Managed IT Services Terms to Consider for Your Next Agreement
Technology planning is a critical component of any business model, big or small. It not only involves the physical equipment needed for employees or overall technology infrastructure, but the support, training, and growth over time.
This is a lot for a single IT director or department to handle, and many companies do not even have the budget or capacity for an internal IT employee. Because of this and the ever-evolving realm of technology, numerous enterprises have successfully utilized managed IT services or managed IT services providers (or MSPs).
What Are Managed IT Services?
MSPs are larger technology-centered companies hired by businesses to manage and deliver IT services and support. Their IT teams are made up of technology experts who understand the newest technology trends and know how to configure tech systems and structures.
In addition, MSPs offer a vast selection of services, including the following:
- Malware and anti-virus software.
- Firewall security.
- Network set up throughout an office building.
- Virtual private network or VPN configuration for enhanced privacy or data security.
- Physical office technology (large-scale printers, copy machines, etc. PLUS potential ongoing maintenance and supply support).
- Physical employee technology (laptops, tablets, desktops, keyboards, digital cameras, etc. PLUS potential ongoing maintenance and supply support).
- Help desk employee support services.
- Company cloud-based platforms and online organizational structures.
- Cloud-based data storage.
- Wi-Fi phone services.
MSP services have a ton of financial benefits for a company in the short and long-term as well, such as the following:
- In-house IT departments are not bogged down with repetitive tasks such as trouble-shooting technology issues with staff or buying equipment.
- In-house IT departments might not be a reality for some businesses, so outsourcing services keeps personnel costs in check and saves critical time for HR recruiting.
- Outsourcing services reduces the risk of technology expertise leaving a company or abandoning a project mid-way, efficiently moving things forward.
- Training and IT support lets employees understand and respect company technology equipment better, thus reducing the risk of broken or misused items that need to be replaced.
- Services grow with a company saving time and effort from having to find new services.
- Tech experts can advise on overall infrastructure and planning, which helps business owners make smarter decisions.
- Tech experts understand the newest and best technology options on the market, keeping businesses modern and competitive.
- Tech experts will give specific suggestions to that business, ensuring the best tools are used for the job.
- The software can run technology data and analyze results, all contributing to larger company budgets, internal efficiencies, and external customer experiences.
- Correct systems are set up from the beginning and can be expanded upon vs. reinventing the wheel.
What to Expect in a Managed IT Services Agreement
A managed IT services agreement is a contract. It’s a contract that defines the services included, the support provided, and the payment expected by an MSP.
These contracts are legally binding, so it’s recommended that businesses utilize their legal team’s services or general counsel to understand the ins and outs.
Contracts are designed to protect both the service provider and receiver, so there is a lengthy list of details that can be included:
- Terms of agreement
- Legalities such as a termination clause
- Liability notes
- Payment schedule and approved forms of payment
- Service obligation (typically defined in terms of time or coverage hours, including after-hours support)
- Equipment services
- Included software and/or hardware
- How services will be delivered
- Response expectations and timeliness
Managed IT services agreements also usually explain the current state of technology at a company and a plan for where it wants to go in the future. This is called “establishing a baseline environment,” and sometimes, there are even pre-requisites a company must meet before a contract is solidified. There can also be a Priorities section to a contract to add a level of transparency and guidance to support services.
Contracts should be referenced throughout the lifetime of the agreement on both the provider’s end and on the side of the services received. It’s common for contracts to be renegotiated or amendments included.
Business owners should also note a start and end date if applicable, especially concerning a new payment and schedule being added to the overall financial responsibilities of a company.
How to Qualify and Select an MSP
Outsourcing help and services can be a tough decision for business owners, and not all MSPs are created equal.
Business owners genuinely need to understand (1) what their technology needs are and (2) how technology will impact and affect their larger business plan. Remember, this doesn´t just include physical technology devices or internet and phone networks. Technology impacts a business in multiple ways, so systems, processes, platforms, etc., all need to be considered to make the best MSP choice.
Having a technology budget is another significant component in selecting an MSP. Some businesses might need to start small and grow over time, while others can afford to devote a considerable chunk of their budget to a new technology system and services initiative.
It’s recommended that business owners take their time and research the MSPs in their area. Talking to similar business owners and receiving personal recommendations are always helpful, as is referencing online reviews and ratings. MSP websites should give business owners a level of concrete information, including pricing structure and services available. They may even have demos or online videos.
However, the best-recommended step is to talk to a representative of the MSP, and in-person is even better. A high-quality MSP will want to talk and really understand the needs of a business. They might ask as many questions as the business owner and will genuinely want to understand and help improve the existing setup.
If your Houston business is ready to take that step, talk to an MSP representative today. Contact the team at Stargel Office Solutions. We will be happy to discuss your options.