Every IT manager aspires to improve performance, accelerate incident response times, reduce system downtime, and simultaneously cut service costs in his or her IT support operations. Now, if you are in the pursuit of similar goals, look no further than an IT SLA.
An IT SLA—or IT service-level agreement—is a contract between IT support and an end user within the same organization. Typically, IT SLAs establish a clear understanding of service parameters by defining the services extended, the quality standards that must be adhered to, and the timelines within which the services must be delivered. Operational-level agreements (OLAs) and underpinning contracts (UCs) are agreements that IT support makes with internal departments and with vendors or partners, respectively. The OLAs and UCs act as constituents of the final SLA that the IT support team draws up with end users.
IT service-level agreements play a crucial role in everyday tasks of IT support. And they help you allocate the optimum number of resources to manage the service offerings. It’s no surprise, then, that the absence of IT SLAs may lead to:
Lack of clarity between departments about their roles.
Increase in the time taken to communicate, log, and resolve issues.
Lack of service efficiency.
Increased system downtime.
Dissatisfied end users and customers.
At InterGlobe Aviation (Indigo), smart SLA management ensures a 30% annual improvement in IT performance and cuts costs by 30%, despite a 60% increase in load.
If you’d like to reap similar IT advantages, follow these five steps to draw up a great SLA.
Step 1: Define your SLA scope
This defines the exact manner in which services are delivered within the agreed upon time frame. It also outlines the workflow and assigns roles and responsibilities to IT support and all the other departments or vendors involved.
Step 2: Set response and resolution times
Based on a ticket’s priority, you’ll need to define the response and resolution time. Priority levels can be categorized into critical, high, medium, and low based on a ticket’s level of business impact.
Step 3: Create ownership and escalation points
The agent or technician who makes the initial contact with the end user assumes ownership of the ticket until its resolution. A ticket that remains unresolved past its resolution time needs to be escalated. Therefore, you must clearly map each escalation level with a predefined resolution time and assign responsibility to the right person.
Step 4: Monitor performance and measure compliance
Use appropriate tools to monitor performance and measure SLA compliance by using key performance indicators. Also, generate SLA non-compliance reports periodically to identify gaps. Then you’ll be able to plug these gaps either through training programs or by redefining the SLA.
Step 5: Establish change control in the IT SLA
Keep your SLAs open to changes to progress with evolving business and customer needs. Both your IT and end user should agree upon a standardized process to authorize changes to be made and document them in the SLA.
IT service-level agreements create a unified vision for your business by getting your IT to work in cohesion with other departments and vendors and ensure the best service delivery to end users. So, set your SLAs on track and be on your way to achieving IT efficiency.
(This article was originally published in Business Spectator.)