SLAs are Dead

I have just returned from Sage North America’s Insights conference in Denver. The conference is, at the same time, completely exhausting and completely invigorating. I learn so much from Sage partners because they continue to test my thinking.

Without question, the best test of my thinking came during my pre-conference session on Sunday. One of the attendees (I cannot remember who, so if it is you, please claim the credit) shook me to the core. She said, “So if you believe we are professional knowledge firms, why should we be selling service level agreements?” I was dumbstruck.

My only response was, “You should not.” I have to admit, I have been wrong.

In one of the all-time great movies The Ten Commandments, Cedric Hardwicke as the Pharaoh Sethi says, “Let the name of Moses be stricken from every book and tablet. Stricken from every pylon and obelisk of Egypt. Let the name of Moses be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of man, for all time.”

The same must be done for service level agreements. So, let the phrase “service level agreement” be stricken from every Ron Baker book and article. Stricken from every blog post and comment on the VeraSage Website. Let the phrase of “service level agreement” be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of professionals, for all time.


In keeping with this pronouncement, above is my slide from my session on creating, service access level agreements at the conference. Access Level Agreement is, for now, a placeholder. Other ideas I mulled over where: customer level agreements (too direct), support level agreements (too limiting), and access contract (too legal).

It is time once again to tap into the collective intellectual capacity of the community. Please post your ideas and arguments for or against the correct phrase.


  1. Ed – I love it when something gets turned upside down. My thought not too outside the box is Loyalty Agreements, dependability agreements, or purpose agreements. Words that also come to mind are intention and objectives (as in meeting them). Great thoughts.

  2. We call them “Knowledge Access Confirmations.” Have been doing so for about 2 years. 10 years ago they were
    “Fixed Price Agreements.” How things change…

    We use “Confirmations” because that better represents a mutual affirmation(s) between provider/customer than does “Agreement.”

    Aren’t semantics fun? Term not trademarked as I like to share!

  3. Matthew Tol says:

    Commitment Confirmation?

    Service Pledge?

  4. Richard, I like “Confirmations”.

    Matthew, hmmm, “Pledge”!

    How about Access Pledge?

  5. Thank you. Our use of “confirmations” is based on the fact that said agreements are
    “two way streets” with customer buy-in required. However, I like the term “pledge” but I have always viewed this word as more one-directional.

  6. Richard, that makes sense. I am still processing this. I LOVE semantics! My Dad was a Latin teacher.

  7. Semantics are very important when it comes to one’s message and value proposition and personal branding. Much like the “client” vs. “customer” issue.

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