Often times when we begin work with an organization to recover a program, we find BPMS product capabilities are under utilized or incorrectly leveraged. This is particularly true of Service Level Agreement management capabilities, which are often considered as an afterthought and added to the process only when it is ‘finished’.
A correctly implemented process integrates the management of contracted / expected service levels into the project execution and raises visibility to work at risk early enough to address the risk before it becomes an operational issue. When we define our processes with awareness of our SLAs we can identify potential issues before introducing them into the operations and can focus the process on meeting our measurable commitments.
As we define processes, coarse SLAs can be identified and decomposed to identify more targeted SLAs that in turn drive qualification of the feasibility of a proposed solution to meet those commitments. This can then be verified through simulation to further identify how other resources and groups are impacted by any shortfall to inform prioritization in addressing any gaps to maximize overall resource utilization and reduce idle time. Additionally, these efforts can identify cross training opportunities where workers in the affected downstream groups might be brought online to address any shortfalls in SLA adherence.
Early introduction of SLA requirements in the solution creation process also introduces opportunities to define a test strategy that includes simulation and verification of the process as being capable of driving execution of work to meet the majority of those SLAs. Such tools and discipline that are used during testing can then be leveraged by line managers to monitor production performance and identify further opportunities to improve.
So why do we not see inclusion of SLA management as a primary focal area more often? It’s difficult. Commodity based staffing focuses more on provisioning groups of individual performers who can meet staffing points defined in contracts governing the solution builds. Creating solutions that focus on SLA adherence introduce contract related risks if the SLAs are not met. But not addressing SLAs early can squander opportunities to seize market share through improvements in customer experience. Every program has a unique risk profile, so consider if the benefit is worth the risk.