Master Services Agreement: A Guide for MSPs in the Subscription Economy

3 min read
29 February 2024

The technology landscape is in constant flux, and with it, customer expectations are evolving at an unprecedented rate. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are finding themselves at a crossroads: how to maintain the tried-and-true while embracing the innovative subscription and consumption models that the market is swiftly shifting towards. The traditional Managed Services Agreement (MSA) is being put to the test, needing to adapt to a reality where self-service portals and on-the-fly subscription modifications are becoming the norm. For MSPs, transitioning to a more agile and modern form of contract is about staying relevant and leading the charge into the future.

The Critical Role of a Master Services Agreement

The Master Services Agreement (MSA) is more important than ever in this rapidly changing environment. It serves as the cornerstone of any MSP's service offerings, providing a legal and procedural framework that governs the relationship between provider and client. In an age where service models are becoming more dynamic, the MSA ensures a clear understanding of each party's expectations, responsibilities, and the scope of services provided. An MSA helps establish standardized terms and conditions for service delivery, enabling faster deal closures and efficient service provisioning. Additionally, an MSA offers transparency to clients, enhancing trust and fostering stronger client relationships. It also helps mitigate legal risks by outlining dispute resolution procedures, liability clauses, and other legal provisions.

Core Components of a Master Services Agreement

A well-constructed MSA should cover several core aspects:

  • Services and Performance: Clearly define the services provided and how performance will be measured.
  • Payment Structure: Specify the payment schedule, invoicing procedures, and any late payment fees.
  • Liability Protection: Include liability clauses to protect both the MSP and the client.
  • Standardization and Flexibility: Ensure that the MSA allows for standard terms while also accommodating bespoke arrangements.
  • Confidentiality: Include a confidentiality clause to protect both parties' sensitive information.
  • Intellectual property: Clearly define who owns the intellectual property created during the engagement.
  • Termination: Specify the conditions under which either party may terminate the agreement.

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Introducing the Concept to Customers

Transitioning to a new MSA can be as much about customer relations as it is about contractual details. Here's how MSPs can introduce the concept:

  • Educate on the new service model's benefits, emphasizing its value and flexibility.
  • Discuss the changes transparently, focusing on how they enhance service delivery.
  • Provide support and resources to help customers understand and navigate the new agreements.
  • Engage legal professionals during this process to provide essential expertise and ensure a comprehensive and secure agreement.


The move towards subscription-based and self-service models is not a mere trend; it's the future of IT services. For MSPs, updating the traditional MSA to accommodate these changes is critical. It's about streamlining service delivery, enhancing customer relationships, and mitigating risks. Most importantly, it's about securing a position at the forefront of the industry's evolution. With a solid MSA, MSPs can confidently navigate the subscription economy, ensuring lasting and mutually beneficial customer relationships.

What's Next?

 After understanding the importance and core components of a Master Services Agreement, the next step for an MSP is to create one tailored to their specific needs and requirements. There are several resources available to assist MSPs in this process. While we do not recommend any specific service, websites such as LegalNature, UpCounsel, Rocket Lawyer, and LawDepot offer customizable legal document templates, including Master Services Agreements, that can be adapted to the specific needs of an MSP.

These websites also provide access to experienced attorneys who can provide legal advice and assistance in drafting a comprehensive and effective MSA. By utilizing these resources, MSPs can confidently navigate the subscription economy and ensure lasting and mutually beneficial customer relationships.


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