Holler-and-Scream SLA Management


    In my last job, we had a service provider in San Francisco furnish us with a T1 line.Our business was entirely based on our server being available globally across many timezones, 24/7/365. So the T1 line was sort of very key to our business!

    The service provider had a fancy agreement that promised 99.99% availability in our contract under the SLA section. They also provided some statistics online that we were suspecting did not match our real world experience!

    Monday mornings were dreadful! We could almost smell a newbie network technician playing with their routers, maybe learning new tricks on the CISCO Gadget2900 that had something to do with the routing tables. Before you knew it, our monitoring systems were sending me alerts every 90 seconds that the T1 line was down (we used a separate T1 line for our offices – so the monitoring system was still able to send out alerts).

    If you ever had an text message every 90 seconds with bad news, the sound of that ring tone indicating that incoming message is forever seared into your brains! I still hate that BrandX phone I used to have that had that distintive ring tone for text messages. But I digress!

    Anyway, the upshot of all this was that we got into a "holler-and-scream" mode of SLA management. Everytime I talked to the account representative about the downtime of the T1 line, he used to offer us a month of free service and that’s that. I don’t think neither us nor them benefitted from this approach.

    SLAs written in contracts without any way of reporting and verifying that SLA is pretty much useless! In Lean Six Sigma terms, all that legal fees and efforts in drawing up the SLAs are a Waste!

    Outsourcing is seldom done without fancy SLAs. But unless the SLAs have periodic verifiable reporting, they are meaningless and quickly degenerate into a Holler-and-Scream mode of operation doing neither party any good!

    Are you currently using the Holler-and-Scream approach to managing your outsourced business processes?

    Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    Or is it?