You certainly shouldn’t move ahead with an IT support provider before signing a Service Level Agreement (SLA), but you also need to make sure the agreement you come to suits your needs down to the ground. It’s not uncommon for less scrupulous companies to present terms that are less than advantageous for the businesses that employ their services.
This is obviously something that you’ll want to avoid, especially since those limitations tend to show themselves most clearly during an IT crisis. To see that you’re protected, look for the following four things in your SLA.
- What’s Included
As you might imagine, the first thing to look at is what your SLA covers. It’s important to make sure everything is spelled out clearly, with no vague service offerings that could see you lacking proper support. As well as looking at the IT services that can be provided, look at what kinds of software and hardware will be covered. You should also consider how many support tiers are available. If there’s only one, you might want to walk away.
- What’s Excluded
It’s perfectly normal for IT support providers to exclude certain services, but you should know what they are before you move ahead. For example, you might find that IT issues related to water damage, fire damage, theft, or unauthorised modifications are not covered. Knowing what is and isn’t covered lets you put together contingency plans to cover anything outside of your SLA.
- What Timeframes You’ll Enjoy
Probably the most important things to consider are response times and resolution times. Response times refer to how long it will take for the support provider to acknowledge the issue and start working to fix it; resolution time is how long it will generally take for issues to be put right. Of course, resolution times can vary, so look for SLAs that breakdown resolution times according to varying levels of severity or priority.
- What Costs You’ll Face
Finally, make sure you get down in writing exactly what your costs are going to be. You should be given an exact figure for each month, as well as the associated costs that might not be included in your monthly plan. Your SLA should also confirm how long the current price will last and how much it can increase in the future.