Building Service Level Agreement Contracts A Best Practices Approach Overview
This paper presents a brief overview of what goes into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) contract. It also presents an example of one.
This publication contains the following topics: Topic Why Have Service Level Agreements? Contract Areas to Consider Contract Components Example Of A Service Level Agreement Contract See Page 2 3 6 8
Why Have Service Level Agreements?
SLAs are critical towards formalizing expectations around services with end users and customers. Without these, customer expectations will assume that everything will be delivered and available at a 100% level all the time. Very little can be done about poor service when there is no definition what good service is. Objectives should be set that describe items such as response times, availability, turnaround and accuracy. Customers and IT should commit to a mutually acceptable means of verifying compliance with service objectives and agree on actions that must take place when exceptions occur.
Key goals of undertaking formalized service arrangements are as follows: • Allow for IT to understand customer service requirements. • Control customer expectations for levels of service to be delivered. • Allow for clear understanding of priorities when handling service problems.
Contract Areas to Consider
The following section presents a number of key areas to consider when building SLA Contract documents.
Level of Formalization
Service levels may range from a formalized contract that is signed off by representative customer departments to informal "known" levels internal to IT functions. IT should be aware which level of formalization is appropriate.
Ability to Meet Service Targets
IT should ensure that documented levels of service can indeed be met. Targets should allow for a latitude contingency to cover occasional problems or slowdowns to occur without jeopardizing targets. Within ITIL, Availability Management should review planned targets and provide guidance as to what levels may be appropriate given current IT capabilities. Requirements for new capabilities should be highlighted to management to determine whether to invest in them or not.
Control of Customer Expectations
Targets should be communicated to customers in terms that make them clearly understood from their perspective. This promotes a good level of understanding and cooperation when service problems do occur.
Handling SLA Contract Changes
Processes should be in place to handle changes in service requirements. Customers may wish to negotiate better service levels, add new functions that require new levels of service or periodically renew current levels. These should be negotiated through a Service Level Manager and processed via Change Management.
Number of SLA Contracts
Less is better, more greatly increases management overhead to report and manage. It may be determined to have a single contract for all departments versus multiple service contracts for different departments. Another structure may be to have a base agreement that covers everyone as a default with a limited set of overriding contracts for unique needs. Continued on next page
Contract Areas to Consider, Continued
Types of Service Targets to Be Included
The types of service targets to be provided should be identified in the service level contract. Examples of types of service targets include items such as: • Response Times • Availability Windows • Equipment Service And Repair Times • Technical Support Response and Level • Report Or Other Media Delivery • Security Access • Data Retention and Backup Requirements
Determining Customer Services
It will be necessary to identify what critical customer workloads are. From this a specific service level can be derived. Workloads can be defined as one or more customer functions that...
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