Have you ever wondered what services are covered by your IT provider? Do you know what services they can perform and which must be outsourced? The answers are in your IT provider's contract.
Contracts should clearly outline your IT provider's responsibilities, but sometimes, contracts are not as straightforward as we would like. Because every IT provider's contract and scope of service differ, breaking down service specifics is difficult.
Instead, we've gathered some questions you can use to clarify an IT provider contract. Clarifying contracts can help avoid confusion and frustration regarding service expectations. You will know which services your provider covers versus thosethey do not.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients. During that time, it has helped its clients build IT strategies and utilize technology to their advantage.
By the end of this article, you will learn several questions to help you better understand your IT provider contract and scope of service.
10 Questions to identify your IT needs
Before you address the contract, you must know what your business needs from an IT provider.
Ask yourself and your leadership team the following questions:
- What are our expectations for an IT provider?
- What hours do we need the provider available?
- What kind of help do we need regarding our IT system?
- Do we need someone to help answer questions, fix issues, and maintain our IT equipment?
- Are we looking for help with IT strategy?
- Do we need assistance with upcoming IT projects?
- Are we looking for basic or in-depth IT security?
- What IT security tools and services are we seeking?
- Do we need a compliance expert?
- If applicable, what kinds of IT tools and services do we need to stay within our industry's IT compliance standards?
Understanding your company's IT needs can help you narrow down what you should look for in an IT provider. Otherwise, you may sign a provider only to realize that they do not meet your technology goals or needs.
You can also ask several questions regarding potential IT providers' history, skills, and resources to ensure they are both a service and culture fit for your company.
3 Tips for interpreting your IT provider contract
1. Ask questions before signing the contract
During your sales conversation, ask questions about the provider, their history, skills, and available services. If any of the areas of the contract seem vague, ask for clarification.
The contract should clearly outline what services are offered.
The provider’s sales representative should be able to answer your questions to help you better understand and fine-tune your contract.
2. Ask about the scope of services
An IT provider will generally offer one, two, or all three of the specialties listed below. Before signing with a provider, clarify which service branch(es) it focuses on.
IT Support & Management
IT services are "support, proactive maintenance, and strategy." Most IT providers will focus on IT Support & Management, which focuses on creating a positive user experience.
IT Support & Management includes help desk access and on-site technician visits if things cannot be fixed remotely. In addition, they help resolve questions about access issues, program errors, etc.
Field technicians are typically reserved for proactive maintenance and IT project work.
The provider's vCIOs (Virtual Chief Information Officers) handle IT strategy. They help clients achieve their IT goals and address various planned IT projects by bridging the gap between business and technology.
IT projects may include new or upgraded hardware or software, procurement, etc.
IT Security is the ongoing task of assisting a business with risk management.
They should follow recognized and proven security frameworks such as CIS controls or the NIST framework. These guidelines help IT Security providers deliver security practices that help reduce client risks.
IT security ranges in depth and expertise. For example, many IT providers will offer email filtering tools for IT security, but they may not provide more specialized services like penetration testing.
Clarify with your provider what kind of security services and tools they offer.
Depending on the industry, a company may have regulatory or compliance requirements.
A provider offering IT compliance services must be familiar with relevant compliance standards. This specialized knowledge is necessary to help clients apply and maintain compliance.
3. Ask about additional services or partnerships
You can ask about additional offerings and fees if the provider's basic package does not meet your needs.
For example, updating your entire IT system would be an IT project. Does your provider perform IT projects? If so, what are the additional costs, if any? Do their process and project timeframe meet your expectations?
In addition, if a provider does not offer a particular service, they will recommend a service partner. For instance, if your IT provider is not equipped to serve as a SOC, it can recommend a trusted SOC provider if you want a SOC and SIEM service.
Next steps in understanding your IT provider's services
IT providers are as varied as the clients they serve. In addition to managed IT service offerings, IT providers may offer additional specialized services, IT projects, or service packages.
Before interviewing potential IT providers, understand your company's IT needs and goals. This will help you weed out providers that cannot meet your needs. If you only have a vague idea of what you want, you may find yourself ill-matched.
Once you receive a potential contract, be sure to:
- Ask the sales representative clarifying questions.
- Inquire about the scope of services offered.
- Clarify additional service packages or service partner recommendations.
Answering these questions before signing the contract will help avoid future service confusion and frustration.
If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.
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