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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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6 Key Elements to Include in Your SLA - Pt 2: Coach's Corner Episode 4

Posted December 22, 2014by Ray Vrabel

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Bring it in, team. We're continuing our phenomenal managed IT services season with Continuum Coach's Corner, an educational video series designed to teach MSPs the business strategies and best practices needed to succeed in the ever-changing IT world. Huddle up with me, Coach Raymond Vrabel, Director of Technical Account Management at Continuum, as I map out play-by-plays to increase your revenue and profitability. In part 2 of this SLA double header, I'll give you six key components to include in your first SLA. But first, be sure to check out Part 1 here!

If you're like most managed IT service providers, your first love is technology, not law. As a result, you may look to speed through the process of creating your first SLA in as little time as possible. But that could end up costing you big bucks in the end. Let me, Coach Ray, help you keep those big bucks in your pocket. 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Video Transcription:

Hello and welcome to Part 2 of SLAs For Managed Service Providers. My name is Raymond Vrabel. I'm director of technical account management here at Continuum. And today I want to talk to you about what to include in your SLA. We're going to start with a Scope of Services. You want to begin by defining exactly what products and services you're offering with a detailed description of each one. Before writing these, take the time to conduct an honest and comprehensive appraisal of your capabilities. List out all your strengths and weaknesses, identify how many technicians you can allocate to support a given product. Examine your average response times for your client's tickets in your PSA.

Next, we'll look at Performance Measurement. Not surprisingly maintaining compliance within an SLA hinges on measuring your service levels. This section of the contract defines which matrix you will use to quantify and report on service levels, as well as whether you or your customer or even a third party in some cases will conduct a reporting.

Now let's take a look at Problem Management. This is where you'll want to tell customers how to report the problems and also establish how quickly you respond to them. Keep in mind that in the eyes of your customer, every technical problem can seem like an urgent issue when in reality there's a very big difference between things like performance issues and a total server crash. As such your SLA should distinguish between varying levels of severity for different types of problems and indicate your response times for each one of these problem types.

That brings us to Warranties and Remedies. This section deals largely with legal fine points like Indemnification Policies, Exclusions and details for handling Third Party Clients. The portion that addresses the remedies is absolutely vital. If your SLA doesn't spell out exactly what happens if you fail to meet your obligations the client or even a judge can ultimately make that choice for you. Needless to say, you'll be unhappy with the decision they reach in such cases.

Customer Duties. Fulfilling your commitments to a client is a two-way street. That is it requires cooperation from both parties. You can't repair a hardware problem without access to your customer's office, can you? This section of the contract should detail your customer's responsibilities under the terms of your agreement with them.

And finally that brings us to termination. This is where you describe the circumstances under which you or your customer can end your relationship. These could include failure by your or your client to meet the duties defined in the SLA or a passage of a monthly, annual renewal date. You should specify the proper termination procedure which usually includes advance written notification of some kind.

Preparing an effect Service Level Agreement is as essential to the long term success of any MSP practice as designing service offerings, or deploying remote management software. Fortunately while writing an SLA certainly does take some time and effort, it does not have to be painful. By following the recommendations in this guide any MSP can create a document that can help build a strong and lasting relationship with your clients.

Thank you for tuning in to the Continuum Coaches Corner. If you have any tips you'd like to share be sure to log on at Collaborate, which is our online community, and share them with all your peers. And also be sure to subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest business practices or find new ways we can help you improve your business. I'll see you next time. Thank you.

 

Looking for more SLA guidance?

Ray Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives, and also manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team, which supports over 3,500 partners worldwide. Prior to Continuum, Ray joined Zenith Infotech in 2005 and held several positions including Service Desk Manager, Sr. Technical Account Manager and Sr. Manager of Service Operations. He currently has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in Managed Services, Disaster Recovery, and Cloud Solutions. Prior to Continuum and Zenith, Ray worked at ANH Refractories, a world-class provider of Refractories products, in their Service Desk Department supporting 53 locations and 1,500 employees. Ray also worked for a startup venture at Body Media a pioneer in wearable body monitoring systems as a technical lead in their Technical Customer Support Department. Ray holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Technology Support and Training from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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