SLAs: ensuring they provide the full picture

02 Sep 2021 - Estimated reading time: 3 mins

As trustees, your admin agreement most likely includes service level agreements (SLAs) – the vehicle through which you hold your administrators to account. In practice, SLAs are generally time based and expressed as the completion of a particular activity within a specified number of working days. In truth, SLAs should be focussed on the desired outcomes for the trustees, what they are trying to measure and why. The number of cases that achieve the SLA may be easy to measure, but how do trustees ensure they are providing the full picture and measuring the overall member experience and not just the statistics?

SLAs can be dangerous/misleading. It is quite possible for an administrator to be achieving very high SLAs and for there still to be lots of member noise. Conversely, it is possible to have relatively low SLAs and for the membership to be content with the service being provided. Members are generally happy as long as they know when and what is going to be delivered, so for example ensuring they receive regular updates when requests are outstanding with a 3rd party.

The only measurement of success that should really matter to trustees is whether member's expectations were met and that any communications the members received provided the information to help members fully understand the choices available to them.

Wayne Berry - Client Manager

So SLAs, whilst important, taken in isolation can be two dimensional and don’t give the trustees the full picture of the service your administrator is providing and should therefore be just one measure of how your administrator is performing. Other qualitative areas to measure the overall service being provided should be:

  • Member surveys – usually issued to all members who have had a member event. They help provide trustees with a continuous and wide understanding of the member experience (good and bad) and enable any themes that are identified to be addressed, ultimately improving the overall service.

  • Complaints - trustees should know how many complaints have been received and how many of these have been upheld. Do the complaints identify any underlying issues that your provider has, such as a lack of resource, or identify a need to strengthen processes and controls. 

  • Quality of work – trustees should ensure their administrator is taking a systematic approach to defining, measuring and taking corrective action on errors in accordance with PASA guidance.  Internal and external audits can help provide reassurance on both the quality of work and the effectiveness of the controls that are in place.

The key to a successful agreement is receiving the services you are paying for and your administrator ensuring your members get the correct benefit at the right time and it is delivered in the right way.

Your administrator should be able to work with you to ensure your SLAs are appropriate and that other qualitative measures are helping to reassure you that they are delivering to your objectives. Their input should allow you to monitor the service your members are receiving easily and enable you to agree simple steps where any improvements are necessary.  If you would like to discuss your own SLAs or service in more detail, please get in touch.

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