Service level agreements (SLA) define and align the support and service delivery requirements that enable your business to reach its objectives, which is why it’s important to include clauses in your agreement that protect you as a customer. Here are some tips from an expert.
The fundamental purpose of a service level agreement (SLA) is to support the strategy of a business. As CIOReview states, “a complete SLA can decrease downtime as well as improve ROI for organisations.” It’s also important to note that an SLA sets guidelines for the customers and service providers, ensuring both are satisfied with the work being done.
A well-crafted SLA is vital for any service business so it’s important to keep in mind that an ambiguous agreement may be difficult to enforce if the terms and service deliverables are not clearly defined, which could lead to all kinds of frustrations and delays in services for your business and customers.
When starting to map out your SLA the following should be clearly defined by both parties:
The scope of services
Service delivery responsibilities and metrics
The client and provider’s responsibilities and risks, including commercial terms
“The metrics may vary from SLA to SLA but the areas covered are generally uniform”, notes Paloaltonetworks.com. These include volume and quality of work (including precision and accuracy), speed, responsiveness, and efficiency.
With the right SLA in place a business can achieve lower costs of ownership, predictable monthly costs, and a single point of contact for service calls.
As experts in the field of voice collaboration, we manage the various necessary partner relationships and associated SLAs on behalf of our clients. This means that our SLAs ensure the standards of our products as well as our service. With years of experience in this, we’ve put together a list of the key things you should see in any SLA with your collaboration partner.
The 4 non-negotiables every business should include in an SLA:
1. Define the scope of service
At minimum, every SLA must clearly define the Scope of the Services being delivered. This must include, service delivery responsibilities and metrics, each parties' responsibility, and the risks allocated to each member of the contracting parties.
2. Make sure all responsibilities are defined
An SLA must also include terms to ensure that all parties fully understand their responsibility in terms of deliverables and timelines. This should include commercial terms such as payment terms, charges, etc. (Limiting each parties liability).
3. Define Service Delivery terms
Your SLA must stipulate what happens when disruptions occur and how quick the service provider will take to fix the issue and/or respond to requests. Time to resolution (TTR), which should be noted in the SLA, will give you an indication of exactly how long it takes, or is expected to take, before an issue is resolved. It’s also important to define the service availability hours so each party has an understanding of when service calls will be actioned.
4. Data privacy and security
In the age of Big Data it’s vital to ensure that your service provider complies with regulation around data security. Never sign an SLA that doesn’t clearly stipulate the security and privacy around the storing of your data. Microsoft, for example, have launched data centres in South Africa, which has made some fundamental changes in the data security options for many companies. Read our blog for more on this exciting new venture.
Remember, it’s also important to ensure that your SLA leaves room for any changes you may want to make to the agreement or any new functionalities that may be required in future. Technology changes often and you don’t want to be bound to old terms on new technology. Approach your SLA with the right mindset, and these tips, and you’re sure to have a win-win relationship going forward.
Managing your SSP in an SLA
Seeing that you will almost certainly make use of cloud-based storage to store company bulk data, once you have secured the SLA, there’s also the issue of securing your data with the software support (SSP).
Ensure that your SSP has the necessary security measures in place to protect against a data breach, such as authentication, authorisation, accounting (AAA) precautions, email and web content monitoring/management, as well as general network security and firewall rules, to enforce what services and content are allowed to be accessed by users on the network.
“A business requires the right technology partner in driving and supporting their current and future communications.”
Developing the communication and technology roadmaps, managing migration paths with multiple locations and service levels, especially in a multi-vendor environment, presents many challenges, which should be overseen by a competent technology and communications provider.
How does Nashua Communications do an SLA?
We provide expert guidance and assistance on the appropriate SLA for your business. The core of our service portfolio is all about delivering value to your business. Driving excellence in service delivery, mitigating risk, lowering cost and creating transparency and predictability in service delivery - ultimately boosting the agility, efficiency, and effectiveness of your voice communications solution.