How to track and meet SLAs as a facility service provider?
The service provider industry is driven by performance measurements and Service-Level Agreements (SLAs). Although the details of service-level agreements vary widely, they almost always specify required levels of availability, reliability, responsiveness, or other attributes of the service. Next to acceptable (minimum) and preferred (low and high target) levels of performance, FM service contracts also usually include remedies or penalties for failure to meet SLAs. Furthermore, it’s important that they define how the performance will be tracked against SLAs and by whom.
Why SLAs are vitally important
Any service agreement without an associated SLA is open to intentional or inadvertent misinterpretation. SLAs are therefore essential to ensure that all parties have the same and clear understanding of the services provided, and the same measure of performance. For the customer, an SLA provides clarification of the actual hard or soft FM services they will get and the agreed-upon levels of performance. For the facility organization, it not only provides protection from unjustified demands or subjective evaluations, but it also offers opportunities for improvement.
Key to a successful approach is:
- Jointly defining meaningful service-level objectives focused on the service recipient’s business needs
- Setting target metrics with clearly defined data points
- Measuring and examining results to drive continuous improvement of activities and processes
It’s easy to see that SLAs are excellent tools for making service performance visible and accountable. Fines from missed SLAs, however, can eat into a provider’s profit margins. How to avoid non-compliance penalties and leverage SLAs to set yourself apart from the competition?
Tools to help meet SLAs
For monitoring and proactive management of various SLAs across multiple customer accounts and locations, a software tool is practically indispensable. It’s the only realistic way that service providers can keep track of SLA compliance across various clients, activities, and priorities. Consequently, it has become common practice for service firms to use software that provides automated tracking, alerting and reporting. And that integrates with ticketing, work orders, scheduling and stock management.
How to set it up
The configuration of SLAs is part of the overall setup of a client, their locations, natures of activities, workflows, statuses, and prioritization. To meet SLAs consistently requires support from the organization and correct data input in the field. This is facilitated through mobile apps that enhance data collection accuracy and speed.
To be able to track and communicate SLAs to all stakeholders, you first need to map workflows, tasks, and their criticality. So that you can then correctly configure the software with the right processes. Think this through and streamline processes as much as possible. Remember: an SLA relates to the services the customer receives, and not how the service provider delivers that service. Expect your software solution vendor to help you with best-practice configuration.
Monitoring operational performance
To meet SLAs, it is important to monitor performance at an operational level. A good software tool will provide a clear overview of how your SLAs are doing, for example through colour-coded ticket statuses (e.g. orange = due soon; red = overdue). This enables supervisors and schedulers to adjust or correct a situation while there is still time.
Real-time and historical dashboards and reports
Dashboards and reports provide visibility into performance against service commitments. To support immediate decision making, you can visualize performance through real-time dashboards. These are automatically updated to show the latest data set available. You can also visualize historical data to assess performance over a longer period and demonstrate SLA compliance. Regular reports that pull and aggregate data from different sources will give you deeper insight into performance trends and anomalies.
Smart service delivery
These days, to really stand out and solidify the relationship with your customer, it is not enough to meet SLAs anymore. We’re living in a society of immediacy where people “want it all, and want it now” (as Queen already sang). It’s only natural that building occupants’ service expectations are increasing too. In this context, real-time data from sensors can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction levels. Smart apps not only help service providers to better target services, end-users can also conveniently request on-demand services or give instant feedback.
At MCS Solutions, seasoned FM experts work closely together with product managers and software developers. This results in well-integrated, best-practice software that meets the needs of FM companies. Contact us if you’d like a hands-on experience of our solutions.