Service Level Agreements

Agreements between service providers and customers are called Service Level Agreements (SLAs). They specify the scope and quality of the services to be provided. These are concrete agreements between the two parties in which expectations are set out in writing.

What are service level agreements?

IT managers often expect support to collect all requests and process them promptly so that a solution can be provided as quickly as possible. Usually, this expectation is met by the support service provider. But what should be done when employees complain about excessively long support times or non-availability? Unless there is an explicit regulation, the IT manager’s hands are tied when it comes to intervening.

It is therefore always advisable to define the TARGET state and record it in writing so that it can be compared with the current situation. Service level agreements specify exactly what is expected and what the consequences will be if the agreements are not adhered to.

What content is defined in the SLAs?

Service level agreements are as individual as the service itself. Nevertheless, some key points should be recorded, which we would like to show you in more detail below.

What support times should apply?

Within the SLAs, we speak of so-called service times. This refers not only to business hours, but also to extended service hours if required, beyond the usual 9:00 to 5:00. What about weekends, holidays, or at nighttime? Do you need reliable support during these times, as well? Be sure to record such things and also take into account the different time zones in case  you operate internationally.

Support in case of emergency or outside support hours

In any case, agree on so-called response times, i.e. a period of time within which you expect an initial response to your request. Of course, these response times can also depend on the agreed priorities. So by determining which issues should be prioritized and how, you can influence how quickly your tickets need to be processed. So ask yourself how long you could go without providing the service and decide on that basis, for example in case your SAP system suddenly fails. What is the maximum time you could accept the outage before the impact on your business units becomes noticeable?

How can you measure quality?

In the event of an error, tickets can often escalate, and then emotions quickly boil over. It is therefore even more important that you determine measurable KPIs that allow you to assess the quality of the activities provided. Depending on the services, different KPIs are more suitable.

In the 1st level, the number of calls answered within a certain period of time is often defined as a KPI. The 2nd level is usually assessed by resolution rate, i.e. how many problems have already been resolved.  Make sure that the KPIs fit your requirements.

This is why SLAs are so important

The topic of service level agreements often falls by the wayside and receives little attention. Within the scope of the specifications, the services are usually only described quite superficially. But would you rent an apartment if the rental agreement merely stated that you would occupy a property on a certain street? In order to maintain the satisfaction of both parties in the long term, much more extensive regulations are required.

Therefore, take the time to define the requirements and guidelines together with your service provider. Because then both parties know the expectations and can react accordingly. Measure the results and defined KPIs at regular intervals and address your service provider in good time in the event of deviations. In this way, you avoid hassle and contractual penalties on the one hand, and ensure that the collaboration is satisfactory for both parties involved on the other.

If you have any questions about SLAs, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help you and work with you to formulate suitable service level agreements.

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