The typical selection process for a provider uses costs, services, and reputation as the primary filters. Once you have picked a provider to move forward with, you need to execute a contract and make sure you understand the obligations for you and the provider. This step may seem obvious and hopefully you will not have to pull out the contract on a regular basis.
What is the IT Support Contract?
This contract is an agreement between you, the purchaser of outsourced IT Support and the provider of the outsourced IT Support. This is the final step that creates the legally binding obligations so knowing the details is important to the relationship. When you contract IT support, it means you hire an outside service provider to ensure the tech-aspects of your business keep running smoothly. It should also clearly define who owns the risk when issues such as data loss, viruses, hardware failure etc… occur.
If you sign a contract without fully understanding who is responsible and who owns the risk, you may be unpleasantly surprised when issues occur in the future.
Understanding Who Owns the Risk
Consider these questions that relate to risk with your IT environment:
- If you have a recurring issue (network slowness, problems printing, etc…) does it result in increased revenue for the provider?
- If you have a data loss, either accidental or malicious, do you have to pay the provider to restore the data? Who owns the ability to restore the data and what happens if they can not restore the data?
- If you have to deploy new laptops do you have to pay the provider for the deployment?
- If you get a virus or malware on your network, will the provider bill you for removing it?
- If things are running smoothly, does the provider make less money?
Understanding the answers to questions like these will give you a clear picture of who owns the risk for maintaining your technical environment. If your goal is to have a smoothly running environment with as few issues as possible, the contract should incent the provider to achieve that goal. Any time the provider is paid extra to “put out a fire” or “respond to an issue” or “install something new” it creates a conflict of interest with that goal. If issues, problems, and upgrades create revenue for the provider, they are incented to have issues, problems, and upgrades. If a smoothly running environment means less profitability, they are not incented to have a smoothly running environment.
While the details will vary across providers and contracts, some of the usual things to review include:
- What is covered: This section details the services, software, and hardware maintained by your IT support provider. Look for restrictions related to: age and warranty, third party software or hardware vendors, location or time of day, often evening and weekend support is not included.
- Exclusions: Specifically ask “What will cause you to send me a bill for services outside of this contract?” Listen to this answer and look for it to be memorialized in the text of the contract. If they have not put it in writing, there is most likely a reason. Understand what scenarios or technology aren’t covered in the contract. For example, if your team member spills coffee on a brand new laptop, or gets a virus that deletes data these may not be covered. What happens if they need support at 2am to meet a deadline? How about 2pm on a weekend afternoon? While you will most likely receive support for these issues, you may have to pay extra for this support.
- Activities covered: This details the work the support provider will do to maintain your technology. Some of the things include are hours of support, hardware supported, team members supported, software updates, backup system testing, checking security software, and more. You should have a clear picture of the scope of services and not have to assume that things are covered.
What Does the Contract Require from You?
When you are reading the IT support contract, you need to understand you have specific responsibilities, too, to uphold the contract on your end. Some of these typically include:
- Paying on time
- Maintaining warranty coverage on critical hardware
- Maintaining support agreements with third party software or hardware vendors
- Agreeing to maintain minimum hardware specifications
- Being available to communicate on a timely basis
- Following a process for approval for system changes
- Having a designated IT contact person on staff
- These things vary from one provider to another, but these are some of the responsibilities the company may require from you.
Getting the Right IT Contract for You
Since there are so many IT contract options to consider, getting one that meets your needs may seem like a daunting task. However, when you work with a reputable service provider, you will find the process of getting the right contract isn’t as challenging as it may seem. They can help you evaluate your business needs and determine your goals for growth. With this information, you can get a contract that addresses your business needs now and what they will be in the future.
Are you searching for Kansas City managed IT services? Contact The Purple Guys today for friendly, reliable support.