Service level agreements (SLAs) are an unexciting yet essential part of running an MSP business. SLAs are there so that customers know what level of service they can expect from you and from their IT system.
SLAs can also help you as the IT support provider. Consistent adherence to the terms of an SLA enhances your credibility and endures that your customer’s expectations are realistic.
This article lists three key features that you should keep in mind when writing SLAs.
It is important to clarify the exact scope of the services you provide as part of every SLA. Detail exactly what servers and software systems come under your remit and make sure any exclusions are made clear. For example, if a customer has a bespoke database or CRM system, they may go directly to the software company for support.
Spend time defining the service accurately to avoid future disagreements.
System uptime targets are a common metric to include in writing SLAs. Usually measured as a percentage, system uptime readings allow customers to review how reliable their IT infrastructure is over a period of time.
It can be quite difficult to monitor system uptime manually. Thankfully, software solutions are available that serve this purpose.
It is wise to monitor uptime for all key systems separately. For example, try to provide an uptime percentage for email, file services and remote access separately, as well as providing customers with a combined figure. This helps you and the customer identify if a particular service is causing problems, which may lead to recognition that some work or investment is required.
Defining how quickly problems should be resolved is an important part of every SLA.
Usually, it makes sense to assign a level of severity to each problem that occurs, ranging from top-priority, urgent issues, usually resulting in one or more staff being unable to work, down to routine “nice to have” improvements to the system.
Once the priorities are defined, you should agree a realistic resolution time for each type of problem. For example, four hours for an urgent issue and 72 hours for a low priority request. After these timings are agreed, you should use a call logging system to track the progress of each issue and report back your performance compared to the SLA.
In order for problem resolution to be accurately tracked and measured as part of a service level agreement, it is essential that all users know the correct way to report and prioritize problems. Sometimes making individual users understand that a system-wide mail flow problem is of higher priority than their low toner cartridge can be awkward!
Time taken on producing detailed, workable service level agreements pays significant dividends. Not only does it ensure that your customers’ expectations are correctly aligned, it also allows you to accurately plan the level of internal resource required to effectively support each client. The end result of this should be an easy-going, stress-free relationship between customer and MSP.
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