The fundamental equation of happiness proposed by Baucells and Sarin in their book ‘Engineering Happiness’ goes:

HAPPINESS equals REALITY minus EXPECTATIONS

If you are a business that wants to make its clients happy, what does this mean to you? If the service you provide — the reality — merely meets expectations, you create zero happiness! You have to surpass expectations even to begin making people happy. Your marketing team, by loudly trumpeting your strengths, may get you several loyal customers. But this has an effect that doesn’t look so pretty given the above equation: high expectations‘Engineering happiness’ may thus seem a daunting task, but fret not; we have it all sorted out! Allow us to present Service Level Agreements and their automation.

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SLAs (Service Level Agreements) had their beginnings with networking companies. They began putting up details in contracts with subscribers of their services such that they guarantee so much up-time and defects would be fixed within such periods. Failure to meet these terms could lead to financial penalties. Soon, such contracts began appearing in other sectors such as web services, cloud computing and outsourcing projects. A typical modern usecase is software services companies using SLAs to guarantee fast issue resolution to their clients.

If you are one such business, SLAs can help you make it clear what level of service can be expected from you. And the SLA automation feature in our BugTracker module can help you surpass this. For example, you can set up an SLA that any bug whose severity is marked ‘Show stopper’ would get closed within six hours. If this is not done, your client would get notified of the same. This clarifies to the client, what level of service she can expect from you. Now there is lots you can do to make sure this contract is not breached. If two hours pass without the bug being resolved, you could set up an escalation to be automatically triggered to assign the bug to another developer who has specialized experience in the domain. You could set up the next level of escalation to trigger in four hours to alert a manager who can arrange for even more resources. With such efficient organization working automatically, you can make sure your services always stay ahead of expectations.

SLA automation was launched as one of the Fabulous Features of Zoho Projects 5. We have just launched an update where you can pick what stops the escalation from triggering. Initially this could happen only when the bugs were closed . Now the escalations can also be set to be prevented upon posting a resolution to the issue. You can learn how to set up and work with the Zoho BugTracker SLAs here.

The scope of SLAs is not just limited to software projects. One of our customers, Frontier Communications, uses it to manage contractors and data loads from their 3rd parties. Other Customers have extended the use of BugTracker to a ticketing system to provide customer support; another scenario where SLAs flourish. A marketing team uses them to ensure the errors in their content are fixed rapidly. We see that such clever customers are taking BugTracker beyond its intended scope as an issue tracking system to a business process management tool and workflow software. We are excited about this trend and if you have come up with a smart BugTracker hack yourself, do let us know.

We hope the SLA automation feature helps your services greatly exceed expectations and win happy clients. Please try it out and let us know your feedback.