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Introducing the Service Level Agreement

Introducing the Service Level Agreement

Every business will face a major technology problem at one time or another. Whether it is because your server just decided to quit on you, or you have received a not-so-friendly worded letter telling you to stop using a piece of software, managing technology for a whole organization is difficult. In cases like this, partnering with a managed service provider can be a real benefit. If you are going to choose to outsource some or all of your IT management to a provider, you will likely have to sign a service level agreement (SLA). Today, we look at the purpose of a SLA and how it works to benefit both parties of the agreement.

What is an SLA
The service level agreement is a written understanding. It outlines the expectations of both parties. Typically, the agreement is created by the service provider and is intended to outline the terms of service.

An MSP’s SLA will cover two major factors:

  1. Uptime/Downtime - Every MSP will offer its core services that include remote network monitoring and backup and recovery. With these two services carried out by professional IT technicians almost any organization can keep downtime to a minimum. The language in the SLA will speak to the percentage of downtime your provider will guarantee.
  2. Response Time - This is the measure of how much time a provider has before they need to be on point. If you have an issue, most of the time, the quicker the response time, the more expensive the service is going to be. Your SLA will outline the achievable expectation that will have to be met.

Expectations
Beyond that, the SLA will establish is a description of the service that has been contracted. The SLA will outline the specifics of what you can expect in the entirety of your business relationship. Variables like how many user/endpoints will be managed and maintained should be clearly outlined in detail so there is no ambiguity in the expectations of what is covered under the agreement and what isn’t.

Penalties
The SLA will have language that sets up a scenario when the service provider doesn’t meet the expectations of the agreement, and vice versa. Typically, if a service provider fails to meet the terms of the agreement, complimentary service will be offered. Meanwhile, if the customer doesn’t meet their end, a normal SLA will protect the service provider and allow them void and walk away from the agreement.

Costs
The cost of doing business will be outlined thoroughly. Since most MSPs can’t prosper unless their clients do, it makes the cost decision pretty agreeable, in person, and on paper. It basically serves to outline the financial and time expectations that each party is agreeing to provide one another.

Your SLA Is Important
Business can be very stressful, and if you don’t get what you are paying for, you can really put your whole organization in a bind. When outsourcing your IT management, you have to know that your provider is going to live up to their end of any agreement you have with them. So while there are MSPs out there that don’t follow their SLA to a T, not doing so is a major disservice to their clients, in our view. Have you had problems with your IT provider in the past and want someone to stop giving excuses and do better? Our IT professionals understand. Call us today at (703) 821-8200 and see how we can provide you with valuable and affordable services designed to improve business.

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