With the increase in outsourced services between organisations and service providers, dependency on service level agreement’s are on the rise. The oft-forgotten fine print in service level agreement’s should be paid close attention to so as to ensure that no ambiguities exist between supplier and customer.
IT execs need guarantees around reliability, quality and consistency from service providers and demand that issues that impede on the aforementioned are resolved with the efficiency that the business requires from it. Think about how many companies are moving to cloud solutions to host critical data and provide services that if unavailable for too long, can bring a company to its knees.
This blog highlights a few things your service level agreement should cover that, if honored by your service provider, will bring you closer to an optimised networking environment that delivers quality IT services to your organisation.
Most business-class Internet products include guarantees regarding uptime and service quality. Business continuity should be the key factor when negotiating the level of service availability into your agreement. Service providers can make themselves guilty of over-promising just to get the deal signed, so be sure to do some research and enquire from associates in the industry about the services you can come to expect from specific service providers. The onus is on IT managers to perform thorough groundwork on prospective suppliers who are courting them to part with a large chunk of their budgets.
The nature of hosted environments depend heavily on network uptime, which makes communication about network servicing and other tasks so important. Maintenance tasks and breakages are unavoidable, but a lack of communication from your service provider that results in unanticipated outages for your business will only sour relations and diminish trust.
IT managers need assurance that response times to connectivity and performance issues occur instantly and that a line of communication is opened and maintained by the provider. In addition, relevant persons at service centres should be alerted to eliminate time wastage by hot potato scenarios that sees the call passed on from one support engineer to another. It’s of little use if your branch office situated in a remote location is down and you are debating the problem with a 1st level support engineer who doesn’t have the expertise to troubleshoot complex network issues.
Duration of the agreement
Ensure that the duration of your agreement doesn’t extend over two years as a rule. Being locked into an service level agreement that isn’t worth the paper it is signed on will become a source of contention and a waste of money. Also, many service level agreement’s nowadays have what is termed an “evergreen” clause which means that it automatically renews the length of the agreement if a notice of cancellation isn’t issued by the organisation.
Make sure you have your bases covered
Although each organisation will have its unique set of concerns when entering into an service level agreement, there are certain uniform areas that should be covered, such as speed, reaction times, and efficiency. Having these concerns covered within the service level agreement means that a mutual understanding of each party’s role in achieving identified targets is reached.
With so many considerations and factors to consider, an service level agreement requires thorough and vigilant planning that reduces any ambiguities that may cause problems down the line. The partnership entered into will develop into a solid working relationship between yourself and your supplier once the groundwork has been laid and expectancies communicated clearly.
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