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Service Level Agreements
The ABC's of SLA's
We are currently involved in creating SLA’s – Service Level Agreements – with our customers. What are service level agreements (SLAs)? They are, essentially, business contracts with our customers that formalize the extent of services Plant Operations will provide. The SLA concept fits nicely within our Vision 2005 Strategic Plan in all four categories: Finance, Customers, Internal Business Processes, and People. By formally documenting our basic service levels and using that information with our customers, we create an opportunity to enhance existing service opportunities. These documents form a contractual obligation for both Plant and the customer, much like service contracts do within private industry.
From an internal perspective, we have also found that documented service level agreements plan an important role in managing both employee and organization performance. When service level agreement documentation is shared throughout our service staff, we are then able to link expectations to employee job performance.
Other benefits of Service Level Agreements include opportunities to
- define basic levels of services to designated buildings or departments
- define procedures corresponding to important areas or programs
- consolidate contact listings for specific programs
- document basic or alterable customer needs
- provide clear service expectations and priorities with appropriate staffing
- provide opportunities for Plant services beyond the basics
- establish basic and extended pricing for extra work and/or staffing
- provide tracking of work performance through inspections, measurements and agreed upon reports or graphics
- provide targeted customer satisfaction surveys with Plant work.
- establish recurring communications opportunities between Plant and our customers.
The process begins by identifying, documenting and understanding the preventative and corrective maintenance needs of our customers. After we analyze this information with the customer, we can move forward to structure service enhancements to Plant’s basic level of service. Frequent service enhancements include trading service hours of one type for service hours of another type, or “buying up” on extended services such as additional cleanings. Most departments have identified the priorities of the Plant services they desire. Service level agreements highlight those needs to Plant and this information is shared with our staff.
We believe that service level agreements are effective for every department within Plant Operations. Currently, we have an SLA in place with the Hospital for maintenance/engineering support and a cyclical painting program. We have also established agreements with the Dental School, Athletics (Crisler Arena air handling systems), and Property Disposition (freon recovery and management). We have reached a tentative agreement to support the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). Many of our customers such as the Medical School and LS&A are anxiously waiting to participate in the write up process that leads to these agreements.
Plant Operations’ flexibility within this process helps our customers make the most of their own budgets. Departments can project an annual budget with more certainty in their operational forecasting, since these agreements define cost and payment schedule regularity. Responsibility of Authority is also defined in regards to who approves “the extras”, or who the “top dogs” are for each contractual relationship! Since SLA’s are meant to be dynamic documents, major changes in programs, equipment or space serviced can be made at any time through formalized contract modifications.