What you should look for before signing an IT support and services agreement

Maybe we are shooting ourselves in the foot here since providing IT support services is kind of our bread and butter. But we believe in having integrity as an important aspect of customer service. Now that we have stopped tooting our own horns, we apologize. We are talking about you and the standard IT services that should be in an IT support service agreement that you are signing with your new IT support and services provider. They have to be standard after all and you do not want to be in a situation where you assumed something obvious but it was never written on paper. Your IT support provider may refuse to provide that service unless you pay them more, so to avoid such situations here is a rough guide on services that should be there.

Remote IT support

There has to be remote IT support as part of your IT services contract. If not, what is the point? And it should be unlimited which is imperative for your operation. After all, if your team's issue can be resolved remotely immediately, it should be. Remote desktop IT support is relatively simple and easier for a support team and IT company to orchestrate. What we mean is, it should obviously be in the contract, but do pay mind to it and ensure it was not left out.

Response time

This should be made clear from the start and must be written in the contract if possible. From the moment an IT support email or ticket is sent out, how long before you get a response? One hour, two hours or four hours? Expectations must be managed for the ease of mind on both ends of the contract. After all, if your office is located on the opposite side of the metropolitan area, you must be realistic in response time for on-site IT support. But remote IT support should be fixed. Some companies are able to provide a better response time within office hours and a slower response time outside office hours. Try to stay away from those who say "one hour or less". That is not realistic. That is just a plain lie.

On-Site support hours

Almost every IT managed service provider will calculate and charge for their man-hours or boots on the ground hours. After all, it costs a lot to hire people and send them over. In many cases what you will encounter is a fixed number of hours in your IT support package. Maybe you get twenty hours of IT support on-site per year, now you have to make sure how these hours are being deducted. Some may charge a two-hour minimum even if an issue is resolved quickly. So we always recommend you know the fine print and make sure to get as much work done in two hours before releasing these technicians.

Hardware procurement

Many outsourced IT companies provide this as a service. This means that they shop on your behalf at no additional cost to you. In many cases, they are able to partner with distributors and enjoy a tiny margin with every purchase you make at no extra retail cost to you. It is having your cake and eating it too. Great IT support providers pride themselves at providing this as a customer service. And the really good ones are constantly trying to convince you not to spend too much on something you do not need. We do that. Plugging ourselves shamelessly again. They also take responsibility for managing the warranty of the device on your behalf so that is always a plus. Do take note that having them come down and assist is still going to cost you support hours. So best buy something that comes with on-site service support like laptops from Lenovo, that way your IT support provider can call on their technicians to come down to your office and provide IT support services.

NDA - non-disclosure agreement

Now not many people realize this but you must get your IT support company to sign off an NDA written by your organization. It is a must. After all, trust is such a loose term. Putting pen to paper gives us all peace of mind.

Your IT outsourced service provider will have unlimited access to all of your data, servers, files, emails and what have you. So you need to protect yourself and most IT support companies, like ourselves, will remind our clients of our willingness to sign an NDA with them. We usually don't even read them, we just sign it. Because we trust that our clients trust us.

In fact, you must demand this of them. An IT support and services agreement or contract does not need to have a non-disclosure clause in them, mainly because it is not their property after all so having that clause would not benefit anyone. It is up to you and your organization to present them with the NDA to endorse. Very important.

Great, so we hope you understand a few of your rights and the common industry practice when it comes to IT support and services agreements and what you should be looking out for. And as usual, we hope you enjoyed reading and we love you all.

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