SLA’s that work

More and more businesses are beginning to use ITIL® ® Service Management
tools to manage SLAs these days. SLA helps to show the value of IT to
the business and provides meaningful information so companies can meet
their key targets. It clearly defines the level of services expected
between two parties. It ensures these targets are met within expected
standards and budgeted costs.

Today’s SLA has come a long way. In the past SLA was managed manually,
using spreadsheets or unsophisticated computer tools. A system that was
too reliant on key personnel and inefficient in the way it was managed.

 SLA has become increasingly popular, with more and more
businesses realizing its benefits.  “Service Level Management
provides a way to optimize IT service quality and align it to your
business services. It details which departments in your business use
that service. It enables you to agree and document levels of service
and monitor and review actual service levels achieved as compared to
SLA targets. It helps you to control costs, ensuring budgets are met.
It provides a way to review IT service levels enabling you to take
steps to eliminate unacceptable levels of service.

 

Emereo is a leading innovator of ITIL® ® based tools and services. Its
Service Level Management module creates and maintains important
information about the IT services and how they are used by a business.
It captures SLAs in a catalog, recording and maintaining capture
availability required for service resolution time for service. Its
Service Level Management application is fully integrated to capture IT
service for each record in different modules.

 

Service Level Agreements are vital because they help businesses to
easily analyze underlying factors and make corrections. They allow
businesses to optimize resources cost effectively. They give you the
competitive edge in highly competitive business environment, by
allowing you to deliver business services consistently, at minimum cost.
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Many organisations are working with Service Level Agreements to have a
common understanding of the services the IT department delivers to the
internal business clients. But as the results of the poll show once
again, most of the time these Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) are not
achieving what you expect from them.

Why is this? Why do 34.1 % of the people say that their Service Level
Agreements don’t work at all? And only 20.5% that they work very much?

The secret of a successful SLA is that Service Level Agreements are
part of the process of Service Level Management. The other activities
in this process are:

  • Building a Service Catalogue
  • Mapping the service catalogue to the service requirements of your customer
  • Negotiating and signing the service level agreement
  • Reporting upon achieved service levels
  • Service Level improvement program

Service Level Agreements are one of the physical outcomes. By using a
step-by-step approach that includes all the above-mentioned activities
you ascertain yourself of a structure and the successful use of the
SLA’s. Because a SLA is a two-way communication document with
responsibilities and rights on both sides, these activities require
involvement from your clients.

How does it work?

  1. The IT department puts together a Service Catalogue with a price
    list. The Service Catalogue should be self-explaining and written in
    plain English. The internal client picks those services that are
    necessary to run their business processes (i.e. internet access, word
    processing tool for reporting). The price list makes it easier to
    understand the cost involved in delivering the services to the client.
    And it makes the client aware of the IT cost, even in an organisation
    that works on a fixed budget.
  2. The clients put together a list of Service Requirements. What
    sort of service do they need to run their business smoothly? How much
    time can IT use to deliver this service, or change something in the
    service delivery.
  3. When negotiating a Service Level Agreement the discussion is
    around the Service Level Requirements build by the customer. There will
    be a mutual understanding of the content of the SLA and both parties
    know exactly what to expect from each other. The clients also knows
    where the boundaries are in service delivery and this will take away a
    lot of the frustration later on.
  4. During the SLA negotiation, you also decide upon the reporting structure.
          1. What sort of reports does the client need? What information is necessary?
          2. How often does the client need a report?
          3. Does IT also report when things are going according to the SLA?
  5.  The first SLA is agreed for 6 to 12 months and during that
    period all necessary changes need to be documented. This is the input
    for a Service Level Improvement Program (SIP). During the last 2 months
    of the SLA period a gap analysis has to be conducted to allocate the
    areas for improvement.

Without all of the activities, you will never achieve effective service
level agreement. And without a strong client involvement during these
steps, chances are that the expectations exceed the physical delivery
with all the frustration and un-necessary energy draining meetings
attached to it.

For more information about implementing effective Service Level
Agreements and the process of Service level Management, please contact
The Art of Service by phone (1300 13 44 99) or email (service@theartofservice.com)
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