Many IT departments pay lip service to establishing metrics used to measure support services. When they do create the metrics, they often just describe services without providing any methods of measurement. It’s worth taking the time to establish a comprehensive Service Level Agreement (SLA) that states the expected levels of service, how services will be measured, and how IT will communicate actual results. In this post, I will describe the major components of an SLA and how you can get started.
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between the Information Technology department and its users (Employees in other departments within the Company that use its products and services) that specifies, in measurable terms, the services and commitments the CIS department and related service providers will provide as well as the expectations and obligations of the user organization. The SLA incorporates performance metrics from contracts that you have with third-party providers so that you have one cohesive SLA for the company.
In essence, a typical SLA covers the following topics:
- Describes how users will be informed of all planned and unplanned infrastructure, application, or service outages or changes.
- Explains the classification of Help Desk tickets respective of their prioritization.
- Explains the coordination process for service degradation (e.g., system performance) or failure correction (e.g., bug fixes) and state how the User will be kept informed of status.
- Describes the process to make requests to support new business needs.
- Describes what training services and materials will be provided to the user to minimize procedural errors.
- Provides details on backup and recovery services.
- Defines the expected system response time for key transactions.
- Describes the availability of systems and services.
- States security methods to be used to protect all system resources from unauthorized access, monitoring or tampering.
- Explains support model (Tier 1, etc.) and hours of operation.
- Performs periodic surveys to monitor User satisfaction.
- Describes what performance data and analysis reports will be provided to the User organization to show service quality and level of User support provided.
When authoring an SLA, considering including the following components:
- Support Hours
- System Uptime
- Issue Classification
- Service Ticket Response Time
- End User Satisfaction
- End User Responsibilities
In summary, an SLA helps IT articulate the types of services it delivers and how services will be measured and communicated. These agreements further strengthen the partnership between IT and other departments in an organization. What matters most, however, is that you do what you say you are going to do.
Nicholas Colisto is Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc., a large, residential home builder in Red Bank, New Jersey. You can e-mail feedback to email@example.com.