Service Level Agreement Defined:
A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between a Logistics service provider and a customer that specifies, in measurable terms, what services the Logistics provider will furnish. Many customers manage their Logistics providers with an SLA.
The service level agreement should be detailed with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are different for each customer-Service provider agreement. These agreements can take three (3) to six (6) months to negotiate, depending on their complexity.
In my opinion, a service level agreement should be used in any customer-3PL engagement. An SLA should also be used for an LTL/TL (Less than Truckload/Truckload) agreement. Sometimes the LTL/TL contract uses a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) which details the LTL/TL contract. It states that certain KPIs in this QBR are to be negotiated/reviewed monthly.
Sometimes, the Logistics provider has its own SLA/KPI that they want to use with any customer, but negotiation is still in order. Some Logistics providers use time/percentages to implement the SLA/KPI based on the customer’s volume.
An SLA/KPI is typically used when there is a Logistics provider contract to co-sign.
Even if you are not a contract account, ask the provider what KPIs they give to new, non-contract open/public accounts.
In theory, the Service Level Agreement should be written by the customer. If a 3PL, transportation company, or supplier has one, it must be negotiated before it is finalized.
Have you ever used an SLA? What has your experience been?