Service level agreements have to be properly measurable; otherwise, it is impossible to report back to the business on your performance.
Here are four simple steps to assist you in creating workable and measurable SLAs:
1. Define the SLAs Precisely
For SLAs to be truly measurable, you must go beyond vague pronouncements such as “99% uptime” and “4 hour resolution time.”
For example, what exactly is 99% uptime? 99% of ALL time or 99% of working hours? If it is working hours, what exactly are the agreed working hours? Are there some agreed maintenance and upgrade windows that are excluded?
When it comes to resolving problems, does the resolution time begin when the problem starts or when it is reported? Does the resolution “clock” then tick until the moment the problem is resolved, or does it pause at 5pm on Friday and restart the following week?
Until these details are agreed, it is impossible to measure performance in anything other than a subjective way.
2. Involve the Users
It is worth taking the time to ensure that users understand the reasons for SLAs and the technicalities involved in delivering them.
For example, few users realize that most SMEs backup data nightly and that there is often potential to lose one day’s worth of data if a system failure occurs at the worst time. They probably don’t realize that if a drive fails, the server manufacturer may take a day to deliver a replacement.
By explaining these things to users, they can gain an understanding of the challenges that face the average IT department. If the powers-that-be decide that loss of a day’s data or 24 hours of downtime is too much for the business to risk, they can then support the capital spend required to develop the system further - by increasing backup frequency and building in redundancy features.
3. Use Software
Measuring SLA performance properly really needs software; otherwise, you will spend a lot of time calculating uptimes and resolution times.
The two essential pieces of software are a call logging system and an SLA monitoring system. There are plenty of solutions available for both, most of which are relatively inexpensive.
4. Report and Adapt
Consistently report your performance against the agreed SLAs. Hopefully this means you get to prove, on an ongoing basis, just how well the IT team is doing!
If this is not the case, measurable and detailed SLA reports will at least allow you to drill down to where problems exist on the infrastructure, highlighting where issues need to be resolved or where the system needs further spend or development.
You only need to work through the process of creating fully measurable SLAs once. Subsequently, defining them for other clients should be far more straightforward, as you will already have a process to work to, as well as tried and tested software you can use to measure them.
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