The only SLA is “fast enough”

An “SLA”, or service-level agreement, defines the level of service expected by a customer from a vendor, laying out the metrics by which that service is measured. At Suite3, our agreements offer agreement clients a “Gold Level SLA” defined as responding to all requests with service coordination within 90 minutes.  In reality, the only SLA that really matters is “fast enough”, and we work hard to exceed those expectations in all of our engagements. For verification, we look to our survey results which regularly include comments like these received last month: “Fast efficient resolution” and “quick, professional, effective”.

However, we also maintain internal SLAs that we measure against for each of three service categories – Normal, Priority, and Emergency -which are determined by the scope of Impact and Level of Urgency. 

The following is a copy of our internal SLA grid – it’s a balance between Urgency (based on number of users affected) and Impact (low would be an irritation, but you could work – medium would be you could work with workarounds or occasional interruptions – high would be major business processes are down):

Suite3 Gold SLA Matrix
Suite3 Gold SLA Matrix

So based on the combination of Impact and Urgency of the request, a classification of Normal (yellow), Priority (orange) or Emergency (red) is set.

As a result, we measure SLAs on three key events:

  1. Time to Respond – how long it takes before a resource is scheduled for triage – for all three (Normal, Priority, and Emergency), the goal is 90 minutes.
  2. Time to Plan – how long before a technician has completed first touch work and has developed a plan for what (if anything) else needs to be done as next steps.  This is usually conducted remotely unless we happen to have a tech scheduled to be on-site the following day – Normal is 8 business hours, Priority is 4 business hours, Emergency is 2 business hours
  3. Time to Resolution – how long before all work in regards to the request has been completed to satisfaction – Normal is 40 business hours, Priority is 16 business hours, Emergency is 8 business hours.

Now, for clarification, these SLAs are exclusively for user-level support requests – i.e. “Mary in Accounting can’t print” or “John in Marketing can’t connect via his VPN” – any project work, audit remediation, or similar requests aren’t governed by SLAs as all work is coordinated based upon the requirements of the client and often revolve around the timing of work with other 3rd parties like software vendors, other technology vendors for things like cabling, phone systems, HVAC, or such, or construction timelines.  We actually have a “Low” category for these sorts of items which exempts them from the SLA calculations in our backend system.

If a client wishes to emphasize SLA importance when submitting a request, be aware that when you email in a service request to our [email protected] address, everything will default to Normal category.  Our service coordinators may choose to escalate the status to Priority or Emergency based on the content of the request.  If you submit a service request via our client web portal, you can set the SLA level, so if you want it to come in to our system already coded as Priority or Emergency, the portal can accomplish that for you.