IT Service Level Agreement

Do You Really Know What You Are Paying for With Your IT Service Level Agreement?

Jan 29, 2018

It’s important not only to get the right IT company in your corner as a trusted business IT partner, but you also need to know exactly what you are getting for your money.  “Duh,” say some of you. “That’s a no-brainer.” For many, it may be, but even for many who think they know exactly what they’re getting, a badly drawn-up IT Service Level Agreement (SLA) (or none at all – merely a service order) can spell hassles down the road. Hassles that can be precluded with a proper SLA — one that outlays precisely what IT services you are getting, why, when, how, and for how much.

Either to plug holes in your own in-house IT department or as a full-time supplement or replacement for internal IT staff, managed IT services can provide a dynamic solution to the problem of having a full-time IT specialist on site. But, as with other components in your business, how do you know that the managed services investment is worthwhile?

It’s not as easy to determine as you might think. Especially if you have both an IT specialist hired on and you chose to supplement their skills with a managed services provider (MSP). While in the either/or equation you can rather easily come up with a savings versus cost analysis. However, in the alternative where you both have an MSP and a specialist hired on, it’s less clear what the cost benefits of the MSP are.

While there are a great many websites online that promise to calculate those costs for you, it’s still better to know why those numbers come up and, therefore, avoid making a mistake when it comes to deciding between hiring an MSP versus going it alone.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways to calculate how you can best maximize the value for your dollar when it comes to managed services ROI.

Quick Facts on Managed Services Providers (and what we can provide with professional IT Service Level Agreements):

  • It’s the best way to keep your technology secure and up-to-date.
  • By 2022, 62% of all organizations will run 100% of their IT in the cloud, according to a survey by BetterCloud.
  • Because of that greater responsibility on IT providers, MSPs can be there to amplify and bolster your business’s IT department.
  • You get big savings, like Your power consumption will be brought down, security risks lowered, and maintenance costs will be reduced considerably.

Which is to say that there are a great many ancillary costs to keeping everything in-house that should not be discounted when calculating your managed services ROI.

According to a survey done by CompTia, more than a third of respondents said that their everyday IT tasks are completed by people whose primary responsibility is not IT.

A lack of specialization or a potential for these people to be overwhelmed by the ever-increasing demand of IT competency could end up costing your company significantly in the long-run.

While it is hard to put a number on this (in fact, the survey points out the increasing difficulty in determining managed services ROI), it is certainly a factor worth considering when thinking about MSPs.

Our in-depth, semi-frequent technology assessments keep you productive, compliant with regulations, and doing what you do best. They also help us to best determine what IT support solutions will best work for Colorado companies like yours – towards establishing a clear and fair IT Service Level Agreement you can bank on. 

What Your IT Service Level Agreement Should Provide For 

The first—perhaps most important—thing an SLA does is tell you what (your IT company in this case) is going to do. It is a contract: the company gives you a written statement, telling you just what you can expect out of them. This is done by way of clearly defined “metrics,” measurements of performance that the provider feels firmly confident they can consistently meet and frequently exceed.

Some of the most common metrics will be measurements of uptime and speed, as well as approximations of how frequently the provider expects downtime and how long it will take to restore service. Just what is explained, and the promised performance in an SLA will vary based on the provider, but the theme is pretty consistent: their IT Service Level Agreement will tell you what IT services you’re getting and what level of quality you can expect with it.

Now, if an IT company guarantees you server uptime 98% of the time, that means 98% uptime is what you can expect. They’re making themselves accountable (as we do) for anything at 97% or below. They’re not holding themselves accountable for failing to hit 99% or 100% when they didn’t promise it. Because no one can guarantee perfection or uptime 100% of the time, managed service providers have to delineate that “margin of inability” somehow.

The good news is, though, that what IS being guaranteed is usually exceptionally good. And, if what’s being provided to you dips below that stellar-service guarantee, you have permission to give that IT service provider a piece of your mind, and expect a recompense of some kind.

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What Kinds of Metrics Should Be Monitored in an IT Service Level Agreement?

The types of SLA metrics required will depend on the services being provided. Many items can be monitored as part of an SLA, but the scheme should be kept as simple as possible to avoid confusion and excessive cost on either side. In choosing metrics, examine your operation and decide what is most important. The more complex the monitoring (and associated remedy) scheme, the less likely it is to be effective since no one will have time to properly analyze the data. When in doubt, opt for ease of collection of metric data; automated systems are best since it is unlikely that costly manual collection of metrics will be reliable.

Depending on the service, the types of metrics to monitor may include:

  • Service availability: the amount of time the service is available for use. This may be measured by time slot, with, for example, 99.5 percent availability required between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and more or less availability specified during other times. E-commerce operations typically have extremely aggressive SLAs at all times; 99.999 percent uptime is a not uncommon requirement for a site that generates millions of dollars an hour.
  • Defect rates: Counts or percentages of errors in major deliverables. Production failures such as incomplete backups and restores, coding errors/rework, and missed deadlines may be included in this category.
  • Technical quality: In outsourced application development, measurement of technical quality by commercial analysis tools that examine factors such as program size and coding defects.
  • Security: In these hyper-regulated times, application and network security breaches can be costly. Measuring controllable security measures such as anti-virus updates and patching is key in proving all reasonable preventive measures were taken, in the event of an incident (See: computer forensic analysis).
  • Business results: Increasingly, IT customers would like to incorporate business process metrics into their SLAs. Using existing key performance indicators is typically the best approach as long as the vendor’s contribution to those KPIs can be calculated.

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Amnet IT Service Level Agreements Give You Convenient, Reliable Service

Our cogent and comprehensive service level agreements are designed for total customer satisfaction. Our monthly, stable, all-inclusive billing helps you simplify your IT budgets and protects you from the spikes in expensive repairs or replacements. Also, our valued customers are able to “walk away” from their IT knowing what they’re getting, and that it is in good hands. This enables you, the business owner, to focus on your core objectives, your own customer care, and enhance the value of your business simultaneously.

Our Service Protocols Keep Companies Productive and Profitable

We don’t just focus on your IT network as a whole – we monitor, analyze, and provide specific support “vectors” for every device on your network. Our program of real-time technical support includes providing IT management and security for PCs, laptops, mobile devices, virtual private networks, servers and data centers – and more. It is through this client dedication of purpose that we’re able to provide the best IT solutions in Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder, and all along the Front Range and I-70 corridor.

So, what are you waiting for?

Our Clear and Fair IT Service Level Agreements Are Designed for Maximum Satisfaction

One of our Amnet IT specialists is standing by, ready to discuss your business IT needs, towards drawing up a workable, clear, mutually-beneficial IT service level agreement. Contact us by toll-free number at (800) 343-9019 from anywhere in Colorado, or email us by secure contact form to get started!