IT Service Level Agreements: What is Expected from IT?

Why Are IT Service Level Agreements Important?

Instead of beginning with the impact of implementing Service Level Management, it might be easier to imagine the outcome of not having a technology solution documenting, tracking, and reporting IT Service Level Agreements (SLA) information accurately, consistently, and efficiently. The SLA is the commitment between a service provider and a customer, defining the quality, availability, and responsibilities of the contract. Without the knowledge and resources to plan and design SLAs effectively, organizations are unable to understand their contracted responsibilities, measure service performance levels correctly, identify improvement opportunities based upon performance metrics, and demonstrate service levels are performing as intended.

LISTEN to the companion Podcast about IT Service Level Agreements.

Once a contract is signed, it becomes a promise.

Think about what it takes to keep a promise.

From a similar perspective, what should an organization do to keep their contracts, which are ultimately promises made at the business level?

In the case of IT, are there standardized SLA processes in place? Are proactive, organization-wide technology solutions managing availability and performance present within the organization? What strategies have been established to ensure service level targets are being met and maintained?

Whether these are internal or external facing, clearly defining what is being covered explains expectations and responsibilities. This can include hours of service, response and resolution times, exclusions and exceptions, and compensation or penalty for a breached service level. If management has not clearly defined the services, service targets, performance metrics,  key performance indicators, and turnaround times, the customer and its end-users can potentially suffer false expectations.

Who Defines a Service Level Agreement?

When I think of the word “agreement,” it implies the provider has negotiated the performance standards, response times, and costs associated with delivering incorrect service levels, yet in my experience, often, I find these discussions have not been done in a thorough-enough manner, which ultimately impacts the customer and service provider. When defining the agreement, it needs to be a bidirectional sit-down engagement to lay out precise terms and time frames. In addition, the organization and the customer must agree on key metrics measuring performance, including the good and bad. When establishing mutually agreed upon, realistic SLAs, IT has a tendency to work harder to achieve the desired results. Identifying the metrics to measure quality clarifies to customers that the performance levels and expectations are being met successfully by all parties involved.

Who Is in Charge of Service Level Agreements?

Organizational leadership impacted by the IT services should be in charge of deciding Service Level Agreements. Likewise, it is essential that stakeholders are brought into the conversation because a clearly defined different types of SLAs helps provide valuable information to the organization regarding what additional resources, technology upgrades, staff augmentations, or new hires are required to meet said service levels. In this way, organizations can fully assess the changes necessary to fulfill technology requirements and satisfy end-user expectations. In some organizations with centralized IT, departments within the organization are responsible for the usage of infrastructure, data transfer, software licenses, and other IT resources. The cost of service consumption can be passed on as chargebacks to the departments serviced by IT.

Documenting and publishing negotiated service level targets clearly communicates what is expected from IT and IT services. To meet these demands with transparency and consistency, organizations need a technology solution to track service levels accurately, deliver a preventative response when service levels perform incorrectly, and report metrics against accurate ticket records. If there is no technology solution in place executing these responsibilities, it is a moot point because there is no possible manner to accurately measure, report, or demonstrate SLAs are being delivered successfully.

Flycast Partners provides flexible IT technologies enabling organizations to deliver the right level of service and meet or exceed customer needs. With our assistance, organizations can plan, track, and manage performance effectively, ensuring service levels perform within their defined targets.

Contact Flycast Partners to learn more about how our experienced IT engineers can help rapidly deploy technology solutions, implement standardized processes, and digitally transform your service management capabilities to build robust Service Level Agreements to increase the real and perceived value to any customer, not dependent upon being internal or external.

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