One of the best uses of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in our eyes is its use as a way of setting goals for the vendor. When implemented successfully, an SLA can be a means to manage risk, and create accountability on both the part of the vendor and your own obligation to the technology investment. We have seen many SLAs with built in penalties for vendors for non-performance, and/or missed deadlines. This can certainly work in your favor in two ways- cost savings and motivation for the vendor to get the project done on time and in good form.
The reality is, that the goal set forth by the SLA is a shared goal. If the terms are not met, everyone loses. Therefore, it’s equally as important as the vendor’s participation, for you to be actively involved in the goals of the project in order to be successful.