One of the best practices that Luis Alvarez shared with participants at our recent Scale Up Master Class webinar was using what he called a Risk Acknowledgment Form. The ScalePad team has created our own version of a Risk Acknowledgment Form, which we’ve called a Warranty Coverage Notice. It’s an editable Word document for you to take as a template to use with your own MSP.
This document is based on something that Alvarez Technology Group (ALG) developed as part of their asset lifecycle management program: it’s shared with clients that have assets that are no longer meeting minimum hardware standards with regards to the age (too old) and warranty status (out of warranty). The ALG team shares ScalePad hardware reports with clients, which underpin recommendations to replace devices that have aged out, and to enact or renew warranties on devices that are unprotected, bringing them up to the standards set out in ALG’s master services agreement. Their Risk Acknowledgement Form provides a nudge to clients to take action: either meet standards via replacement or purchasing a warranty, or accept the risks and potential consequences of inaction.
“The most important thing for us is that we don’t want there to be any unmet expectations. We start right from the beginning of our relationship with our clients when we tell them, ‘Look, it’s really important that your critical systems — whether it’s hardware or networking devices — have active warranties and service agreements, so that if something happens, we can engage with the vendor to replace or fix that device without having to take on additional cost. It’s in your best interests to have these devices under warranty or extended warranty, or service program if it’s a firewall or networking device.’
“They get it for the most part. Occasionally we will run into somebody who they think knows better than we do, and they say, ‘We don’t want that to be a condition of the relationship.’ So we’ve developed a Risk Acknowledgment Form for clients that refuse to adhere to that part of the agreement, or who ask for that part of the agreement to be excluded.”
Inspired by Luis, and other leaders in the MSP industry who follow a similar protocol, the ScalePad team has created our own version of a Risk Acknowledgment Form, which we’ve called a Warranty Coverage Notice. It’s an editable Word document for you to take as a template to use with your own MSP.
Remember, the purpose behind this form is to create action. A signed form from your client acknowledging and accepting risks gives you downside protection, but the reason to present the form is to encourage your client to follow your recommendations to replace aging hardware or protect it with a warranty.
Very important caveat: there is no cookie-cutter solution that’ll work out of the box for everyone, which is why this is a downloadable here on our website, and not built into the ScalePad app itself — you will need to make changes based on your own hardware standards and what you’ve contracted to deliver to your clients in your own master services agreement. Unlike promotional socks, one size does NOT fit all, so please take this as a starting point and tailor it to your MSP’s needs. Read everything through carefully, and make edits so it makes sense for your business. Name it a Risk Acknowledgement Form, or a Warranty Coverage Notice, or whatever you like, but make it your own.
One final pro tip from our webinar (watch it on demand here): Luis requires that ALG’s Risk Acknowledgement Form be signed off by an executive or board member at the client organization. This typically means that their operational contact (typically an office manager) needs to escalate it to a higher level, which means there’s inevitably a conversation. This conversation creates action, because even clients with little interest in IT are loath to sign off on an unquantified risk. Instead, they choose to follow ALG’s standards and either replace hardware or (more typically) renew a warranty. Follow this process, and you should be able to make this work too.
“It’s worked well. To this point, we have very few Risk Acknowledgement Forms that are signed. Usually the ones that do sign it, within a few months come back and say, ‘We want to go back to the program where we have to cover everything like you recommend, so let’s get rid of that form.’”