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What is is a Managed Services Agreement (MSA)? Is it different from a Master Services Agreement?

The abbreviation “MSA” almost always refers to a Managed Services Agreement. An MSA (which can also be called a managed services contract) is an agreement between a managed services provider (MSP) and a client. The contract defines which services the MSP will provide, the minimum amount of time for a response, payment structure, liability protection and more.

Global Computer Systems MSA

How is a Managed Services Agreement different from a Scope of Work or Statement of Work?

A statement of work (SOW) is usually presented when project work is involved. It describes a project's work requirement, defines project-specific tasks, sets deliverables and timelines, and pricing. A Scope of Work or Statement of Work is often presented with a MSA when some sort of fixed, project-based work is involved.

  • A Scope of Work or Statement of Work is associated with project work, whereas the MSA is associated with long-term relationships.

  • You can use a SOW as a response to a project RFP, or as a lead-in to a proposal.

  • A SOW is often turned into an agreement after the client approves it.



                          What is a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?

A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract that in many ways sets the tone of the relationship between vendor and client. The SLA establishes a set of deliverables and delivery parameters that one party has agreed to provide another.

SLAs vary depending on how and where they’re used, but the typical MSP SLA will include factors like response times based on severity of events, network downtime guarantees, and compliance considerations.

It is common for Managed Services Agreements to contain an SLA within them or equivalent contractual language that establishes the specifics of service portion of the contract.


                         Why does an MSP need a Managed Services Agreement?

First and foremost, an MSP must clearly define their offering in a written format. The MSA allows you to describe your solutions, define the working parts of your relationship, set expectations in terms of satisfying the client’s requirements and document the legal protections for both the MSP and the client.

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