It used to be that many managed service providers—especially those targeting SMBs—were reluctant to present clients with IT service-level agreements (SLAs).
These were contracts issued by corporate behemoths, and the stigma behind them was that they rarely favored the customer—an image that SMB-friendly MSPs didn’t want to create. As the industry has evolved, however, not only do these documents protect MSPs, but they provide reassurance to the client whose very business depends upon the quality and consistency the MSP provides.
“We are now in a position where it is a lot easier to sell the concept of an SLA to the end user, and it’s a lot easier to sell the concept to an MSP because of all of the protections it affords, not only to the end user, but to the MSP as well,” says Charles Weaver, president of industry association MSPAlliance and managing director at Weaver & Associates in Chico, California.
In broad terms, a well-drafted SLA establishes what the MSP’s service capabilities are, thus clarifying the customer’s expectations. “We see a lot of MSPs that get into financial trouble because they do not put any boundaries on the relationship with the client,” Weaver says. This leads to the predictable scenario of the client expecting too much: They’re paying X number of dollars per month; therefore, they want complete indemnification of their network, regardless of any modifications they have made.
See The 411 on IT Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) by Carolyn Heinze for ChannelPro.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO IT SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENTS: ALIGNING IT SERVICE TO BUSINESS NEEDS, by Andrew Hiles, is a valuable resource in developing and formalizing Service Level Agreements.