If you see a company offering “99.9% something“ — it is probably offering an SLA. In simple terms, SLA stands for Service Level Agreement, a guarantee that a company gives to you in terms of performance, support, and level of service.
It’s pretty important if you want to build something in the digital space.
As a digital agency, we usually offer several items as part of our SLA to the clients, which is pretty standard across the industry:
⚡ Uptime guarantees – well, dooh, the service needs to run constantly, so we guarantee a 99.9% availability which equates to about 9 hours of downtime per year. You never know when something can go wrong, and 9 hours of downtime seems like a decent compromise.
🤗 Support guarantees – sometimes it happens that people think it’s a bug, but in reality, it’s just misconfiguration on their part. That’s where the Support guarantees kick in – we take the client by the hand and show them what mistakes they made and how they can do it properly. Usually, these are non-critical issues and are handled during working hours.
🔧 Bug fixing guarantees – this is the juiciest one. If it so happens that a bug is found and reported, it needs to be fixed either in 8 hours, in 48 hours, or five days — depending on the severity of the bug. Any bug is a potential business killer, so it’s crucial to handle it promptly. We don’t want any bad PR, right?
Overall the goal of the SLA is to maintain a proper level of service after the initial release. And no, you cannot just build it and forget about it; there are multitudes of reasons why software might break after release:
🔐 Security issues – There are constantly new exploits being discovered – for example, the log4shell vulnerability that was found last year forced every big company to review their packages and update them in a matter of hours.
🐞 Bugs – No software is perfect. Users will find new ways of using the software after the initial release, which will result in unexpected behavior. This needs to be monitored and handled.
📦 Packages become incompatible – Some technical insights for you – sometimes in software, you build something and pin the package version but, somewhere along the line, a package relies on the newest version of some other package which eventually breaks compatibility in your software, which makes it very painful to deploy new versions.
And many other things that always go wrong…
So if you’re planning on building a product – think long-term – you either continue actively developing the product or move it into maintenance and agree on SLA to make sure it functions properly and doesn’t become a liability.
I hope this helps you next time you’re in discussions with your digital partner.
Be sure to ask about the SLA early enough to agree on what’s included BEFORE the launch and not after 🥲