The terms of a managed IT service contract can tell us a lot about the intent and delivery of the relationship before working with a managed IT provider. Asking a few questions about the terms of the managed IT service provider's contract upfront will certainly help save you some hassle as you narrow down your choices.
How long is the initial term?
The length of the initial term often varies from 1 year to 3 years. When it comes to terms longer than 1 year, the managed IT services company should be able to give you a very clear and valuable reason they are asking for a longer commitment. This is an establishment of a business partnership, not a hold you hostage event. Be sure they are not using a longer-term to protect themselves because they do not know what they are getting into.
Are the promised deliverables written into the contract or agreement?
Be sure the deliverables in the document match the deliverables from the proposal. This one is pretty straight forward but promises on the proposal need to be on the contract or agreement as well.
What is the hassle-free guarantee?
If the deliverables are not met, do you have a clear and easy out? Is there simple written language that puts you as the client in control for non-performance by the managed IT provider? Do not assume the managed IT provider will just let you out. On more than one occasion we have seen other managed IT providers deploy their legal teams, preventing companies from leaving, even after a cyberattack.
Is this a contract or agreement?
There are two kinds of documents used by managed IT services providers. The first is a contract. A legally binding document that articulates the agreed-upon services to be delivered for a set price over a set term. The second is an agreement. The written establishment of a business partnership with clear expectations of who is doing what for a set price over a set term.
Asking these questions early in the evaluation process can help you decide if you have the managed IT partner you are looking for. For some more guidance, download our e-book: 5 Questions to Ask When You Are Evaluating an IT Managed Service Company.