Why will the DM principle ensure the success of a service level agreement?


These are the decisions with which my young daughter struggles every day.  Every day she agonises over which pair of socks she should wear.  For her socks are as a confusing but important issue as a service level agreement can be for print buyers.

Writing a service level agreement is something that many print buyers agonise over.  The print buyer often puts pressure on themselves to create the perfect service level agreement.  They need a service level agreement that should cover every aspect of service from their printer.

The printer should be equally capable of writing a service level agreement

Using socks as an analogy for choosing who should write a service level agreement for the print and printing industries

Choosing the right pair of socks can be as difficult as deciding who drafts a service level agreement

A service level agreement is indeed sometimes better started by the printer.  The printer will understand the process flows that are involved in complicated work.  Work that may involve the scheduling of multiple streams of information.  Or co-ordinating input from a number of suppliers.  Or defining how data should be laid out.  Work for which the printer may have very specific requirements.

These requirements may mean that the printer is best placed to start defining the workflow in the service level agreement.  However, the workflow and other issues may all be relatively simple.  Simple enough for either printer of client to be the author of the service level agreement.  For this type of service level agreement, the DM principle can apply.

So what is the DM principle?

The DM principle is easy.  DM stands for Doesn’t Matter.  And it doesn’t matter who produces the first draft of a service level agreement.  What matters is that a first draft is produced.  And when the first draft is produced, it is then important that everyone involved in the agreement is given an opportunity to view and comment on the document.

The comments from this stage will be vital in making sure that a service level agreement works.  A service level agreement works best when the document is produced with input from everyone involved in the project.  The project will then run smoothly because all those making it happen will have helped outline the process.  The process is the key to making a realistic service level agreement for both client and printer.

Is the printer’s place to tell the client what to do?

Absolutely!  Clients should be prepared to accept advice and direction from their suppliers.  Their suppliers have often had many years of experience of knowing how to make projects happen.

A project happens when both sides collaborate

There had been no collaboration on one project I was recently asked to help with by a client.  The client had used a standard service level agreement.  The service level had, without consultation, been inflicted on the printer.  And the printer tried to make the project work.  But the project didn’t work:  it failed.

It failed because the service level agreement bore no resemblance to what actually needed to happen.  The printer tried to make the project happen, but they also tried to keep to the requirements of the service level agreement.  And the requirements were unrealistic.

To create a realistic service level agreement, follow these three steps

Step 1 – Make sure a first draft of the service level agreement is written.  It doesn’t matter who writes it.  Apply the DM principle

Step 2 – Get everyone involved in the project to comment on the service level agreement

Step 3 – Make sure the service level agreement is produced collaboratively.

It is the collaboration the makes a service level agreement work – it doesn’t matter who writes it

Just like it doesn’t matter what colour socks my daughter wears.

P.S. If you have found this article useful you may also be interested in Print & Procurement’s training in supplier managementClick here to find out more

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