Outsourcing IT services can be an excellent choice for businesses that cannot afford or do not need their own internal IT team. Choosing a provider that has a proven track record for success, and that is committed to the needs of your own business can boost your operations and save you money. You will however need to establish an IT support agreement that outlines the details of their job. Creating this document will ensure that all parties understand their responsibilities and because of this your IT operations will run better. We have written a list of key questions that an IT support agreement should answer.

How long will they take to resolve a problem?

When your IT systems are down your entire business suffers, so it is essential to clarify with an IT team how long it will take them to respond to your support request, and also how long it will take them to resolve it. Many IT services state that they have a quick response time, but this does not mean they can solve the problem straight away. The solution might be hours or days away, so talk about timing in your IT support agreement, well before a problem actually occurs.

How many levels of support do they have?

An IT service will usually have different levels of support. The person who first answers your phone call or responds to your e-mail may only have a basic level of knowledge about your system. They will attempt to provide a solution and if they cannot they will transfer you to a person who is more specialised. A good IT service will have multiple tiers of employees who have their own unique areas of IT knowledge and experience.

What services do they offer?

An external IT service may work casually, and charge per hour for the amount of time they spend addressing your enquiry. Another option is to sign up for ‘managed services’ which means your IT team will charge you a flat rate per month and offer you a range of services during this time. When you establish an IT support agreement you will need to clarify the exact services that they will offer you for the monthly rate, and any limits that exist for these services.

What are the exclusions?

There are some areas of IT that your team may not deal with, including water damage or hardware that has been modified by someone who is not authorised to do so. These exclusions to their services may be acceptable for your business, but you will need to decide this ahead of time.

What are the excess charges?

Ask your IT team when you will need to pay more for a service. Are there a limited amount of hours that the help desk can offer you during a month? Are their additional fees for work after hours or on a public holiday? Define these charges ahead of time, and also ensure your own employees are aware of them.

When do they operate?

Gone are the days when everyone works 9am-5pm. Information technology is crucial for businesses at all hours of the day, and you will need to confirm when your IT team operates. Even if they do not provide a service 24 hours a day, it is wise to partner with a team that works similar hours to your own business. Waiting for technical support can be costly for your business, so think about this concern ahead of time.

Hayden McMaster