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IT Support Agreement

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What is IT Support?

IT support refers to technical-related assistance, usually in computer systems, provided to all types of organisations. It is a broad term and it covers any type of technology-related work, service or product – from an employee needing help in software access registration to emergency situations such as an entire network going down. Businesses need IT support but not all are able to directly employ in-house IT professionals. Some programs or products also need dedicated professionals from a specific provider. For that, they hire IT companies to give them the technical support they need.

When and why should I use an IT Support Agreement?

Since IT technical support is extensive in scope, a formal written support agreement is important. This agreement will protect the interests of both the business owner and the service provider by clearly indicating what types of support will be provided. It is necessary that the support agreement is reduced into writing prior to the commencement of the services of the IT support company.

What are the key clauses in an IT Support Agreement?

  • List of services that will be provided – A complete, detailed list of the services and support to be given by the IT company to the business owner must be found in the IT support agreement. It must also state how and when these services will be delivered. Will it be a daily on-site support or an on-call service? Or will it be more like a consultative approach where the IT company will provide the business owner’s employees training? As there is a vast range of services an IT company can give to a business, each support agreement is unique. All the details must be clearly indicated in the IT support agreement.
  • Duties, responsibilities and liabilities of the parties – Like most contracts, the IT support agreement must set out all the obligations of the parties to each other. For example, does the IT company have to respond to a major system crash within 30 minutes after the crash occurs?
  • Fees and payment – The IT company needs to know the amount of compensation they will receive for their services and how and when they will receive the payments. To prevent misunderstanding and confusion, all the details should be clearly provided in the contract.
  • Term of the contract – IT support agreements are not complete without a provision regarding the duration of the contract. There are several types of terms of service. There are project-based services where the contract ends after the project is finished. For example, an IT company will set up a database for the business owner and the contract is terminated once the database is finished and is approved by the business owner. We also have services with a fixed date. For example, the IT support agreement is valid for two years, after which the contract is automatically terminated. There are also some contracts where there is an indefinite term and the service will be suspended at the request of either party.
  • Confidentiality – As the IT company will likely deal with sensitive information belonging to the business owner, a clause providing for non-disclosure, non-solicitation and non-competition is important. The IT support agreement must provide that sensitive information acquired by the IT company must not be used against the business owner’s interests and that it will remain confidential.
  • Termination – This clause details the circumstances under which the parties may discontinue the service agreement. For example, either party may terminate the agreement upon a 60-day notice to the other party. This clause may also provide for all the procedures required in the termination of the contract such as return of access to the business owner’s computer systems.
  • Dispute resolution process – Should there be any dispute between the parties, this clause will provide for the means that the dispute will be settled between the parties.

What happens if I do not put in place an IT Support Agreement?

Service agreements give a solid and concise foundation that will help parties navigate the law and ensure that they are on the right track. If the legal relationship is solely dependent on verbal agreements, it will be difficult to require either party to fulfill their end of the obligation. There might also be dissimilarities to the parties’ understanding of their verbal agreement. To rid the parties of any future misunderstandings, an IT support agreement must be put in place.

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