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Why You Need to Be Familiar with Your SLAs

Why You Need to Be Familiar with Your SLAs

Normal. Usual. Typical. When your business is going well, it all feels “normal”. When you are faced with a major technology problem, however, it can trigger a series of catastrophic issues that interrupt, or in some cases destroy, the equilibrium reached when things are going as they should. This peace of mind is the main reason many businesses owners like you have chosen to sign a service level agreement (SLA) with an outsourced IT provider. Keeping everything “normal” can keep profit rolling in. Today we look behind the SLA to show you how it works to protect your business’ normal.

What Are We Agreeing To?
At Washington Works, we understand just how much you depend on your technology. That’s why we’ve established our value-based managed IT service. Not all IT service providers do it this way. Many computer shops still just fix computers when they break, and while it’s okay to do it this way, we believe that our way, where we offer you several services designed to proactively protect your company’s technology, is simply more all-around valuable. In order to make it work, however, we make use of a carefully constructed service level agreement that works to establish the kind of service delivery you can expect, while giving our clients the peace of mind about how we handle our technical, personal, and financial processes, and what they mean for your business.

The typical SLA covers two major factors

  • Uptime/Downtime - Since any IT management service worth its salt will come with comprehensive remote monitoring as a standard part of the agreement, uptime is a crucial variable when thinking about an organization’s servers. This is an increasingly important metric since many IT service providers host infrastructure, applications, storage, or some other utility for their clients. Most SLAs will guarantee a certain degree of uptime.
  • Response Time - This measures how much time your IT services provider has before they need to respond to the problems you are having once you contact them. Generally, SLAs require the organization to go through the proper channel (usually a email-integrated ticketing system or chat interface), and hold short intervals of time to ensure that your IT system gets the attention it needs to be effective.

Scope
The first thing the SLA will establish is a description of the service that has been contracted. The SLA will outline the specifics of what technology is covered, and how it will be covered. Typically, service-based companies will have tiers of service that customers can choose from to keep the SLA process simpler. Some companies provide more or less flexibility depending on their clientele’s needs. In managed IT services, we like to think of ourselves as solutions providers, so we try not to limit the amount of good we can do for a company, but to protect our business, we have to explicitly outline what the agreement covers and what it doesn’t.

Penalties
The SLA will likely detail the kind of compensation that the organization would receive if the IT service provider fails to meet the promises outlined in the SLA. Typical responses to this are in the form of account credit. These serve to give an organization a certain percentage more service for the following month if a situation arises. There will also likely be a clause in the agreement that allows an organization to get out of their SLA if they aren’t delivered a certain level of service.

Cost
The agreement isn’t just in place to protect the service provider. Sure, without one there are no official boundaries put on a client to demand resolution of an issue, but it also serves to outline just how much the service costs, eliminating the risk of ambiguity on the buyer.

Why Your SLA Should Matter to You
The SLA provided by your IT company helps you determine where your monthly IT budget is going, what it protects you against, and how emergencies are handled. This sets an expectation for your company when issues occur. Granted, not all IT providers live and die by their SLA, which in our opinion, is a massive disservice to their clients. Have you ever felt like you weren’t getting what you paid for with your IT provider? We understand - and we can do better. Give us a call today at 301-571-5040 to talk about how we could raise your expectations for your IT.

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