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More Tips for Starting SLAs in ITSM

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Yesterday, we talked how to get started with SLAs and select services to include in your first SLM pass. Now it’s time to create your SLAs. Here are two tips to remember when building your SLA.

Set Realistic Time Limits
One of the challenges when creating SLAs is setting realistic time limits. We’re often tempted to please our customers by providing quick response times. However, it’s better to give yourself some cushion to mitigate the risk of breaching an SLA. If you’re short staffed because someone called in sick or there’s an unexpected emergency draining your resources, you’ll be glad you built in a little cushion. In our experience, it’s easier to start with a high number and reduce it than to start with a low number and increase it. Remember, you’re managing relationships, and customers are always happy when their ticket is closed sooner than expected.

Also, consider working the SLA internally for about three months before sharing it with other business units. If you’re consistently within five minutes of breaching the SLA, make adjustments. Gather the numbers internally before you go out to business units to implement SLAs and underpinning contracts.

Metrics Matter
Every effective service level management program includes a way to track and measure performance over time. Some common key performance indicators to monitor are listed below.

  • Response Time: How long does it take to respond to an incident, such as a call from a customer, an e-mail, or an alert from a remote monitoring system that reveals a service or device may not be performing as expected?
  • Resolution Plan: How long does it take from the initial notification and response to formulate a plan to resolve the incident?
  • Resolution Time: How long did it take from the initial notification and response to actually implement the plan and restore service to normal levels?

Of course, what you actually measure will vary depending on your organization’s needs. It’s more important to measure the right kinds of things than to measure a lot of things. The metrics you choose to measure should help you ensure your customers are getting the level of service they need to meet their business needs.

Many sophisticated Service Management tools, Cherwell Service Management included, can help you manage your SLAs: create SLA targets, thresholds, and alerts; view dashboards; and create reports on the fly.

What’s the biggest challenge you face with SLAs?