10 July 2024

What are some best practices for negotiating a service level agreement with a service provider?

Service Level Agreement - Related 3

Here are some best practices for effectively negotiating a service level agreement (SLA) with a service provider:

Understand Your Needs

Before starting negotiations, clearly define your business needs, requirements, and objectives. Determine the core functions and processes you want to outsource, expected outcomes, risks to mitigate, and how you will measure and monitor service quality. This will help you set appropriate SLA scope, specifications, and standards.

Research the Market

Evaluate different service providers based on their capabilities, experience, reputation, pricing, and how they handle SLAs. Check references, testimonials, and case studies to narrow down options and select the best fit. Discuss options with key stakeholders to gain additional insights.

Communicate Clearly

Explain your needs, expectations, and priorities transparently to the provider. Use clear, measurable indicators and metrics, avoid ambiguous language, and document every agreement in writing. Establish regular communication channels.

Negotiate Key Terms

Aim for higher service level commitments, especially on uptime. If the percentage is non-negotiable, focus on scoping language and exclusions. Request higher credit amounts for service failures. Balance incentives and penalties to motivate and enforce service quality.

Measure Performance

Don’t rely solely on provider reports. Measure performance against SLA targets yourself using a combination of provider data and your own monitoring. This provides accountability and a basis for claiming compensation for failures.

Align Expectations

Ensure internal SLAs are synchronised with those of your providers. Avoid making external commitments that exceed your internal SLAs. Communicate changing requirements to providers and request SLA amendments as needed.

By following these best practices, you can negotiate SLAs that clearly define expectations, provide accountability, and drive high-quality service delivery from your providers. Regular monitoring and alignment are key to maintaining effective SLAs over time.

[1] https://contractnerds.com/how-to-draft-and-negotiate-service-level-agreements/
[2] https://www.linkedin.com/advice/3/what-best-practices-negotiating-slas-skills-it-outsourcing [3] https://www.zluri.com/blog/service-level-agreement-best-practices/
[4] https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2021/3/12-service-level-agreement-sla-best-practices-it-leaders [5] https://vendoriq.co.uk/guides/negotiating-service-level-agreements-slas/