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In this article we address designing SLAs that fit the business’ need and live past the lifecycle of the negotiations.

SLAs provide the ground rules for interaction between providers and their clients, and establish the baseline against which expectations are set.

I say that first because I believe in the model and second because of all the many times I have worked to fix, amend or recreate SLAs that were not crafted correctly the first time.

One of the most obvious issues with SLAs is that often they do not clearly or thoroughly represent the expectations of the customer and don’t offer a clear enough commitment from the provider.

If you talk to people about what an SLA should do they can come up with good answers but again, the end result often gets lost in the application of the agreements, penalties and credits.

How should the measurements change if the customer’s requirements change over time?

If you pay bonuses internally for good work, shouldn’t you do the same externally?

It should detail the customer expectations, measurement of the service, calculation of the metrics and outline the process for correction and reporting and provide for remedies in the event of failure.

An SLA may be external or internal but the key is to get all your information up front, including your business requirements so you can draft a document that will reflect the expectations of the customer. The amount of effort you expend on an SLA is dependent on the complexity and details of the SLA.The outsourcer has a responsibility to deliver a quality product and they should be viewed as an integral part of the overall corporate organization.Since they are not an actual part of the organization (may be aligned on processing but not on your ultimate business goals) they need to be monitored in a co-ownership manner to ensure that the objectives of the outsourcing process and the terms of contract are being met.Monitoring, reporting, renegotiating and adjusting the metrics should be an ongoing process.You expect your internal units to be flexible, responsive to the business climate and provide a competitive advantage to your organization, the same thing should be true of your outsourcer and the SLAs reflect those expectations.In fact, there should be monitoring and tracking of just such results.

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