As we work in partnership with several accountancy practices in the Accountancy 50+50, we genuinely understand the significance of dependable IT support for your accountancy practice. However, one aspect that often gets too much focus in the pursuit of impeccable service is Service Level Agreements (SLAs). While SLAs hold their place in every service ecosystem, relying on them too heavily can sometimes hinder the overall quality of service, business operations, and client experience. Let’s explore why IT support SLAs aren’t the be-all and end-all for accountancy practices like yours.
Beyond meeting IT SLAs – the culture trap
SLAs often come with precise response and resolution timeframes, creating a clear structure for IT service delivery, which is great for your accountancy practice to understand what to expect. However, the danger of working with a provider that prioritises SLAs means they’ll have fostered a culture where their teams work to SLAs rather than thinking about going above and beyond for your accountancy practice.
For example, imagine the agreed SLA is a response time of under 3 hours for 95% of the time. As long as the IT provider is reaching the 95%, they don’t need to do anything more. But what about that 5%? Surely your IT provider should be aiming for 100% and not 95%? Here at Orca, we always aim for 100% on all our targets and ensure that going the extra mile for our clients is embedded within our teams.
IT SLA misses – more than just a refund
The common misconception is that if an SLA isn’t met, you’ll receive a refund for the cost. While that’s true, the consequences of an SLA breach can extend far beyond financial compensation. Downtime resulting from an unresolved issue can disrupt your accountancy practice operations and tarnish your client relationships pretty quickly.
Imagine if your accounting practice faces an unexpected accounting software outage during tax season, and your IT provider doesn’t meet your SLA. You’ll receive a refund for the missed SLA, but the financial losses and client frustration due to missed deadlines can have a lasting negative impact. Would you rather have the monetary compensation or be prioritised and have the problem fixed as soon as possible during such a crucial period? We’re hoping the latter is your priority, just like ours, to be flexible in your time of need rather than missing an SLA and just issuing a refund. We’re here to support your business.
IT SLAs don’t focus on service quality
SLAs often revolve around measurable metrics like response time and resolution time. However, these metrics fail to capture the essence of a quality IT service. Focusing solely on meeting numerical benchmarks might divert attention from the overall user experience, leaving your accountancy practice with subpar support.
For example, the IT team responds promptly to a payroll software query, but the solution lacks clarity, requiring multiple follow-ups for clarification. While they may have adhered to a response time SLA, they provided inefficient communication, frustrated your employees, and likely impacted the services you deliver to your clients. In this situation, would you have preferred they spent a little more time crafting a clear and concise response than an unclear one that meets the deadline? Surely, spending a little more time on the initial response would be preferable, which may miss an SLA, rather than sinking more IT support time on the back and forth on communication to gain clarity. Here at Orca, our teams work with a fix first, ask questions later methodology, ensuring the best service is delivered to our clients.
IT SLAs cause inflexibility during critical times
When you’re navigating the peaks and valleys of accounting cycles, you need a flexible IT support system that adapts to your needs. Strict SLA adherence might limit your IT provider’s ability to extend additional support during critical periods or unexpected IT disruptions.
Imagine if you experience a sudden influx of financial data during tax season, and your accountancy practice encounters a server overload. Unfortunately, the IT support team, bound by SLA constraints, can’t provide the immediate assistance you urgently require. Surely, you’d prefer to work with an IT provider that can be flexible in your time of need? That’s how we work with our clients at Orca, here for them in their time of need.
Partnership over IT SLA numbers
While numbers are undoubtedly important, building a long-lasting and trustworthy partnership should be the ultimate goal. A reliable IT provider like us, understands your unique accountancy challenges and works collaboratively to ensure smooth operations rather than just meeting contractual obligations, aka going above and beyond for you.
Envisage your accountancy practice needs to accelerate an acquisition or merger at speed. As a result, your practice needs to integrate diverse accounting systems seamlessly and in a short time frame. You’ll need an IT partner who values the partnership over SLAs and would proactively work to ensure a smooth transition. A provider that works to SLAs is likely to be constrained by predefined timeframes, leading to your accountancy practice being unable to meet the timescales of the acquisition or merger.
So what’s next when it comes to IT SLAs?
In conclusion, while IT Support SLAs have their merits, they shouldn’t become the sole compass guiding your accountancy practice’s IT strategy. The focus on meeting SLAs can inadvertently lead to a culture of complacency, overlooking the nuances of service quality and flexibility. Embracing a partnership-based approach that prioritises your practice’s unique needs can unlock a more holistic and reliable IT support experience.
Here at Orca, we tailor our IT solutions to meet your business needs rather than being confined by SLAs. By understanding your specific requirements, we ensure that your IT infrastructure meets industry standards and propels your accountancy practice towards greater efficiency and client satisfaction. Don’t hesitate to contact us on 0345 504 8989 or book a meeting with us to discover the true potential of a collaborative IT partnership.