Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
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Service Level Agreements (SLAs): Do you offer a warranty?

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Service Level Agreements (SLAs)As we all know, organisations of the modern era are looking more and more towards IT to supply a certain level of service. But what metrics should this level of service aim to meet and exceed? And how should these metrics be determined and measured? In order to offer efficient and effective VttB (value-to-the-business), IT should always aspire to reach 100%. Gulp.This is something that ITSM visionary Malcolm Fry spoke in-depth about during his latest webinar on SLAs and CSI. He described SLAs as actually being more like Service Level ‘Commitments’ as opposed to Agreements, as the word agreement connotes negotiation. SLAs should be committed, set-in-stone goals and targets not something negotiable.

Now, I can almost sense your fear – offering committed targets? This means accountability! No, it means setting the right balance between ‘Performance’ and ‘Quality’. Quality SLAs must be set, and they should be used to provide direction and targets aimed to challenge and deliver. Aspire for 100% not the 98% first call-resolution rate that was last quarter’s average. Targets set purposely to be easily met are counterproductive. All they do is protect IT, they do not overcome barriers or provide VttB.

Malcolm uses the term ‘SLA Squad,’ which, in his eyes, are like ‘Corporate Marines’ that govern SLAs. He states they should define services, measure key constituents, offer feedback to customers, provide solutions and justify budgets. He went on to say that when creating and agreeing SLAs, ‘you must think contract and warranty’. This warranty must cover aspects that drive quality and performance, and it needs to offer solutions the business and consumer needs not what IT thinks the business needs.

But what SLA metrics effectively quantify performance and quality?

According to Malcolm, demand, capacity, availability, reliability, governance, incident, change, problem, request fulfilment, configuration are all metrics that matter. He also states that if requirements aren’t met, customers will be lost. Your ‘SLA Squad’ should set SLAs that turn these metrics into reality. But ultimately, critical success factors (CSFs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) provide the structure to the warranty, and performance and quality shape the T&Cs.

What warranty does YOUR IT department offer to your business? Would you be comfortable accepting this type of warranty on a new car or washing machine? Tell us what you think.

If you think you exceed SLAs and would like to showcase your Service Desk and the contribution it makes, watch a recent webinar with Malcolm as he discusses how you can use metrics to tell stories that highlight successes and true business impact.