Everyone wants their tech issues to be resolved quickly. Today with the Internet, email, mobile phones, and messaging, we move more quickly than we did in the past. Perhaps “immediate response” isn’t realistic, but you need to feel secure that your technology problems will be addressed in a timely manner.
If your IT service company in Calgary hasn’t provided a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with guaranteed response times, it’s probably time to look for another company.
What Is A Service Level Agreement?
An SLA is a contracted agreement that includes things like what you’re willing to pay for specific IT services and what your IT company will provide. It contains many things, and one is how quickly they will respond to a particular technical issue.
It’s important to keep in mind that guaranteed response times vary. For example, if you want a guaranteed 5-minute response time, your IT Company may be able to do this, but it will require keeping a tech on your site every workday. Are you willing to pay for this?
Or a response time of 4 hours or less might require that you pay for priority service. Every IT company is different, just like your business is different from others.
However, the right IT company will include response times in their SLA so you’ll know that they’ll respond to incidences within specified periods of time. This makes them accountable for getting back to you within a reasonable amount of time. It’s critical that your technology solutions provider in Alberta hold up their end of the bargain by achieving their SLA.
In general, a Service Level Agreement will:
- Identify and define your needs.
- Provide a framework for understanding.
- Simplify complex issues.
- Reduce areas of conflict.
- Encourage dialogue in the event of disputes.
- Eliminate unrealistic expectations.
It will include a wide range of issues such as:
- Performance, Tracking, and Reporting
- Problem Management
- Legal Compliance and Resolution of Disputes
- Customer Duties and Responsibilities
- Confidential Information
- Terms for Termination
- Services to be Delivered (including guaranteed response times)
How Will Your IT Company Measure Response Times?
Response times via phone calls are often measured by the number of rings before your call is answered. Or, they may refer to how quickly your IT service company pledges to reply to your email or call back in response to your voicemail message.
When asking for a suitable response time, your IT company should clearly define their working hours and ensure that you know only these hours are included in their response time.
Believe it or not, if your IT company’s work hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday, a 15-minute response time for your call that was placed on Friday at 4:50 p.m. would be the following Monday at 9:05 a.m.
What About Resolution Times?
This is different from response times. It refers to how long it will take to fully resolve an issue from the time your request was initially logged.
Most IT companies will provide a defined range of tasks and assign a target resolution time for each. For example, setting up sign-on credentials for a new employee isn’t as urgent as downtime that can bring your business to a halt.
Just like with response times, resolution times are typically calculated based on agreed working hours. And they will begin from the point your requests were logged.
For example, your IT company may agree that they will resolve a server that goes down within 4 hours if you pay for their high priority service. If you can wait for 8 hours, this could be scaled back to a medium priority. And if you can wait for 48 hours, this would be categorized as a low priority. The higher the priority level, the more you will pay. This is a reasonable scenario and something you should expect.
It’s Important That You Both Agree On What’s Realistic
The most important thing you should do is come to a realistic agreement. To provide the priority service and support you want may require that your IT infrastructure is refreshed.
You can’t expect an IT company to work with a system that is out of date and irreparable. They won’t be able to meet their SLA response and resolution times. You must hold up your end of the bargain by ensuring your IT infrastructure is stable and secure. The best way to do this is to sign on for Managed Services.
Your IT company must do the same. If they don’t have adequate staffing, how can they agree to a 4-hour response time? Targets must be realistic.
What Are Your Responsibilities As Their Client?
As mentioned, your IT company may require that you upgrade your IT infrastructure or sign on to their Network Security Services to help prevent downtime and data breaches.
- Do you need to sign on to Security Awareness Training for your employees to prevent them from being victimized by hackers and phishing?
- Will you be restricted to the type of content your users can download or host on your website?
- How do you report an issue? By phone, email, website form?
What Do You Expect From Your IT Company?
- What specific IT services are they going to deliver?
- What are their regular support hours?
- What about service outside hours? Will there be any additional charges for this?
- How much server space will they provide?
- What about website hosting?
- Is cloud consulting included?
- What kind of connectivity can you expect?
- How long will they store your records? What happens when you no longer need them?
- How will they protect your confidential data?
As you can see, response and resolution times can vary. But what you should expect is that everything is clearly defined in an SLA. Demand nothing less.
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