9 Critical Questions to Ask Your IT Service Provider

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What are the terms of your service-level agreement (SLA)?

An SLA is a contract between you and the provider that outlines expected services, metrics to measure those services and possible penalties should the agreed-upon metrics not be met. It's important to have a strong SLA with reasonable terms. With an SLA, everyone has the same understanding of requirements and neither party can plead ignorance should an issue arise.

Providers usually provide a standard SLA, but it's important to ensure the terms are in your best interest. Know that these standard SLAs are just a starting point for negotiations, and any provider not willing to adjust their terms is cause for concern.

One item to pay close attention to is the promised support request response times. Some providers, for example, might hide behind a two-hour response window, so they're protected. That's obviously not in your best interest, and this should be discussed and adjusted.

There are plenty of good reasons for outsourcing IT operations to a service provider, but doing so comes with inherent risk. Today's organizations are entrusted with customers' financial data and other sensitive information, so it's never been more important to carefully evaluate potential service providers.

A lot is at stake when it comes to IT management, especially around security practices, business continuity and disaster recovery, supporting a mobile workforce and more. After all, your IT operation is the backbone of your business. You simply can't afford to hire a provider that promises the world and doesn't deliver, or even worse, one that doesn't adhere to the right practices.

In this slideshow, Chris Messer, senior vice president of technology at Coretelligent, outlines the nine important questions organizations should ask prospective service providers to be sure they're getting the right business partner.

Chris Messer is senior vice president of technology at Coretelligent, a leading provider of comprehensive managed IT and private cloud services. Chris works with some of today's most advanced technologies, and he personally architected Coretelligent's geo-diversified private cloud - CoreCloud - as well as Coretelligent's global client monitoring systems. He advises organizations of all sizes on their IT strategies, and helps develop custom roadmaps for private, public and hybrid cloud deployments.


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