A service level agreement is the glue that holds together the relationship between your business and your service provider. If the terms agreed upon are not adhered to, it can turn a potentially productive partnership into a feisty never-ending battle of he said she said, resulting in subpar service delivery and cost to the business. Understanding the conditions and expected deliverables set out in a service agreement is crucial to ensuring that both parties involved are satisfied and know what is expected of them. Here are three things to keep in mind when entering into a service level agreement.
1. Be well prepared for negotiations
A service level agreement should be entered into with one’s eyes wide open. While a service level agreement can be a massive benefit to your business, it can have the exact opposite effect should it not be set up correctly or properly managed from the get-go. It all starts with the negotiations and by solidifying the terms, goals and deliverables have a clear understanding of what is expected from both you and the supplier. Determining your objectives and expectations and relaying them clearly beforehand will serve to avert any misgivings about what is expected from the supplier’s end. It will also give the provider a clear understanding of what you are not willing to compromise on and what is open for negotiation.
2. Pay attention to the fine print.
A service level agreement can be a blessing or a curse, but it all comes down to how well it is prepared and how thoroughly it is managed. Signing and solidifying a service level agreement should be done with absolute certainty of what it entails as you don’t want a binding agreement based on the empty promises of an overeager provider. It also isn’t entirely unfair to expect a supplier to over-promise on deliverables simply to secure a contract, so be thorough in your research and make a point of getting a few references from one or two current customers who make use of a potential supplier’s services. A provider that promises the world and fails to deliver in the end can cause major disruptions to your business, or worse, cause revenue to slip through your fingers. Remember, once problems arise, you will be the ultimate person responsible, so make sure you cover every detail of your service agreement. Poor service delivery can have a multitude of negative effects on a business. For instance, if goods are not delivered on time or certain services are being neglected it kicks off a domino-effect that can seriously hamstring your business processes. Make sure that the provider’s products and services are clearly defined including responsibility, guarantees and cost. Look out for other aspects like response times, customer contact portals or procedures and added services and benefits that can your business can leverage.
3.Continuously monitor your service level agreement.
Once the agreement has been approved and signed by both parties it has to be monitored and reviewed to guarantee that all goals are reached. Keep in mind that a service level agreement entails a shared responsibility, so it’s crucial to be aware of the fact that you will also be held accountable for certain deliverables. Knowing what your duties as a client are and delivering on them goes a long way in maintaining the working relationship. It’s also important to keep the working relationship with a provider strictly professional. A good working relationship can help to keep communication lines open and encourages better service delivery. On the other hand, overly friendly dealings can result in too much leniency on the terms of the agreement leading to the deterioration of service delivery and possible exploitation of the relationship for personal gain. Sign up and subscribe to one of our delivery packages and save up to 40% on all your office stationery orders.