Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of the success of your Service Level Agreement is the manager who oversees its development, implementation and performance. While there are many different reasons why you should designate an SLA manager, many businesses are confused regarding who should take this job. Because of the importance and value an SLA has over the communications and expectations between a customer and a business, many organizations choose to hire a full-time SLA manager.
Roles and Responsibilities of an SLA Manager
While the exact responsibilities an SLA manager may have varies based upon the type of work the business performs, there are several primary roles this professional must carry out. Before assigning this position, it’s important that the professional is able to fulfill the following roles and responsibilities. You may be surprised at how dynamic this position truly is.
- Selling Responsibility – An SLA manager has the responsibility of selling the benefits of the Service Level Agreement and its terms to current and potential customers. If the manager is unable to clearly define the benefits and requirements of each section, you may be presented with a customer who agreed to the SLA under false pretenses.
- Negotiating Responsibility – SLA managers are designed to work directly with both parties to create an agreement that satisfies both of their requirements. Therefore, an SLA manager also works as a professional negotiator capable of opening up the floor for debate and offering constructive suggestions to move along this sometimes complex process.
- Conflict Manager – There are times when actual, or hypothetical, service delivery issues arise. When this is the case, an SLA manager is responsible for managing this conflict in a fast and effective manner. The best person suited for this job is one who’s able to quickly gather information, identify issues and proactively work with both parties to resolve these issues.
The following are other responsibilities and expectations that fall into this professional position:
- Serving as the point of contact between two or more parties regarding the SLA and any concerns that are created due to the actual agreement or delivery of service from the business to customer (or vice versa).
- Service as the primary contact when an issue must be escalated. Therefore, the SLA manager must be able to look at each situation objectively, not merely for the benefit of his employer.
- Calculating and implementing changes to the Service Level Agreement. There are many times when an SLA must be modified based upon circumstances or alterations within an industry or client.
- Facilitating conflict resolution steps. When an issue arises between a business and a customer, it’s the responsibility of the SLA manager to facilitate the necessary processes to begin conflict resolution procedures.
- Assess the effectiveness and validity of Service Level Agreement. Not only is this professional responsible for overseeing the implementation of an SLA, but he must continually assess the effectiveness of a current SLA and determine whether or not any changes should be implemented to continually provide excellent communications between the business and the customer.
There is nothing quite as competitive as the digital marketplace. Unlike physical stores, which have many opportunities to attract and capture customer attention, eCommerce stores have only seconds to sustain visitor attention. In fact, over 70 percent of Internet users admit to leaving a website if loading times exceeded five seconds. Moreover, if the overall functionality of a website refused to remain consistent, the majority of Internet users have no issues abandoning their task and moving on.
Because of the high demands of modern Internet users, website administrators must narrow their focus beyond creating viable content highlighted by intuitive website design. Protecting the performance and stability of a website is the foundation of any successful website – regardless of its intended purpose.
Protecting Critical Business Processes
The problem with many website monitoring solutions is its inability to truly monitor critical business processes. The modern digital enterprise is based upon complex infrastructure, which utilizes a myriad of physical and virtual components. While your website may be available, which signals an “OK” cue to your monitoring solution, several critical business processes, such as a shopping cart or information pages, may not be successfully completing their transactions.
Unfortunately, visitors don’t care whether or not your website is technically available if they can’t complete actions or access pages in an expected time frame. By monitoring various web applications, you can avoid a lot of problems with these processes. However, when these processes and pages are monitored through a well-appointed monitoring tool, the reputation and reliability of your website is safeguarded.
Real User Monitoring for Real Retention
While synthetic website monitoring ensures specific processes and functions within your enterprise are operational, they feature limitations in terms of real-time data. Synthetic test results are limited by the scope of its features. For example, tests are run using specific browsers, and the test is successful; however, a user with a non-tested browser experiences critical errors. In this scenario, a system administrator wouldn’t be aware of the problem unless a visitor comments on the lack of performance or functionality.
Prevent mistaken success by implementing real user monitoring, or RUM. This method of website monitoring captures data derived from actual users, and their experiences. This level of monitoring showcases the true performance and reliability of your site. The more control you have over monitoring, the greater your visitor attraction and retention rate.
To maximize the effectiveness of this powerful monitoring technique, utilize a RUM solution capable of delivering full page monitoring and data capturing. Utilize this information to then optimize your site according to the end user perspective and watch your bounce rate reduce while your average visitor duration increases.
Safeguarding the visibility and popularity of your website should be a top priority for any digital enterprise. Establishing a smooth and fully-operational IT infrastructure is a multi-step process. The needs of the business must be continually monitored and managed in order to ensure all critical issues and fixes are attended to within a timely manner. While there are many different methods in which this goal is accomplished, the use of website monitoring solutions is among the most popular and effective.
When it comes to determining which processes to monitor and manage, many network administrators find themselves at a loss. Because the modern website features dynamic content and embedded content, effective monitoring the most critical processes can become lost in the crowd. While determining the ideal processes to monitor and manage is based upon your unique website infrastructure, the following processes are considered essential when it comes to safeguarding the visibility and reputation of your digital enterprise.
The notion of monitoring the availability and uptime of a website is nothing new. In fact, there are many free monitoring solutions designed to PING your website to determine whether or not it is available. This is one situation where web application testing might be useful, especially in an enterprise situation (and there are tools out there that are free too). However, many of these free services lack the monitoring scope that’s needed in order to sustain continuous availability.
When monitoring the availability of your enterprise, it’s imperative that you place monitoring metrics regarding:
- Overall Availability (website uptime)
- Per-Page Loading Times (response times for each page; not just the website)
- Web Server Response Times (the duration it takes for your server to complete a request)
The majority of modern websites, whether private blogs or sprawling eCommerce verticals, utilize a database to execute specific tasks. In fact, the involvement of a database is essential in order to complete many common tasks and business processes. Because of this, it’s imperative that your monitoring solution effectively monitor the availability, performance and completed requests. By narrowing your monitoring capabilities to your database, you’re able to safeguard the performance and interactivity between the enterprise and your visitors/customers.
Without an effective email client, it’s impossible to remain in-contact with your customers. For many digital enterprises, an unreliable email server result in disaster. When selecting a website monitoring solution, choose one that utilizes various techniques and features to monitor the availability, response times and success-rate of outbound and inbound emails.
Real-Time Monitoring Reports
While nightly or weekly reports are essential to monitor the overall performance and functionality of your website, it’s imperative that your solution provides real-time monitoring alerts. The goal of this monitoring method is to catch errors and issues as soon as they happen. By doing so, you may implement a fix or correction that prevents a host of visitors from experiencing the same error.
Perhaps one of the biggest misunderstands surrounding Service Level Agreements, or SLAs, is that this is far from a simplistic document. While it’s true that these documents are designed to define the performance of your service based upon a set of pre-determined parameters, its included clauses are designed to clearly cover all provisions, obligations, reporting methodologies, rewards and punishments for not meeting these designated metrics.
There is a host of elements that work together to cultivate a well-rounded Service Level Agreemen; however, the following three steps are considered the essential foundation of any carefully constructed SLA.
Establish Your Service Parameters
Perhaps the most important step when it comes to cultivating a thorough Service Level Agreement is the establishment of your server parameters. Before going forward with the creation process, it’s essential to create the performance parameters for your service. While you must meet industry-standard performance metrics, delve deeper into how your business will meet and/or exceed these metrics. It’s only when this is successfully accomplished you can move on to the next steps.
Disaster Recovery Pland and Prevention Methods
Unexpected disasters are an unfortunate reality for all businesses. When it comes to the digital services you render, a Service Level Agreement must clearly define how your business plans to handle a disaster, should one occur. Along with details how servers are backed up and how sensitive information is archived for protection, it’s essential to detail the exact methods your business uses to protect and prevent a disaster of any size. Along with this information, make sure your SLA outlines the steps that are to be taken should a disaster affect their data or server performance. Remember, only outline a method of disaster recovery and prevention that your business can adhere to. False statements regarding disaster recovery could result in legal action should a disaster occur and steps found on the SLA aren’t followed.
Provider and Customer Obligations
This is one of the most personalized sections within a Service Level Agreement, as it specifically refers to your specific service or product. That being noted, your business must establish a set of parameters when it comes to the various obligations of both the provider (your business) and the customer/client. For example, a customer obligation may be to provide necessary documentation to support the creation of their product. A provider’s obligation may be to deliver a product or service within a specified time frame. Regardless, this is one of the most important sections to fill out in great detail. The more room you leave for interpretation within this section, the greater your likelihood of an unpleasant customer encounter. Leave no rock unturned, as they say.