SLA Software Development – What You Need to Know
A service level agreement (SLA) is a crucial document that doesn’t get enough attention when creating contracts and setting expectations for services to be delivered. Typically, they are used for outsourcing software development needs, and ChampSoft feels that they are essential to the optimal delivery of a development project.
The SLA terms are a critical part of the contract for a service provider. In most cases, you work with an outsourcing company for support or software development.
Whilst ChampSoft recognise the importance of a generic contractual SLA, we have also devised our own Client SLA which expresses exactly how we will work with you. It is our promise to you, and will be a benchmark and guide to our service and support proposition.
Overall, the SLA is the starting point for engagement for a particular service. A customer will need to know what commitments are included and read through the services provided through this contract.
Please call today for an appointment to discuss your needs or continue reading to learn more about the SLA.
Components of a Service Level Agreement
ChampSoft have designed our Client SLA in acronym format. It is woven through the DNA of our business and our brand.
The ChampSoft Client SLA is known and observed by all ChampSoft employees. They will be briefed on it during interview, onboarding, training and appraisal. It features in our internal documentation for one reason: To ensure that at all times every colleague has it front and centre in their minds.
It is our promise to you, and is as follows:
- Consistency – The same brilliant service regardless of project size, sector, complexity or value.
- Humility – We know that our customers are important, and we intend to over-deliver with every project. We are brilliant listeners who are motivated to get you the best results.
- Ahead of the Game – We are the Software Visionaries. We live and breathe our work. We take pride in being at the cutting edge.
- Modular – We code in a modular format which means that our projects are secure, upgradeable and dependable. We also encourage a modular approach to problem-solving.
- Partnership – We understand the importance of checking in with clients inside and outside of project milestones. We will work with you, to the extent of consultancy and staff augmentation. We understand the power of teamwork.
- Standardisation – We are passionate about process and follow a process-driven methodology which benefits our clients through efficiencies.
- Openness – Our project managers will ensure that you are integral to the development process. At the end of the project, we want to empower you to be the guardians of your own software solution.
- Feedback – We understand the value of feedback and our PDCA approach builds this into our methodology. We will not shy away from any form of feedback; rather as your provider, it is something we encourage.
- Tenacious – We have never given up on a problem. We work as a team to break problems down into individual challenges. We are passionate about solving problems!
Components of a Generic Service Level Agreement
The service commitments outlined in the Service Level Agreement should cover the essential elements in specific detail. These are the following components that each service level agreement must contain, and the service provider and contractor must agree to them:
- Service – This is the action or service that the outsourcing partner provides. For instance, your internet provider offers internet access and may have specifications for network uptime.
- Measurement – This metric quantifies the service commitment of the provider. For example, the internet provider may have to provide 99.999 percent availability.
- Support Interval – This is the measurement that is captured at defined intervals. It could be each time someone calls the helpdesk, every month, or based on the average of all tickets. There could be different service levels and options based on the interval.
- Obligations – Some SLAs include obligations that the partner and customers must fulfill to enforce the document, for example software maintenance. It’s common for the client to be required to declare a violation to exercise their right to get penalty payments from the partner.
- Penalty – If the partner fails to comply with the component obligations and commits an SLA violation, they must pay a penalty. For subscription-based agreements, the penalty is to issue service credits on the last month paid. However, for software development outsourcing, the penalty might result in the loss of an agreed-upon bonus payment or percentage. Customers often hold this until the project is successfully completed and the SLA components are met.
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Key Benefits of Service Level Agreements
Many people come to us and ask why service level agreements are needed in the contract for software outsourcing. Here are a few of the benefits:
SLAs define and align the expectations on service performance from the relationship in a measurable way. They ensure that the partner is accountable and delivers on their promises, which reduces the risk of surprises.
Customer Service Focus
An SLA helps partners remain focused on what the client needs. It outlines the scope and timing for what’s to be provided and how/when to resolve issues.
Establish Measurable Standards
Your SLA sets a clear standard of performance for the partner. The key metrics can vary based on the goals and project. With that, the SLA defines the types of reports and the frequency for sending them.
Outline Remedies for Poor Performance
The SLA penalties must provide the partner with an incentive to fulfill their commitments to the client. If they fall short, they must remedy it. With that, SLAs should create a dispute resolution process to assist with mediation requirements.
Types of SLAs from a Service Provider
ChampSoft can help you create the right service level agreement with the right metrics for your situation. Overall, it’s up to you as to what the service provider must offer. Typically, they provide many services, and each one might have an SLA attached to it.
Since you’re more focused on your business instead of writing SLAs, we can help you craft one. Here are the most common variations we use:
If the software runs in the cloud or you’ve got telco/internet circuits to the office, you may want an SLA for uptime in the subscription agreement. With that, outsourcing agreements including SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS components may want to focus on availability, too.
Most companies care more about availability during their standard business hours. If the end-users don’t require more, you don’t have to use a 24/7 availability metric. We can help you determine the right metric for the parties involved.
When using the cloud infrastructure, it’s best to have an SLA to determine the speed of the system. This can have a significant impact on your abilities. If the software development partner delivers major components, this could be a great idea.
How can you measure the response time? Most companies craft an SLA based on a few user functions. However, you may also quantify the expected response time. We can help you determine the right service type without making things overly complicated for you.
Helpdesk services often require SLAs for response times to determine how long a live agent has to respond to the ticket. With that, there could be a time for resolution stated, such as getting all tickets completed within one month.
For example, service providers are expected to:
- Respond to newly posted issues immediately
- Estimate the work effort for any proposed scope changes
- Provide weekly emails on team progress
Partners offering helpdesk or support desk needs often send a feedback survey. You may require that the scores measure a specific percentage. For example, you want 95 percent of the people using the helpdesk to be happy with the response times.
SLAs to Report Performance Metrics for Agile
For agile software development projects, you might want an SLA commitment from the service provider to report the metrics used. Reporting processes are typically negotiated when the services are rendered, so regular maintenance should be another SLA.
It often looks like this: “The vendor must provide a monthly report for these metrics…”
Using an SLA like this accomplishes two things:
- The metrics reported on become the baseline measurements for improvement.
- The partner is accountable for reporting and measurement for the duration of the project.
What metrics might you expect in the periodic report? Companies that use agile development methods can use new techniques to estimate effort levels and complexity.
Benchmarking the SLA
How do you know the performance standards to hold the software development to? The SLA must contain a benchmark provision for regular reviews on service levels and much more.
Most service providers have a deep knowledge of the services you need. ChampSoft can help you figure out the benchmarking terms to include prior to agreement. Plus, our experts guide the development of your SLA based on your business outcomes and needs.
Why Choose ChampSoft
A service level agreement (SLA) is crucial for any software project to layout the business requirements and what the service provider should do.
However, we believe that we have gone above and beyond by devising our own Client SLA that crystallizes our promise to you.
This SLA underpins our company values. We are beholden to it, and prepared to be measured by it. It is our contract with you.
As our client, we make sure that our services are tailored to your needs. When you’re finished, you have a documented agreement that can be used for various service providers to ensure that the software is done right. Please call us today to find out more about the service level agreement service and how we can help.