Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Service Level Agreements
Service level agreements are similar to specifications, statements of work, or scope of work that I discuss how to write in the July 4, 2011 blog.
The difference between a service level agreement and these documents is most service level agreements are a listing of all the tasks that must be performed, a definition of the task, what defines the task as having been performed, and the frequency that the tasks will be performed,
A good service level agreement should answer the same five basic questions that you need to answer in a SOW or Specification.
Who is responsible?
What is their responsibility?
Where must it be done?
When must be done?
How must it be done?
If also needs to includes the right standard of commitment.
For example, if you were contracting with a supplier to provide cleaning services at a number of locations your service level agreement would include:
1. A list of all the individual cleaning tasks to be performed (which meets the "what" question).
2. A list of all locations where it is to be performed. (which meets the "where" question).
3. A list of days, dates and frequencies that the tasks must be performed (which meets the "when" question).
4. A complete description of the task to be performed or specification for the performance (which meets the "how" question).
5. To meet the requirements of "who" is responsible and the right standard of commitment all you need to do is say “Supplier shall” in each of 4 items.
a. Supplier shall perform all the following tasks…
b. Supplier shall perform the tasks at all the following locations…
c. Supplier shall perform the tasks in accordance with the following schedule
d. Supplier shall perform all work in accordance with the following descriptions / specifications.
Either the service level agreement or Contracts that the service level agreement should always have several requirements.
1. The right to deduct for work not performed.
2. The right to require correction of the work in a timely manner for work not performed properly or the right to adjust the price.
I also recommend that for any service performed off site or off hours that you always have a way of measuring it and perform spot check or audits to ensure compliance. In my first years in procurement we had a cleaning service contract and I basically knew that the Supplier wasn’t performing to the requirements. I decided to deliberately leave pieces of paper on the floor in certain rooms of the office and dated them with the date and time I left them. On a table in my office that was supposed to be dusted daily, I wrote in dust the date and time. I called the Supplier and told them that I didn’t feel they were performing the contracted work and he assured me that they were. I then invited him to the office and took him for a tour of the office and had him pick up all the pieces of paper and read the dates. I then brought him into my office and invited him to sit down at the table where he immediately noticed the date written in dust. We had a brief discussion in which I told him that if I ever found that again we would terminate the contract and I told him the credit he was going to pay for not doing the work.
With electronics it’s a whole lot easier to manage things. When I later worked for a bank and we had a cleaning service for remote ATM kiosks we issued no value ATM cards for supplier employee access. It allowed us to see if the individuals visited the ATM at all and if they did, how long they were there. Then if we had customer complaints about the cleanliness of the ATM kiosk we could check when the supplier was last there and how long they spent and that would tell us whether they were performing the complete required tasks. Then we would call in the Supplier and show them that either no one was there to clean it or the individual who was there to perform the task that should have taken about fifteen minutes was only there for minute which was probably the time if took to empty the wastebasket.