A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a document of agreement officially signed by the service provider and the customer. The main characteristics of the service are taken care of here like quality, responsiveness, etc. Also, that all the terms in the contract must be fulfilled. Thus, it is the most important document of IT organizations specifically. The service receiver and the service provider are two main pillars of such companies; hence, it carries high importance and must not limit to papers.
SLA Agreements can be of three types – an Enterprise SLA Agreement is an agreement between all customers of an organization the service provider, a Customer SLA Agreement is between the service provider and a specific group of customers of the organization, and a Service SLA Agreement is signed between the service provider and customers of a specific service. Be the SLA Agreement of any of the above three types, the basic guidelines remain the same. The five categories to be mentioned are: descriptions of the service, service standards, duration (period), roles and responsibilities and criteria for evaluation.
Description of Service
The most important part of SLA Agreement is the type of services provided. Mentioning the description of the kind of service is a signal to the customers that you have understood what they need. These are usually described in a catalogue which includes infrastructure, applications, etc. Catalogue is not SLA; it is part of it and describes in detail all that you have to offer to the customers.
Next comes the standards of the service provided. Reliability, availability, service requests, responsivity and resolution times are included in this section. Make sure that you are not strict on the hours that you wish to work upon rather match it with the customer’s business working hours for their satisfaction. Also, be prepared to offer services in case of emergencies and train the service people on how to work and what kind or level of service is expected on their part.
The SLA Agreement must clearly specify the date at which agreement begins and of course the expiry date. You can track the performance from the date when the agreement starts and if there are alterations, add-ons etc. then make sure that you give ample time to communicate the same to your customers. At the time of expiration, make sure that you negotiate well with customers as you might have made long term agreements with maintenance, equipment leases on behalf of customers (for convenience).
Roles and Responsibilities
The companies are huge and have lot many departments, thus, ensure that everyone is assigned their roles properly in the SLA Agreement. This is done to show that you are well organised as well as a convenience for your customers. Try to make the SLA Agreement clear and specific, in case the customer has a problem with software or hardware, then he knows where to report immediately and get it fixed as soon as possible.
Do not forget to mention the details about your customer representative. Mostly, he deals with negotiations and discussions related to IT service and delivery. There is one more manager called the Service Level Manager, who manages the IT service department. He negotiates, reports, and maintains against SLA with your customer.
The evaluation tells about the outcome, how well your company has performed. Thus, there has to be certain criteria based on which evaluation takes place. The criteria is decided along with your customers, hence make sure that your organisations has proper tools for the same. Thus, the probability of vague evaluation decreases and your customers are well aware of the matrix. This will help in better and fair evaluation of the company.
Thus, you initially give an overview of the agreement in SLA Agreement in the beginning itself, followed by the goals and objectives. The stakeholders are to be mentioned along with the periodic review (annually, quarterly, etc). Then comes the most important part, the service agreement, where you give details about the service scope, customer requirements, service provider requirements, and service assumption (if any). Lastly, you describe the service management giving details about the service availability and service requests.
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