Managed print services (MPS) play a crucial role in optimizing print environments, reducing costs, and improving productivity. However, entrusting your print infrastructure to an external provider requires careful consideration and the establishment of clear expectations. If you are in the market for MPS, don't forget to discuss service level agreements (SLAs) when seeking out providers.
Let's take a look at why SLAs are vital and what you should consider when creating and negotiating them.
What is an SLA, and why is it important?
An SLA is a contract between a service provider and their client specifying the expected level of service to be provided. It acts as a blueprint defining the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties. An SLA is particularly crucial when hiring an MPS provider as it ensures transparency, accountability, and measurable performance.
An SLA matters for several reasons. Firstly, it provides clarity by detailing the services included in the agreement, minimizing misunderstandings and miscommunication. With a well-defined SLA, both you and your provider have a shared understanding of the scope of work, preventing potential disputes down the line.
Secondly, an SLA establishes performance metrics that enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of your MPS provider. It sets specific targets and measurable objectives, such as response times, issue resolution time frames, and uptime guarantees. By holding the provider accountable to these metrics, you can ensure that you receive the level of service you expect and pay for.
Lastly, an SLA serves as a means of protection and recourse. It is what will empower you to take action if the provider fails to meet the agreed-upon standards. This could mean requesting compensation, terminating or renegotiating the agreement, or seeking alternative service providers.
What are the key components of an SLA?
A good SLA covers the following service and management elements:
- Service scope – This outlines the specific services provided by the MPS provider, including details on equipment, maintenance, supplies, and support. It should clearly state what is included and what the limitations or exclusions are.
- Guaranteed availability – This specifies the provider's commitment to ensuring the availability of services, such as uptime guarantees and scheduled maintenance windows. It also clarifies how the provider will handle any unexpected service disruptions.
- Client and provider responsibilities – This defines the obligations of both parties involved, including the provider's job to deliver services and the client's job to ensure their requirements for service delivery are met.
- Guaranteed response times or issue resolution time frames – This sets clear timelines for the provider's response to service requests and problem resolution, ensuring that issues are dealt with promptly and downtime is minimized.
- Escalation procedures – In case of service disruptions or unresolved issues, this outlines the steps to be taken in escalating concerns and resolving disputes.
- Performance measurement and reporting – This outlines the performance metrics that will be used to evaluate the provider's performance, as well as any reporting obligations. For example, the provider might be responsible for providing regular reports on service levels and usage as well as response times.
- Dispute resolution – This sets out the procedure for resolving any disputes between the client and provider. It may include arbitration or mediation, depending on the agreement, and should also cover any applicable laws or regulations.
- Shielding from third-party litigation – If the provider is held liable for any legal issues arising from their services, this section outlines the client's protection.
- SLA adjustments – This details the process for amending or renegotiating the agreement if necessary, covering items such as notice periods, approval procedures, and conditions.
When seeking an MPS provider, it's essential to establish a solid foundation for a successful partnership. By taking the time to thoroughly plan and negotiate your SLA, you can ensure that you have a clear understanding of your obligations and are in the best possible position to achieve your desired outcomes.
Related reading: Managed print services: Understanding the 5 key pricing models
If you are looking for a reliable and customer-centric MPS provider, reach out to Complete Document Solutions. Our team of experts is dedicated to delivering exceptional print services tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today to see if we are the right fit for your managed print requirements.