7 Tips to Negotiating a Smarter Service Level Agreement (SLA)
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By Joanne Jeffries
Service Level Agreements (SLA) set out a contract of who is responsible for what and for facility managers, they are fundamental to ensure they will receive the service they expect. Getting the right SLA agreed can be hard work. Here are seven top tips for getting a better, smarter SLA:
Tip 1: Get legal advice
You may think that bringing in lawyers or seeking legal advice will not only be expensive, but also be a hindrance to the process, slowing negotiations etc. Having a lawyer to review documents is a smart move, preventing problems that could be far more expensive to resolve at a later stage.
Tip 2: Start with a standard SLA
Is it such a bad idea to use a standardized SLA? Standardized SLAs are helpful, but you need to ensure that they also meet with your requirements and those of your business. Most people when presented with a standardized SLA may still want legal advice and input from other stakeholders within the business.
Tip 3: Sticks and carrots
SLAs have for some time, been the ‘stick’ in a relationship. When the service provider has not met targets etc., there was a ‘punishment’. This is not the only approach with many modern SLAs providing ‘carrots’, with cause for redress when things don’t quite according to plan clearly set out.
Tip 4: Surpass performance
SLAs should clearly show what would happen if standards are not met but how about if these standards are surpassed? SLAs can be just as much about improving standards as it is about setting them. Some businesses are taking a more modern approach and incentivizing vendors that exceed targets.
Tip 5: Build in a pro-active approach
When things do go wrong, what can happen is a series of incriminating emails and phone calls, all looking to apportion blame. An SLA can emphasize good practice at all levels. Building in a clear escalation process upfront can save a lot of time later on.
Tip 6: Consider outsourcing as part of an SLA
Your company may not be able to deliver everything to the high standard expected. Rather than waiting for problems to arise, make it part of the SLA that you can outsource some parts of the service to a third party supplier if required.
Tip 7: Pay attention to the detail
The devil is in the detail and this is certainly true when it comes to SLAs. For a smart deal, pay close attention to the detail because it is these small clauses that can come back to haunt you.
Understanding and being able to implement effective SLAs is key to facilities management. How smart are your SLAs and contracts? If you are interested in learning more, please do take an opportunity to review the FMP accreditation.