Service level agreements are a hugely important part of an IT service. While in a perfect world a handshake would be all that you’d need in order for both parties to hold up their end of an agreement, there are more than a few reasons why producing a legally binding document can benefit those on both sides of the service equation.

Successful service level agreements are founded on a clear comprehension of the outcomes the business wants from IT service management. Identifying these relies on service managers discussing outcomes with customers and tailoring the associated services to fit around them. But no SLA can be set up without the tacit understanding, commitment and agreement of the business.

Some of the areas where service levels need to be stipulated might involve looking at capacity and demand management, when the critical/peak and off-peak times are in the business cycle and creating a Service Management Process (SMP) for what’s needed in those situations. The most effective SMP – and best practice framework that supports it – is not just a series of processes and policies: it feeds into the culture and driving factors of a business or organisation. It seeks to appreciate, for example, the “pinch points” of the enterprise and why it’s a problem if, say, the email service goes down.

Our clients who are currently on SLAs find the following benefits are well worth the commitment:

Over and above these specific benefits, there are also wealth of general benefits that come with using SLAs:

There’s no room for confusion when utilising an SLA, as both parties will be intent on ensuring that the agreement meets their needs. It ensures that the recipient of the service will get what they are after, and will ensure that the expectations on the service provider are reasonable and able to be met. It’s the final word – if a dispute comes up after the relationship has begun, the SLA should be able to settle it.

An SLA ensures that any service continues to be provided as it was intended by those who originally negotiated the agreement. No matter what personnel or systematic changes occur, the SLA can act as the bible for how things must be done. If the needs of both the service provider and recipient change over time the SLA should be altered accordingly.

By offering exact figures and timeframes regarding the expected performance of the provider, an SLA allows both the provider and recipient to track how well the service is being carried out. If certain issues need to be resolved within 24 hours, for example, then the recipient of the service has every right to complain if it is not.

Few things in life are certain. In fact, many will limit that particular list to just two – death and taxes. But an SLA offers a level of certainty that results in peace of mind for all involved. What needs to be done is written down in black and white, so both parties can find comfort in the fact that each knows the expectations of the other.

Unfortunately, Service Level Agreements can be as complex as they are important. Being a legally binding document, it’s vital that a company gets professional assistance in drawing one up, save them using a document that doesn’t hold both parties to account as it should. KLF Computing are here to help.

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