Don't put up with poor service level agreements, says Neal Gandhi.
As the contracts forged during the height of the dotcom boom come up for renewal for the first time, it seems appropriate that the issue of service level agreements is put back on the agenda.
Organisations that once believed brand counted for everything are now finding they finally have the opportunity to escape from expensive, poorly serviced contracts and are, quite rightly, looking to reap their revenge.
Caught up in the hype and the optimism of the time, businesses signed up for basic infrastructure management services that charged top dollar for low service levels. Suppliers - especially the telcos - offered these services because they could: the demand was there and firms were happy to pay extortionate rates for a supposedly stable base on which to base their services.
Times may have changed, but the contracts haven't. Too many companies accept the "high expense/low quality of service" model that has persisted long after the market started to go into freefall - it seems that 100% network availability can cover a range of shortcomings.
But customers are starting to wake up to this. What they deserve are SLAs set at the application level, not just the network as a whole; guarantees of availability in all areas; flexibility and customisation, and all for a more realistic fee - with strict penalties if service levels are not maintained.
SLAs may be dismissed as a "tick-in-the box" by many suppliers. But initiatives such as tailoring SLAs to reflect the service levels that users promise to their customers can make a world of difference. At a time when finance departments are looking to wring value for money from all areas of the business, it is a mystery why poor service level agreements still persist. It is about time the industry moved to change this.
What do you think?
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Neal Gandhi is vice-president of product management at Attenda