Small Business IT Solutions: The Fundamental Flaw of an SLA

Posted by Sean Kline on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 @ 07:49 AM

turbotek small business IT solutions Leading IT managed service providers are proactive solutions providers who partner with your business to implement IT best practices as a function of meeting your business goals. What sets leading IT managed service providers apart is their ability to be more than ingredient providers. Ingredient providers offer a specific component to meet a particular need often in a reactive manner. They may focus on fixing problems as they arise, akin to functioning as a fire fighter armed with nothing more than a fire extinguisher. Leading IT managed service providers operate under the assumption that IT is a tool leveraged by the business to meet its goals. Rather than waiting for a fire, they install a sprinkler system overhead to minimize any potential issues in the form of IT best practices.

Leading IT managed service providers recognize that an SLA (a service-level agreement) is a function of providing an ingredient, not a proactive, comprehensive solution to IT infrastructure. Because the purpose of an SLA is to guarantee minimum service levels, all you receive under the SLA are those minimums; there is no incentive to do better than what has been promised in the SLA. That is the fundamental flaw of an SLA.

For example, let’s say uptime is crucial to your ability to deliver services to your client. If you simply choose an IT service provider because they guarantee to respond to downtime within four hours, you may lose the potential of having a proactive solution that can minimize downtime to minutes or even seconds. When every second of downtime costs you business, there is more to responding quickly to an emergency than making sure you have an SLA. Focusing on the SLA without ensuring a solid IT infrastructure may leave you vulnerable.

Thinking only in terms of SLAs can be cost prohibitive, because every decrease in response time costs you more. It is impossible to guarantee the level of service that you would like. By shifting away from investing in IT component by component and SLA by SLA, instead implementing a proactive IT support process in place that highlights infrsstructure misalignments that impact the business, small business owners can refocus their IT goals to achieve operational excellence and focus on achieving a measurable return on investment.

Why is operational excellence important? Operational excellence allows you to deliver results to your customers, and ultimately, delivering results to your customers is the purpose of your IT infrastructure. Shifting the focus off an SLA and on to creating an IT system that aligns with your business is what you need to make your business better.

SLAs are natural offerings for ingredient providers. It’s easy to plan for, it’s easy to price – but it doesn’t solve the inherent problem of having a reactive IT infrastructure. The leaders in this industry understand that results-based services provide small business owners with much more comprehensive solutions than simply buying a service with an SLA. It often requires a shift in focus on the part of the business owner, but when proactive and comprehensive managed IT infrastructure is implemented, your customers – and your business – can benefit from the results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rather than take a piecemeal approach to IT, implement best IT practices as a function of meeting your business goals
  • SLAs are fundamentally flawed because they force a business to accept the lowest service level instead of the best
  • The purpose of your IT infrastructure is to achieve operational excellence so you can deliver the best results to your customers

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Topics: Small Business IT Resources, small business it support, IT Managed Services, small business IT infrastructure