5 Essential service level agreement clauses to clarify with your IT Support Providers

5 Essential service level agreement clauses to clarify with your IT Support Providers

Migrating to the cloud is easily the best option for smaller organizations that cannot afford to build and maintain their own on-premises IT infrastructures. From Dallas to Fort Worth, new IT support providers are popping up every day, and they’re not all equal. That’s why you need a technology partner that offers a subject level agreement (SLA) tailored to your needs, not theirs. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the universal constants every agreement should cover:

#1. Service Definition

An itemized list of service details forms the foundation of any ironclad SLA. A proper service definition includes a thorough outline of the service, any limitations, the costs, and any internal processes needed to provide and maintain the service. Definition must also cover how the service works, what you need to do to obtain it, and any prerequisites (such as technical requirements and approvals).

#2. Data Confidentiality

Data confidentiality is one of the leading concerns that business leaders have when migrating to the cloud, especially when they're subject to industry-specific compliance regulations like HIPAA or PCI-DSS. You'll need to confirm your IT or cloud provider complies with these frameworks, especially if you'll be using public cloud services, which often use your data outside of the scope of what many feel is justified. You’ll need to ensure that any SLA you sign clearly states which security measures are in place to protect your data while it’s in your provider’s care.

#3. Customer Obligations

An SLA is not a one-way street; your participation is also vital to the success of your client-vendor relationship. You can’t reasonably expect the provider to deal with problems when they don’t even know they exist. That’s why the agreement should also include a detailed overview of your responsibilities, such as when you need to pay, whom you need to contact for support, and which employees will be tasked with managing the account.

#4. Support Response Times

Every business leader knows how expensive extended periods of downtime are, which is why one of the most important commitments of any service provider is their response and resolution time.

Your agreement should clearly state a maximum response time from the moment you open a support ticket and a maximum resolution time depending on the nature of the issue. As such, agreements generally provide a breakdown of resolution times based on the scope and severity of the problem (e.g., a company-wide downtime event requires a quicker response than an issue on a single computer).

Finally, if you’re using any cloud-based services, you’ll also need to ensure that the SLA states a minimum service uptime, which is typically measured in nines. For example, an uptime of three nines (99.9%) equals no more than 43 minutes of downtime every 30 days.

#5. Exit Strategy

Managed IT services providers offer a subscription-based service, and that means you need to be clear on two key things. First, you’ll need to know how frequently your SLA will be revised and how much warning you’ll have. Second, it should clearly stipulate the terms and procedures for cancelling your partnership.

These critical factors may further be broken down to include things like the secure erasure of any confidential business data in the care of your provider. While you’ll want to be looking at any IT support provider with a long-term partnership in mind, it’s still crucial that you enter the contract being fully aware of the obligations of both parties when it comes to terminating your partnership.

Here at Qoverage, we believe your IT should function flawlessly. That’s why we offer support services and hosted solutions you can depend on to run your business. If you’re ready to enjoy the service your organization deserves, give us a call today.