Essential Documents Every MSP Must Have Signed

Too often, businesses and individuals rely on handshake deals and verbal agreements, believing that mutual trust and understanding are enough. We like each other, what could go wrong.

A lot.

This approach inevitably leads to misunderstandings and conflicts.

Here’s a simple example: my son needed a place to stay in Rochester for a summer research co-op. We found a sublet through Facebook, where my wife communicated with the current renter’s father.

They quickly came to a verbal agreement about the rental terms. Everything seemed settled—until it wasn’t.

The renter’s father passed the details to his son, who had a different interpretation of the agreement. Meanwhile, my wife relayed her understanding to me, giving me one impression, and to our son, who understood something else. A straightforward arrangement became a tangled web of conflicting expectations and miscommunications – even with all the best intentions and high level of trust.

Untangling the web was a pain in the neck that we could have avoided by writing it down in the first place. Even if it were on the back of a napkin, something written would have helped a lot.

Now, imagine you are agreeing to manage someone’s business infrastructure. If a sublease gets complicated, do you really think there will be a shared understanding of infrastructure expectations?

Without written contracts, the risk of disputes and liabilities increases significantly. For Managed Service Providers (MSPs), it’s essential to formalize all agreements in writing, ensuring clarity and protection for both parties.

There are dozens of agreements you may want signed; here we go through the few essential documents every MSP must have signed to manage expectations and stave off conflict.

Sales Documents

These documents define your obligations, their obligations and set expectations.

Proposal and Contract:

This document outlines the services you will provide and the associated costs. It sets the foundation for your relationship with the client, detailing what is expected from both parties. Using a proposal template, you can efficiently list all services and pricing, ensuring everything is clear from the start.

Master Service Agreement (MSA)

The MSA, or terms and conditions, define the operational parameters and rules under which you and the client will work together. This includes payment terms, service expectations, and other critical aspects of the business relationship. Always include the MSA as part of your proposal to ensure both documents are consistent and comprehensive.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

This document specifies the expected level of service and the procedures for addressing issues. It defines the response times, service availability, and escalation procedures, ensuring clients know what to expect and how to address problems.

Cover Your Ass(ets) Documents

These agreements help protect you from some of the bad decisions that your customers make. If they don’t want cybersecurity or backup services that could easily become your problem. We talk about these specific cases below, but you may have other specific needs depending on your target market (yet another reason why niche is important).

Cybersecurity Waiver

As cybersecurity threats grow, it’s crucial to protect your MSP from liability if a client declines security services. A cybersecurity waiver states that the client has chosen not to implement certain security measures recommended by your company, thereby protecting you from potential blame in the event of a breach.

Backup Waiver

Similar to the cybersecurity waiver, this document indicates that the client has opted out of backup services. It ensures that you are not held responsible for data loss due to the client’s decision to decline backup solutions.

Management Documents

These agreements are general agreements that help define the relationship between you and the client, you and vendors, or you and your workers.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

While NDAs are often considered a formality, they are essential for establishing trust. An NDA ensures that sensitive information shared during the business relationship is protected and not disclosed to third parties.

Commission Agreement

If you have individuals or entities selling services on your behalf, a commission agreement outlines the terms of their compensation. It clarifies how commissions are calculated and paid, ensuring transparency and preventing disputes.

Employment Agreement

Clearly defining the terms of employment for your staff is crucial. This agreement should outline job responsibilities, performance expectations, and evaluation procedures. Documenting every aspect of employment protects your business and ensures clear communication with employees.

Client Support Documents

These are not contractual, per se but you will want to put them in place. Which documents you need will depend on the scope of your services but here are a couple of suggestions as a place to start.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans:

These documents are critical for ensuring that your clients can continue operating during and after a disaster. A business continuity plan outlines procedures for maintaining business functions, while a disaster recovery plan details the steps to recover from a catastrophic event. These plans are essential for compliance and for maintaining client trust.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy:

With the increasing trend of remote work, a BYOD policy is essential for managing the security risks associated with employees using their own devices. This policy outlines the acceptable use of personal devices for work purposes and the security measures that must be followed.

Don’t leave your business to chance.

For MSPs, having the right documents in place isessential when it comes to setting expectations and ensuring smooth operations. If asking for a signature on a contract feels uncomfortable, imagine how uncomfortable that call at 3AM will be when your customer expects an immediate response to something you think is completely out of scope.

Contracts are critical for protecting your business and ensuring smooth operations. From defining the scope of services to protecting against liabilities and ensuring compliance, these documents form the backbone of a successful MSP operation. Make sure each document is tailored to your specific needs and regularly reviewed to keep up with industry changes and legal requirements.

By implementing these essential documents, you not only safeguard your business but also build stronger, clearer, and more professional relationships with your clients.

Similar Posts