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VIDEO: Top 5 Things to Consider in Your SLA - Pt 1: Coach's Corner Episode 3

Posted December 4, 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 1 of this SLA double header, I'll provide the top 5 things to consider when creating your Service Level Agreement.

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:

Hi. Welcome to part one of your MSP guide to SLAs. I'm Raymond Vrabel, Director of Technical Account Management here at Continuum. 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 writing your first service level agreement, or SLA, in as little time as possible, but that could end up costing you big bucks and quite a bit in the end. A service level agreement is designed to protect you from legal action and ensure that you and your clients share common understanding of what's expected from both parties. In other words, a well-crafted SLA can help you prevent disputes from ever arising in the first place. Let's take a look at five things to consider when writing an SLA.

If it only takes you a few hours, you're doing it wrong. Preparing a high-quality SLA isn't a task you complete in one sitting. None of us here enjoy reading contracts, let alone writing them. But do yourself a favor and take the time to do the job right. If not, you're leaving yourself vulnerable and open to complaints and potential lawsuits down the road. Number two. Don't rely on templates. There's no shortage of them out there online today. And there's nothing wrong with using them as a starting point or to source your ideas. Just don't treat them as a substitute for drafting your own SLA. Using the template may help save you some time, but you can't afford to cut corners when it comes to service level agreements.

Number three. Yes, you do need a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer to assist you with SLAs will cost you money, but not hiring one will cost you much, much more in the long run. Think of procuring an SLA advice as simply one more necessary startup expense for your business, just like buying new hardware or leasing office space. Number four. An SLA is a legal document, not a sales document. Marketing collateral, case studies, and data sheets should all be used to attract new prospects. Your SLA should not. While it's tempting to promise 30-minute response times and constant up time in your SLA, committing yourself to that contractually only makes sense if you can certainly deliver. An SLA should reflect your actual capabilities, not simply what sounds good to customers.

And number five. Strive to under-promise and over-deliver. Disappointing your client can be fatal to your relationship with them, so when it comes to service levels, remember that you're better off guaranteeing too little versus too much, or at least initially. You can always strengthen your SLA later if it understates your abilities. I want to thank you for tuning in to Continuum Coach's Corner. If you have any tips to share, be sure to log onto Collaborate, your online community, and share them with your peers. Also be sure to subscribe to the blog to stay up-to-date with the latest business practices or to find new ways to help improve your business. I'll see you next time. Thank you. 


Looking for more SLA guidance?

MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]

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.

RMM 101: Must-Haves for Your IT Management Solution
MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]
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