The SLA, or Service Level Agreement, is a concept that most organizations are very familiar with, and while they typically get attention during the contracting phase of a vendor engagement, they end up being ignored by most organizations after signatures have dried. For those who choose to ignore telecom related SLAs, the reasoning typically comes down to a problem of monitoring and reporting. After all, who really has the resources to confirm the percentage of uptime/downtime for the company’s data circuits?
Network performance guarantees are something most SLAs include, but they are almost worthless if they don’t come with an agreed upon definition, an agreed upon method of measurement, a monitoring system, and a manner in which poor performance can be remedied. While not every organization has these monitoring capabilities, telecom carriers do, and you can contractually obligate them to provide performance reports to you. Can they lie on these reports? Sure, but they are not likely to do so if your IT staff is performing some sort of validation once they receive them. Your staff’s ability to do so will vary, but the difference between a “managed” circuit and “unmanaged” circuit will go a long way in this regard.
Perhaps one of the easiest SLAs to monitor and track is in regards to the placing of new orders. There is always confusion regarding the date an order was placed, or what the difference between “install” and “turn up,” is. Get these terms rigidly defined and you can actually hold your carrier financially responsible if they don’t perform the way they said they would. Yes, you have to be paying attention, but you don’t need new software/hardware in order to know whether your circuit was delivered on time. The best part? You have a carrier account team. Guess which customers get priority when timeframes are tight? You got it…the customer who actually pays attention on the front end and has a plan in place to ensure accountability.