Managed Services Agreement

Businesses are continually focused on the following three key objectives in supporting their own futures:

  1. Optimizing revenue opportunities;
  2. Minimizing their capital and operating expenditures; and
  3. Maximizing returns on their investments.

Therefore aligning with these objectives and this focus is what can be done to improve your company’s positioning in the context of the competition and your markets as a whole.  This can range from your marketing mix (product and pricing considerations, promotional activities, and additional distribution channels) to improving business efficiencies to improving the skill level of your staff to upgrading your businesses infrastructure.

All these moving parts can be related back to how they support these key objectives. In today’s article we have chosen to examine how an IT Services Provider (ITSP) can support these objectives through Managed Services Agreements (MSA) in overseeing your business planning process and business infrastructure. We are going to discuss the following as to how this relates to your IT infrastructure servicing for your business:

  • What is an MSA;
  • Components of a MSA’s; and
  • What are the benefits of MSA’s?

What is an MSA (Managed Services Agreement)?

MSA is a collaborative agreement between you and your ITSP that describes the level of IT service offered to your business and documents the understanding regarding the following in relation to your IT infrastructure:

  • Responsibilities;
  • Priorities;
  • Operation;
  • Guarantees;
  • Availability;
  • Performance;
  • Response; and
  • Resolution.

A Managed Services Agreement offers businesses the flexibility of partnering with ITSP to manage all aspects of their information technology resources (software and hardware) and processes for a fixed monthly fee.

Components of a MSA’s

With an MSA consideration needs to be given to the following:

  1. Terms of the agreement as to what is provided and how it will be supported;
  2. Termination clause; and
  3. Fees and payment schedule.

In taking this further the terms of agreement should also clearly detail what services, equipment and software applications are included, what is excluded from support, and document the minimum standards the environment must meet in order to qualify for services.

The MSA should identify prioritization processes, response times, a definition of support tiers and a service desk escalation process.

What are the benefits of MSA’s?

Relating this back to the earlier purposes identified, what are the benefits to your business of an Managed Services Agreement?

  • Reduction in the total cost of ownership – the critical technical support required to maximize infrastructure speed, performance, and stability.
  • Fixed IT Management and Support Costs – fixed IT costs, allowing for accurate budgeting. Services are structured on a per device basis, allowing for pricing transparency and accurate growth forecasting.
  • Guaranteed Service Levels – guaranteed response times and priority onsite support to ensure IT infrastructure is operating at maximum performance at all times.
  • Continuing Infrastructure Assessment and Auditing – initial and on-going IT infrastructure audits. These audits provide information about your technology based resources utilized within your business and highlights any potential risks or compliance issues.
  • Proactive Monitoring and Servicing – proactive monitoring and servicing of your businesses IT infrastructure allows you to focus on key strategic issues for your business.
  • Professional Infrastructure Management – ensures that your businesses IT infrastructure are online and performing at peak performance levels when needed and that they are being proactively managed by a professional and qualified technology partners.
  • Third Party Technical Support Management – as a trusted business partner, ITSP assumes the role of in-house technical support and will directly interface to third party technology providers to co-ordinate services and act as a single point of contact for the resolution of any technological related issue that is covered in the MSA.
  • Dedicated Helpdesk – provides a single point of contact for IT infrastructure support needs and is available by providing services that suit the time frame that are important to your day-to-day operations.
  • Proactive Partnership – under this arrangement you are provided with a dedicated IT resource along with semi-annual reviews of your businesses IT infrastructure based upon current and future technology utilization, risks and future requirements.  The focus is to ensure less unproductive downtime supporting continuity, stability and efficiency for your business into the future

Concluding Remarks

With this we believe that it is important to have a discussion with your ITSP to ensure what is covered and what is not covered under your arrangement.  We believe that the advantage of an MSA is that is that it supports the following:

  1. Quantifying how you are being supported each and every day from infrastructure through to support;
  2. It quantifies your cost in a fixed fee schedule that allows you understand the impact of growth and expansion for your business; and
  3. Most importantly allows you to focus on your businesses future.
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