Did you ever wonder what the difference is between a Warranty and an SLA?

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It's easy to get confused between a SLA and a warranty. A warranty is a UCC special limited right that is activated immediately after you accept a product, unless it is expressly disclaimed. The idea behind this special warranty right is to protect customers with an assurance that the product they purchased works as promised, and works in their environment. Whereas an SLA (service level agreement) does not usually commit to actually getting the product to work, it's more about a level of response and a level of effort based upon the seriousness of the service issue claimed (minor, medium or critical). An SLA usually includes an escalation path, troubleshooting methodology, and sometimes it provides a service credit remedy. If the new product purchased does not work once you install it, an SLA will not cure that problem.

Think of the Lemon Law for new car sales when you think about the warranty. If a product does not work; you have a chance (generally several chances) to get it resolved within a defined period of time. If the problem is still not resolved, you have an opportunity to get your money back. That is a heck of a lot different from saying that if the product doesn't work I will respond in 2 hours and if it's not working within x hours you will get a 5% credit on your next monthly maintenance invoice, that is an SLA. Since most software licenses are moving to a SaaS model, a careful review of the contract language is required to avoid having just an SLA rather than a warranty followed by an SLA (which is my recommended approach).

I encourage you to review your last software license to ensure it includes both a warranty and an SLA. This will assure you: 1.) the product works when you first install it; and 2.) it also includes an ongoing SLA methodology for curing potential defects that may be found months, or even years later. When a license proactively includes both a warranty and an SLA, it sends a positive message about the quality of the product, and instills a level of consumer confidence in the developer. This approach increases sales opportunities and establishes loyal customers who drive repeat business.

 


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