— August 31, 2017
If you’re looking to find a new managed service provider to handle your IT support, there are some things you should consider in any contract you currently have in place. We discussed this in an earlier blog post 3 Things to Look for in an IT Service Contract.
1. What Happens to Your Data and Software?
Given the above about equipment, what happens to the data on that equipment? Are you required by the outgoing service provider to pay a fee for retrieval and reinstallation of your data to the new provider? You should own your data, but getting it back may not be easy or inexpensive if the terms of the contract are not clear.
What about the software you’ve been using or purchased during the term of the contract? Who has the license for it? For example, if you’ve purchased licenses for office productivity software (software-as-a-service—SaaS), are those licenses in your company’s name or the service provider’s? If the latter, will those licenses be transferred to you and at what cost?
Did the IT technical support vendor provide any custom programming for you? For example, what if you needed software to integrate your accounting software with your project management software and the vendor created that for you. Who owns that programming at the end of the agreement? Or will you have to continue to pay (such as a lease) for using that software after you’ve changed to a new provider? Or will they just take it off completely and you’re left with nothing integrating two critical software systems?
2. Is the Contract Easy to Read?
Make sure the contract is in simple English—not legal speak. Do business with an organization that makes it easy to do business with it, not one where you need your attorney to understand and manage the relationship.
3. What About Projects?
When you’re about to sign with a new provider, take a look and see if you are being required to purchase things before the contract begins. For example, are you being required to upgrade your network or buy software (such as anti-virus, spam filter, encryption and email security software) at additional costs?
And where is the line drawn between where help desk help ends and projects begin during the life of the agreement? A good rule of thumb is that after four hours of help desk, the issue really should become a project. And all projects should begin with a conversation followed by a project proposal and a statement of work. No project should begin without your written approval based on the latter two items.