In a perfect world, companies would never experience business relationships with service providers, vendors, or even clients where a disconnect occurs. Instead, everyone would be in sync, and as a result business would run smoothly. The reality, however, can be quite different.
Whether you’re the client or the service provider, business relations and contractual obligations outlined between parties can break down or fail for a myriad of reasons.
While it’s convenient to assume that simple ineptitude, laziness, or an inability to “see eye-to-eye” are to blame, sometimes the problems run deeper than this. If your IT solutions business has been experiencing an excessive number of miscommunications or complete work breakdowns, it’s time to start reviewing your operational processes and seeing if SLA-related fails might be to blame.
SLA is short for service-level agreements. These are simply contracts or understandings that are either intra-office, with external service providers, or between a company and its clients. An SLA outlines:
Scope of work
Key metrics that are used as benchmarks to determine the success of the contract
But, a good SLA will also clearly list penalties if the contracted party fails to deliver on the negotiated services or products.
Why SLA Failures are Harmful
While SLAs are usually discussed in the technology vendor ecosystem, they could ultimately be used in any setting where an individual or business is attempting to contract another individual or business to be a service provider or deliver physical products. However, when clients are relying on your IT services and you don’t deliver, this is a problem. Besides the frustration of working with a vendor who fails to deliver, SLA failures can cost you and your clients financially.
Research suggests that SLA-related failures can cause as much as $7,000 to $9,000 in lost revenue for every minute of a systemwide outage. And that figure doesn’t take into account the legal liability your firm is exposed to or the potential for data breaches. Let’s not forget that these failures can also damage your firm’s reputation and brand it as an unreliable vendor that’s best avoided — ultimately hurting your bottom line. So, before entering into another SLA, be smart and review your business practices to ensure that you’re not setting yourself up for failure with these common mistakes.
Common SLA Fails and How to Fix Them
There are several reasons for SLA failure that are commonly found within the IT service provider niche. Consider the following issues and best practices to remedy them.
Lingering Patchwork Solutions
Maybe you told yourself that as the business scaled you would get around to streamlining processes through one core system. But instead, your business grew and you simply added on new solutions without realizing that the multitude of patches you created don’t work well together. Ultimately, your operational procedures are too disjointed and now you’re essentially running on pure chaos.
Disjointed operations don’t work — especially if you have multiple teams or distributed workers attempting to handle a variety of complex tasks like emergency response. Get rid of the piecemeal approach and get serious about incorporating a single adaptive platform so you can manage everything in one place. If making a platform from the ground up is unrealistic, there are third-party solutions, like HipLink, that can be quickly integrated into your business to streamline your activities.
Batch and Blast Mission Critical Alerts
No one wants to be pestered by irrelevant messages, including your staff. If you’re sending mission-critical alerts to a company-wide list, you’re doing it wrong. This simply leads to desensitization and trains your staff to ignore company alerts. And as a result, you most likely struggle with slow response times and confusion over who the accurate recipients and responders should be.
Batch and blast alerts might work for generic email lists and party promoters, but they don’t make sense if you’re in the business of responding to emergencies. Instead, it’s time to incorporate an alert messaging solution that can be customized to specify who should receive a message based on the type of emergency that’s logged. Additionally, ensuring that you’re sending alerts to on-duty employees, as well as members of the relevant department is critical too.
Hierarchies are Poorly Defined, Leading to Operational Confusion
While you know that not everyone needs to be the first responder when a crisis arises, you don’t seem to know what to do when a problem gets too large for the initial team to manage or if the original delegates don’t reply. This is a problem as that means a situation is languishing — or getting worse — while your team struggles to figure out who should be looped in for further direction.
Again, a customizable automated system that allows you to build hierarchies and designate secondary (or even tertiary) points of contact is critical. This would ensure that if team members labeled as the first line of defense fail to reply to those mission-critical alerts, you have a platform already coded to move through the on-duty or on-call staff and up the chain of command if necessary.
Too Many Stakeholders in the Chat
As the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth. While you want to keep everyone apprised of the situation, if you’re looping in all non-essential internal and external team members in the same chat with the mission-critical IT team before taking the necessary steps, your service outages are going to drag on longer than necessary. More importantly, those clients might not stick with you much longer.
Don’t leave clients, internal teams, or external vendors in the dark. But, it’s best not to push their communications onto the IT team — who should be focusing on fixing the problem. A good emergency management platform, such as with HipLink, will allow for separate communication channels. This allows non-essential teams and clients to maintain communication without distracting critical team members from their work.
Putting it Together for a Better Future
If your business is IT crisis management and solutions, you can’t afford to leave key business processes to an outdated system that increases your risk of SLA failures. Overhauling your current operational framework doesn’t have to be time-consuming, expensive, or a massive headache.
HipLink is an emergency management and communication software as a service (SaaS) solution that takes the frustration out of streamlining operations and boosting communication thanks to a fully customizable platform. Learn more about how HipLink can improve your business functions, response times, and customer satisfaction.