I’d like to claim that our sales of Highlight come from lovingly-crafted sales campaigns and marketing activity, but I can’t believe the number of ‘Help !’ calls we get from Service Providers who are currently being beaten up by customers over Service Level Agreements.
If you’re a Service Provider selling products with SLAs, be careful : Salespeople are being pressured to sell SLAs based on things they can’t monitor or prove. And some of them are giving in, just to get the deal. Here are some of my favourite SLA stories from the last few months:
- The Government department that laid out 250 metrics for their CSP to report on each month. Each month they pick 20 of those metrics at random to drill into real detail. They haven’t got to the ones the CSP has no information on yet, but they will.
- The MSP that’s paying $15,000 every month in compensation to a customer for breaking Service Levels on a VoIP network. Actually, they’re pretty sure the Service Levels are being met, but they have no monitoring and can’t prove it – so the customer claims the refund, and they have to pay.
- The Provider that built a Managed Class-of-Service Network to carry high-priority traffic, but can only measure Service Levels by sending pings over the low-priority class. The Pings will be the first thing to get dropped, so the network always appears to miss targets, and they have to pay Service Credits.
- The Salesman who sold a network with SLAs defined using one-minute testing, only to be told their monitoring platform was fixed at five minutes, company-wide.
Significantly, there are no widely-accepted standards for Data or Application SLAs ; and Enterprises are way more agile than Service Providers in rolling their own, leaving the CSPs to play catch-up. If you’re a CSP promising levels of service, it’s worth taking the time to make sure there's a closed loop between your Sales Teams, who write those SLA cheques, and Service Management who have to cash them...
- Published: 09 October 2012