Service Level AgreementsService Level Agreements

In a nutshell, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) set out how you’ll deliver your services to your supplier or how your supplier will deliver theirs to you. They also determine how they are measured.

Mainly, they cover long-term outsourcing and technology agreements (cloud services, support and maintenance) and they ensure that what you provide can be measured.

In an IT context, this means making sure systems continue to run, and that networks don’t crash. When they do (and they always do), the availability of the helpdesk and response and repair times will be critical.

SLAs may also measure customer satisfaction scores.

Most SLAs have problems

  • A common complaint is that they are either overly restrictive or conversely that they’re too vague. They’ll come with clauses like ‘The Supplier shall ensure that the service is available…’. What does ‘available’ mean, anyway?
  • The penalties for when service providers fail to meet requirements can be open-ended – so you can be exposed to possible claims for damages or even termination AND damages.
  • On the other hand, customers often complain that agreements are worded so vaguely that the provider gets away with all sorts of breaches!

How to fix them

We’ll ensure that failing to achieve service levels won’t lead to claims for damages or termination – there are better ways of working out disputes. It’s far better to reward when things go well and use carefully-worded penalties when they don’t. Termination should only ever be a last resort.

For customers, we can press for a target service level and incentivise through reimbursements for failure and rewards for over-achievement.

In Summary

SLAs shouldn’t be weapons with which to beat suppliers every time things go slightly awry in a working relationship; they’re the embodiment of a real agreement and partnership between two sides working together for a common goal.

To make the most of the opportunities they offer call 01904 899794 now and see how we can give you agreements that will give you peace of mind and help you deliver exceptional service.