When sourcing the right software solution for your business, one of the most important factors in your decision will be the relationship with the supplier and the on-going technical support they offer. Below are some key areas you should consider when defining the service levels of your hosted solution with the provider.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SUPPLIER
With the agreement, there should be a section that explicitly states the responsibilities of the Supplier. The level of responsibilities detailed in this section should directly reflect the level of service or package you have purchased. Here are examples of responsibilities that could be detailed for your hosting supplier:
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CLIENT
Likewise, it is just as important to detail responsibilities of yourself as the client. Below, we describe a few areas that a client will hold responsibility in a hosted solution relationship:
PROCESS FOR TECHNICAL SUPPORT
What is the method for reporting queries, bugs, and requests to the supplier? Most hosted solution providers have a ticketing system that provides traceability and progress tracking of customer queries. Understanding the process for logging tickets, obtaining resolution actions and ticket closure will ensure that each query you have is addressed appropriately within the agreed response times.
CHANGES OR TERMINATION OF SERVICES
It’s unrealistic to think that the services you need now from the supplier will remain the same for the next 10 years. Therefore, it is best to understand how changes can be initiated and implemented or even terminate services.
The process for initiating and implementing changes has to work for both you and the supplier. As a client, you need to ensure you will have the means to test any changes to the service before they are executed into your live environment. This helps to identify potential issues which may occur and ultimately provides a seamless implementation. The supplier needs to ensure they have the appropriate resources to support your requests for implementing changes, especially where out of hours’ implementation is a requirement.
For termination of services, consider detailing the process for requesting termination. Depending on the impact the application has to your business operations as the client, you may want to consider a written 6-months’ notice. If you receive a notice for termination of services from your supplier now, what time frame would you need to source and implement an alternative solution and transfer your data? Once services are terminated what information of yours is kept or destroyed and how is it destroyed?
Service Reviews are an excellent forum to discuss what works and what doesn’t work with the services or the relationship between the client and supplier. Things to consider are frequency of service reviews, what items will be reviewed and how the review outcome is reported and communicated.
When a disaster strikes, does your supplier have a process in place to ensure services are fully restored? Although disasters are unlikely to happen, it is best to have a plan of action to follow and ensure the expectations of both the supplier and yourself as the client are thoroughly understood.