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5 Simple Steps to Create a Perfect SLA

Aleks Yenin
 SLAs are kind of our thing. Our team is obsessed with them, we’ve shared some of our insights before but we realized that we didn’t pay much of attention to it in our blog. So here we are making things right.

1) Determine the service for your SLA

In fact each separate service has to have its own SLA . For your SLA you need to define its nature in one simple sentence.

2) Find what you can measure in this particular service

As the golden rule is «if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it», thus find what your team can measure and report. If you can align it with some basic KPIs – that’s even better, this way you ensure that your provider team works efficiently.

3) Find the business owner

Basically, this is the person who receives the service, whose day-to-day activities will largely depend on the services identified in your SLA. Sometimes you have a few candidates for the role, so gather them together and ask to pick a delegate who could watch closely so that SLA conditions are always met.

4) Define needs, metrics and goals

Now, organize a meeting with the business owner. Present the service you want to provide and find out more about business expectations. Present the metrics which you can track, and allow the business owner to pick a few, which are crucial to business performance. Be ready to provide recommendations.
Those metrics could be really fancy, but for starters, I would recommend picking just two:
  • system availability during business hours (define what those are)
  • incident resolution time during and after business hours

If you cannot track those two, seriously consider upgrading some of your ITSM software, and for the time being, propose some other relevant measures.

As for the targets – you need to measure your service for some time (a couple of months) in order to see what targets are realistic. After a set period of time, hold your first service review meeting, during which you will present results of your service provision.

On this meeting, you should also agree the minimum service levels with your business owner. Going below minimum causes your business owner’s operations to suffer and should be avoided at all costs. If it happens, you should prepare and present an improvement plan on the service review meeting.

5) Prepare the SLA Document

Now you are ready to prepare the actual SLA document. Make it very brief and understandable — not more than two pages. Bullet points are your friend. The simpler it is, the easier it is to get it implemented and improved upon later. I definitely advise to follow this rule for the first very SLA in your company.
Later on the documents tend to become more sophisticated. It goes together with the maturity of Service Level Management within the company, both on the IT side and on the business side.
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