How to Start a New Managed Services Contract
Making the transition to becoming a managed services provider can be a daunting task. Lane Smith, president of Do IT Smarter, made that transition and shares his secrets with you.So you just signed your first managed services contract, the check is in your hand and you are ready to go. Now what? That is a tough question to answer for many resellers that are just getting into the managed services business. Since this is your first sale, you want to keep it simple-selling basic monitoring and management for the customer's single Windows server and a firewall. The contract "go live" date is in two days. Unfortunately ... you are already behind the eight ball. Having told the customer that you can go live in two days, you have already broke the first rule to starting a new contract-setting deliverable expectations. It is certainly possible to start monitoring a network in two days, it's just not realistic. So now let's talk about how this should have gone.
There are three key things to remember when starting any managed services contract: good communication and realistic expectations, documentation, and process.
1. Set Expectations: Allow yourself ample time to truly prepare to
support their environment. We generally allow two weeks from signature
to go live date. This is often hard as the customer is usually ready to
go when they sign. Make sure that they know that without proper
documentation and process in place you will not be able to properly
2. Communications: Don't make the mistake of thinking you now own their
environment-they have simply given you the keys, nothing more. Make
sure that you communicate with your customer every step of the way.
Create a schedule for the next two weeks and discuss it with them. If
you change anything in their environment, let them know.
3. Training: If you have not already done so, now is the time to go
through your service-level agreement with the customer. It is very
important that they understand exactly what you are going to provide
them. Train them on all of the procedures associated with your
solution. What do you do if there is an outage? How do they contact you
to request support? When do you bill them?
1. Contact Information: Don't just include your primary contact's
information, but also the names of those you contact after hours. Who
can approve software installations? You also want to take a look at the
other vendors they use and ensure you have their contact information.
This applies to items like copiers, phone systems, accounting packages,
2. Device-Specific Information: Make sure you have the basics-IP
address, admin password, serial number and warranty information. Don't
forget other essential information to support an environment remotely.
How do you connect remotely? Can you restart remotely without approval?
What is the process for patching the system? What other systems are
affected if this one is down? I could keep going, but I think you get
1. Contact information and escalation procedures for both during and after hours.
2. Patch management process
3. Change management procedures
4. Vendor escalation processes
5. Emergency response process
6. Deciding when to dispatch an on-site tech
7. New hire and termination processes