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The CPO's Corner
How do I better develop, track, and execute on SLA’s?
When this question came forward, I immediately had an opinion – didn’t really have to think about the answer. But to be thorough I went to my network of travel service professionals and asked them to opine on this topic. We all had the same observations.
Most companies don’t have SLA’s in place for travel. Of those that do, most pay no attention until there’s a problem. Then there’s a mad dash to figure out what they are and if they can be used as leverage.
Given that few companies appear to use them in travel, do you really need SLA’s at all?
You certainly do, if you want your program to run well and improve over time. Here’s why:
“What gets measured gets managed” is a quote widely attributed to Peter Drucker, the management consultant, educator, and author. And given its use across companies and academia, its true. If we ignore metrics, they don’t improve and therefore our program never gets any better.
The key is to choose the right ones, to measure and report periodically, and to identify and implement actions that will make them better.
When choosing metrics, don’t just take what your service providers suggest. Think about your business and define what success means for the travelers you cover. For example: one provider had a standard SLA on the speed with which they would answer a call. Nice, but they offered nothing on resolving the problem itself: frequency with which the problem was resolved on the initial call, frequency with which it was resolved that day, etc. Speed of problem resolution is likely much more important to your internal clients than the number of times the phone rings before someone picks up.
The second thing you need to do is ensure that the SLA’s are permanent agenda items on your reviews with your internal clients and external support. Progress won’t be made unless you look at SLA’s regularly, understand how your results compare against those of peer companies, understand trends, make course corrections where needed, and determine ways to improve performance.
Sharing them within your firm is a subtle way of showing the value your team is bringing. And the more measurable, fact-based ways you can show progress, the easier it will be for you to showcase your accomplishments when preparing for your own performance review.
The Travel Manager/ Travel Department have to be the disciplined leaders here. Your suppliers will never go out of their way to propose SLA’s or measure them. But its in your best interest to make sure they’re in place and actionable. A way to check: if the travel team can’t recall what they are, your company is missing an opportunity for continuous improvement.
Joanna Martinez is a global procurement / supply chain leader and the founder of Supply Chain Advisors LLC. She is a frequent lecturer and blogger on procurement topics and also provides coaching, strategy development, training, and cost reduction opportunity assessment. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to technology startups.
As either regional or global CPO, Joanna has led transformation initiatives for companies in many different sectors: among them Johnson & Johnson (consumer products), Diageo (beverage), AllianceBernstein LP (financial services) and Cushman & Wakefield (real estate services, property management). She has also held client-facing roles, effectively giving her the opportunity to “sit on both sides of the table”.