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Service Contracts Making Life Better. Louis Sellers Contracts Administration Manager General Counsel Division. Service Contracts Making Life Better. I am not an attorney. I do not give legal advice.

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Service Contracts Making Life Better


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    1. Service ContractsMaking Life Better Louis Sellers Contracts Administration Manager General Counsel Division

    2. Service ContractsMaking Life Better • I am not an attorney. • I do not give legal advice. • I am offering my personal thoughts and opinions, not those of the Office of the Attorney General. • Check with your agency’s attorneys regarding any contractual or legal issues.

    3. Service ContractsMaking Life Better • Service Level Agreements (SLA) and milestones in service contracts • Communications in service contracts • Modifying a contract by customs and practice • Unauthorized performance evaluations

    4. Find SLAs That Make Life Better! • Use SLAs that are related to your requirements • Use measurable outcomes • Use SLAs that are reasonable • Use SLAs that are easily understood

    5. What Are Some Factors That Might Be Usable SLAs? • Response time to communications • Response time for an incident • Resolution time for an incident • Billing dispute resolution time

    6. What Are Some Factors That Are More Difficult SLAs? • Courteous communications • Appropriate dress • Professional demeanor • Subject matter expertise • Quality of decisions

    7. Harder to Measure Satisfaction Factors • Helpdesk satisfaction (use surveys and call-back counts) • Report quality (use metrics for content, citations, grammar, formatting) • Personal presentation of staff (define appropriate dress and appropriate language) • Personal interaction with staff (define “easy to work with”, “effective communicators”, etc.)

    8. Milestones That Make Life Better • Place milestones at important points where a change in the process is noticeable: • When contractor arrives • When a report is delivered • When a report is accepted • When a particular service is made available • When an old system is turned off • When a new process is accepted • When a contractor identifies and defines a requirement

    9. Milestones That Make Life Better • At interim points during the creation of a report: • When information gathering is complete • When surveys are distributed • When a draft review meeting takes place • When consensus is reached • At the completion of some reasonable hours of work: • A specific number of hours of design effort • A specific number hours of customer training

    10. Communications in Service Contracts A successful communication is one that elicits the desired response.

    11. Communications in Service Contracts It is the responsibility of the sender of the message to ensure: • that it is received, • that it is understood, • and that will elicit the desired response.

    12. Communications in Service Contracts • Use a variety of communication channels • Face to face • Optimizes many complex discussions • Paper document • Has gravity and is durable • Email • Quick and convenient but may not appear serious • Telephone • Solves complex back and forth issues but may require documentation to memorialize the content • Smoke signals • Vague and now prohibited in most counties

    13. Communications in Service Contracts • Use a variety of tools • Tables • Quick identification of variance and outliers • Charts • Intuitive understanding of trends and outliers • Flow charts • Clearly show linear and iterative process • Diagrams • Show relationships and complexities

    14. Communications in Service Contracts • Tables

    15. Communications in Service Contracts

    16. Communications in Service Contracts Work in Progress Quality Rework Inventory

    17. Communications in Service Contracts • Diagrams show relationships

    18. Modifying a Contract by Customs and Practice • What does this mean? • Performing at a different level than is specified by the contract over time until everyone understands that this is the expected performance level.

    19. Modifying a Contract by Customs and Practice • How does this happen? • Not documenting low performance • Not discovering low performance • Not recognizing low performance • Not knowing what constitutes low performance

    20. Modifying a Contract by Customs and Practice • What else can happen? • A vendor may want to perform above the level that is required. • A vendor may accidentally overperform. • A vendor may not understand the requirements.

    21. Modifying a Contract by Customs and Practice • What is one to do? • Know what performance level is required. • Discover performance levels. • Learn to recognize performance levels. • Document low and high performance levels.

    22. Modifying a Contract by Customs and Practice • It is important to ensure that vendors perform at required levels, because the competitive procurement process relies on enforcement of contractual performance levels.

    23. Unauthorized Performance Evaluations • Who provides unauthorized performance evaluations? • Anyone with vendor contact might say: • “Gee, you did a great job!” • “This is NOT how it is done.” • “My fifth grader could have done this.” • “This is a lot better than what we expected.” • “We aren’t paying for this!”

    24. Unauthorized Performance Evaluations • Why does this happen? • Dedicated, hard-working people often do not know the details of the contract. • People often have an idea of what is right and wrong that is not necessarily aligned with what is in the contract. • People have experience with contracts that have other terms. • A particular level of performance may be good for one user and not for another. • It may not be a very good deal.

    25. Unauthorized Performance Evaluations • Why is this a problem? • It may mislead a vendor into poor performance. • It may shift a vendor’s focus from what the contract intended. • It may be detrimental to the agency’s effort to elicit performance. • It may be used as evidence in court.

    26. Unauthorized Performance Evaluations • What is one to do? • Communicate to the vendor how performance evaluations are – and are not – provided and why this is important. • Communicate to those with vendor contact how performance evaluations are – and are not – provided and why this is important.

    27. Service ContractsMaking Life Better • SLAs and milestones in service contracts • Communications in service contracts • Modifying a contract by customs and practice • Unauthorized performance evaluations

    28. Contact Information Louis Sellers Contracts Administration Manager General Counsel Division (512) 936-1676 louis.sellers@oag.state.tx.us