Over the years I have been involved in numerous conversations and negotiations with lawyers when moving from an award of contract for MSP service provision, through to a mutually agreeable and executable contractual agreement.

For anybody who has been involved in this process, I am sure that, at a minimum, it has been a somewhat uncomfortable experience and at worst, complete torture.

There have been situations where contracts have taken six months or more to conclude and where contract negotiations have continued even during the early stages of implementation — when data is being gathered, process documents written and steady-state delivery teams being appointed and even hired.

So, here is some practical advice that might make things a little easier for all parties involved in these discussions.

Allow the MSP to write the initial contract. It is amazing how many contracts I have seen from organizations where so much of the content bears little relation to the service being acquired as part of an MSP. An MSP provider understands the staffing business and can apply best practice to create a more bespoke contract that is better aligned to MSP service delivery. This also saves your legal team time and effort in creating a one-off MSP framework, freeing this time for negotiations.

Consider having a master services agreement with country addendums. Try to create a master services agreement that is applicable to all the common needs across your territories, allowing for separate addendums for each country where there are such things as differing legislative requirements, pricing strategy or rate cards

Risk Assmnt1Be realistic when looking at risk. Try to compartmentalize risk into one of the four quadrants depicted in the following image. Keep as much as possible in the bottom left-hand quadrant, where the likelihood of the risk occurring is low, as is the impact to either party if an event does occur.

Separate the service-level agreements and key performance indicators. Try not to confuse SLAs and KPIs. My recent article SLAs and KPIs are different — Split them in your contract explains their differences and provides a series of recommendations for using and tracking them.

Rein the lawyers in. Get your legal counsel together and focus their efforts to come up with a mutually agreeable framework in as short of a timeframe as possible. I believe that in full consultation with the business stakeholders from both the buying organization and the MSP provider, reining them in and providing a finite timeframe for them to come up with a workable framework agreement, would certainly result in less pain.