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The Ultimate Guide to Success in Managed IT Services

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6 Points Your MSP Service Level Agreement Should Cover

Posted September 25, 2013by Rob Autor

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A strong and comprehensive service-level agreement (SLA) is essential to the health of your MSP.  A well-written one can protect your MSP from legal action, misunderstandings, and client dissatisfaction.  A poorly-crafted one can expose you to costly complaints and lawsuits down the road. 


Here are six points that all good SLAs should cover:

  1. Definition of Services
    • List the services you provide
    • Offer a detailed definition of each service
  1. Performance Measurement
    • Define the metrics used to quantify and report service levels
    • Identify which party (you, your customer or a neutral third party) will do the quantifying
  1. Problem Management
    • Tell customers how to report problems
    • Set expectations as to time frame of your response – be sure to focus on response times, not resolution times, as only response time is within your control
    • Define different severity levels for problems and identify response time in each case
    • Identify who defines the severity level of problems (ideally this should be you)
  1. Warranties and Remedies
    • Legal fine points like indemnification policies, exclusions and handling third-party claims
    • Be sure to clearly spell out exactly what happens if you fail to meet your obligations, otherwise the client or a judge will ultimately make that decision for you 
  1. Customer Duties
    • Details the customer’s responsibilities under the terms of your agreement
  1. Termination
    • Describe the circumstances under which you or your customer are able to end the relationship, usually failure by you or your client to meet obligations defined in the SLA or the passage of a renewal date
    • Specify proper termination procedure, usually advance written notification 

Before starting the SLA process at any level, be sure to invest some serious time in a comprehensive and brutally honest self-appraisal of your company’s capabilities.  Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and closely examine the operational procedures you use to deliver every service you provide.  Ideally, study historical data to determine response times and problem areas.  This will help you determine what you can realistically commit to in your SLA.

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Rob is an operations and technology management wiz with a range of experience at companies like Sallie Mae, Price Waterhouse and driving superior service quality at Continuum’s network operations center (NOC) and Help Desk. When he was a kid, Rob wanted to be a professional tennis player.

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