only provides solutions that force your business to fit those limited technologies.
The contract will state the technologies that your provider will work with. For example, Gross Mendelsohn’s Technology Solutions Group has active partnerships with Dell, WatchGuard, Microsoft and Sage. Our expertise includes but is not limited to Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Sage 300Cloud and Sage CRM solutions.
While you should examine the contract for the technologies the potential provider supports, it is critical that you do your research on the provider before getting to that step. Ask them for their technology credentials and partnerships. Get a list of referrals and call every one of them. Do some online research to see what people have to say about their services.
Researching prospective IT providers upfront will help point you to the provider that’s right for you. After all, you’ll rely on your IT provider to keep your organization’s technology humming and safe. It’s important to work with someone you trust.
There’s a lot at stake when signing on the dotted line. Contact our team here or call us at 410.685.5512 to discover the red flags hidden in your managed services contract.
About April Walsh
April implements and supports our clients’ software solutions and network infrastructure. She specializes in Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office and Office 365, and antivirus software. There is nothing more rewarding for April than to have a client who fully trusts her with their network and data. If you like ice cream, April is your go-to. Armed with her own ice cream maker, she even created her own recipe for German chocolate cake gelato.