Five Steps to SLA Success

Depending on your experience with service level agreements (SLAs), you either love them or hate them. Proponents of SLAs argue that they force IT workers to become customer-friendly, business-savvy employees. Opponents of SLAs feel that they just force IT departments into positions of subservience to the business and perpetuate the stereotype that IT departments are service providers rather than business partners.

Regardless of your perspective, here are 5 things to remember when planning service level agreements (from CIO Magazine, June 1, 2005):

1. Make clear to your staff the value of internal SLAs. In particular, explain how the baselines established in the SLA will let them know exactly where they stand in terms of performance.

2. Build buy-in with your staff by delegating some control over the agreement to those that will be held accountable for meeting the internal SLA. Ask these individuals, for example, to come up with a first draft.

3. To ensure that those same individuals don't set the bar for service too low, let them know that end-users will sign off on the agreement.

4. Be sure to consider the costs associated with providing various levels of service.

5. Account for the commitments your vendors have made to you about the levels of service they can provide.

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