Welcome to this week’s Third Party Thursday! My name is Ashley Roberts and I’m a Relationship Manager & Paralegal at Venminder.
In today’s session, we’re going to go through service level agreement best practices for your vendor contracts.
An area we spent a lot of time, when I was working at my last institution, was discussing and developing the appropriate steps to adequately manage service level agreements. As you will recall, service level agreements are written into the contract to very carefully define the expectations of performance surrounding the relationship.
Let’s focus on the best practices –
First, make sure the SLA is very straightforward in layman’s terms yet contains enough detail so that your company and the third party know what is expected.
Second, agree on specific standards – whether it’s services/system uptime, reliability or speed of answer.
Third, agree on how frequently it will be measured. How frequently, and in what sort of units, will it be provided to your management team.
Fourth, identify the appropriate point person on each side of the relationship, as well as an escalation or stand-in person if the point person is not available.
Fifth, make sure there are clear provisions for problem resolution and complaint management.
Sixth, have pre-agreed upon procedures on how to handle disputes in any portion of the relationship – such as if you feel they are not meeting a particular standard but the service provider disagrees. How are disputes resolved?
Seventh, are there factors that may allow for changes in the terms of the agreement or in disaster circumstances for waiving the SLA altogether?
Finally, you’ll want to be sure that there are clear terms on how SLA non-compliance could lead to the termination of the relationship.
SLAs are a powerful tool to help manage the vendor relationship but everyone’s role needs to be clear.
Again, I’m Ashley and thanks for tuning in to this week’s third party Thursday; if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to our series.