Should You Consider Outsourcing Your Service Level Agreement to a Vendor?

Providing service level commitments to your customers helps build trust. However, if you are unequipped to fulfill those guarantees, you could damage your brand or worse, face fines from regulators. Usually the team best equipped to take care of your service is the team that built it. Should you consider outsourcing your SLA commitments to your vendor?

Client Resources

What is a Service Level Agreement?

A service level agreement or SLA is a commitment between a service provider and a client. The service typically offers some agreements around quality, availability, and responsibilities. For example, your mobile operator likely has stipulations in their contracts stating that there will be a minimum uptime commitment and a reasonable expectation of security, etc.

Outsourced SLAs are two or more parties agreeing to be "in it together"

What does an SLA look like?

It varies from service to service, buy typically it will define the following:

Service: The type of service provided and any additional details to continue operating the service. For example, a web application might have an SLA that includes defect-free operation, maintenance of servers and databases, or ensuring consistent uptime, etc.

Performance and Availability: The expected performance of the provided service. For example, requests should take no longer than 3000ms to process. The service should be available at nearly all times. The service should be able to detect and manage DDoS attacks.

Monitoring and Reporting: Often the agreement will include some form of monitoring and reporting. E.g., the web servers will be monitored for CPU usage, Memory Utilization, overall health,  etc. and reports will be generated once per month.

Reporting Channels: Describes how a client can report issues to the service provider, including contact details and the format that the report should be provided.

Response and Resolution Time Frames: Response time frame defines the maximum amount of time from report to the beginning of investigation. Resolution time frame defined the maximum amount of time allowed for the issue to be fixed. If these timeframes are missed repercussions will be levied against the provider.

Repercussions for Missing Commitments: Defines repercussions for the provider when they are unable to meet the commitments outlined in the agreement. This can be different repercussions for different commitments. 

Outsourcing Your Customer-Facing SLA to Your Vendor(s)

Often the commitments you are making to your customers will be reliant on aspects of your system that are managed by your vendors. If this is the case it's often a great idea to outsource your whole SLA or parts of it to your vendor(s).

OOZOU has previously offered SLAs to take over responsibilities for the running the web-services that we have built.

This makes sense for our clients - we built the systems so we are best equipped to solve issues quickly if they arise. We take on the risks and offer our clients peace of mind and brand security.

The alternative to outsourcing is more expensive for a few reasons:

1. Handling SLA commitments in-house requires hiring a team of capable developers.
2. The team must be educated regularly to understand all features being added.
3. In-house developers will need to have out-of-hours contracts to ensure they are available during evenings and weekends.
4. You become responsible for problems your vendor is creating.
5. Missing your commitment resolution deadlines can cost you money.

For the same reasons it doesn't make sense for you to hire a team it wouldn't make sense for a vendor to cover another vendor. With web and mobile development moving at such a fast pace, the SLA would need to be re-evaluated constantly to ensure the SLA covers all aspects of the application. 
If your vendor cannot offer an SLA, we recommend you find one who can.

Need an SLA?

Are you already our client or looking for a vendor that can deliver beautiful mobile and web-apps and offer support... get in touch.

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Joe Woodward
I'm Joe Woodward, a Ruby on Rails fanatic working with OOZOU in Bangkok, Thailand. I love Web Development, Software Design, Hardware Hacking.

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