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Global Growth

What IT Support Vendors Should Look for in a Partner Agreement

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There is currently a vast abundance of opportunity for ambitious IT vendors looking to grow through international partnerships with American companies. As they grow globally, American businesses are looking for support from local vendors such as IT cabling and equipment installers, as well as systems designers and engineers, to upgrade and expand external networks as well as internal corporate networks and communications systems. To take advantage of these opportunities, IT support vendors should keep the following considerations in mind when establishing international partnerships.

Evaluate Your Partner’s Business Relationships

Entering into a partnership agreement requires more than a minimally specified list of the respective parties' obligations. Start by verifying that the company has a good relationship with its clients and other IT service providers. Some questions to ask your potential partner:

  • How long has the company been doing business with its largest client(s)?

  • What is the extent of services the company provides its long-term large clients?

  • What is the length of the remaining term of the current contracts with the client?

  • What is the company's system for management of corporate B2B relationships?

  • How long the company has been working under an SLA with a large MSP?

  • What is the nature and extent of services the company receives from its large MSP?

  • What is the length of the remaining term of the current contracts with the MSP?

Affirm Transparency of Expectations

As you review the partner agreement, ensure that all stipulations and contingencies of client expectations and work being requested are laid out clearly in the contract. For larger projects, include an individually initialed and dated clause confirming that any additional agreements are invalid unless they are made addendums to the original contract. You may want to include agreements regarding:

  • Pricing and potential pricing reevaluation due to market or industry changes

  • Written inclusions in the Managed IT Services SLA

  • Written exclusions in the SLA

  • Help desk support levels

  • Equipment, materials and supplies

  • Labor hours

  • Dedicated account management

  • Other relevant inclusions and exclusions

Outline Policy and Practices of Relevant Data Sharing with Partners

The extent of data sharing that will become necessary during a project can become a point of contention in an otherwise smooth collaboration. Clarify expectations and permissions needed to ensure accountability by asking your partner:

  • What is the company's explicit policy regarding sharing data of the kind to be involved in the proposed joint project?

  • What will be the digital vehicle used for data sharing?

  • How is secure transmission of sensitive data managed?

  • What level of access to the client's data storage can your company expect?

  • Who will be the point of contact, if any, for data requests and fulfillments?

  • What are the company's security protocols for protection of sensitive data and what levels of users will have which access rights assigned?

  • What data backup and restoral systems are currently in place? When were those last tested to validate proper functioning and outcomes?

Confirm Payment Policy and Practices

A partnership agreement for IT support vendor services is incomplete without clear provision of assurance of full and prompt payment for work complete. The language of the payment terms and conditions provision should include:

  • Clear, detailed statement of the company's vendor payment policy.

  • Payment timeframes, discount terms, transaction modes, currency and national and regional tax withholding policies and practices.

  • Detailed description of payment conditions, including service and payment dispute protocols.

Additionally, your partner should have proof that the company has maintained a viable cash flow position over the past three years and is able to pay—in a timely manner—for services rendered. If there’s a doubt ask for:

  • The company's annual reports for the past three years.

  • Detailed financials for the past three years, in addition to the annual report.

  • And check vendor references.

  • Contractor payment insurance, if applicable in the region.

Review the Project Management Platform and Best Practices

Which formal project management platform(s) does the company use? Are the software platform itself and the company's level of understanding of operating on the platform both sufficient to achieve the project objectives and goals? Confirm that the company's system successfully accounts for all facets of project management.

Then, get a sense of the company's commitment and follow through on adherence to IT services industry best practices. Does the company apply best practices in project management, to assure strong communication and positive outcomes? Discuss the company's philosophy and understanding of both essential and project-type-specific best practices.

  • Get a clear picture of the company's attitude about shortcuts and substitutions of equipment, materials and processes in the interest of cost savings.

  • Examine proposed budget line item entries.

  • Examine proposed project timelines, scheduling and delivery dates.

  • Inspect documentation protocols for all subprocesses.

  • Inspect documentation of recently completed comparable projects, including problem reports, to discover decision processes, actions taken and outcomes for project owners and services providers.

Keep in Mind

While compromise is inevitably necessary, ensure that both parties are clear on all details and have fully considered the terms prior to signing. Agree upon set periodic reviews of the continued relevance of the partnership and opportunities for revision of terms.

The more of the above information and validations you can obtain prior to entering a partnership agreement with a foreign business for purposes of providing IT services, the higher your likelihood of an end-to-end smooth and mutually rewarding business relationship with your new IT project partner.

About Kinettix

We are a U.S.-based company helping internationally expanding U.S. American companies, by dispatching IT field services technicians and project management experts around the world. The Kinettix Global Alliance of IT services vendors spans across more than 90 countries. Contact us if you’d like to become a Kinettix partner.

 

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Bob Supinger

Written by: Bob Supinger

With over 16 years of management experience in business and Information Technology, Bob has helped Kinettix build the infrastructure required to establish itself as a true leader in global IT field services, and in particular rapid response on-site troubleshooting and repair. At Kinettix, Bob leads field services, project management and vendor development organizations. His responsibilities also include operational P&L and expense control; operational strategy and overseeing plan execution; recruiting, employee engagement and development; ongoing process improvement; and customer experience. Before joining Kinettix, Bob worked for Comcast Business, Enterprise Solutions, and Contingent Network Services. He attended Edison State and Wright State University and attained a Degree in Business in 1999. He participated in and coached collegiate athletics and is currently the president of a non-profit organization supporting youth athletic programs in the community.

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