Also, make sure there is a formal dispute escalation or resolution process where you and your vendor can talk about problems before you have to "resort to a legal resolution," Petersen said. A lack of specifics really benefits the vendor in those cases, he added.
"Look for phrases like, 'the vendor shall provide the services in a timely, professional manner in accordance with industry standards,'" Petersen said.
Problem response and resolution should also be hammered out in the contract, ensuring there's some commitment to respond to a problem in a specified period of time; it need only be an affirmation that they know about a problem and are working on it.
Problem resolutions can be more difficult as every issue may take more or less time to resolve, but again, it's important that they agree to keep you updated on what's being done.
Being able to monitor service levels and application uptime is also key to understanding service provider performance.