What is SLA, why do IT companies need it, and how to create it to establish practical cooperation with customers?
What Is SLA
SLA (English Service Level Agreement – service level agreement) is an agreement between the customer and the contractor about what, when, and how services will be provided. It also includes the rights and obligations of the parties. SLA uses them in IT and telecommunications.
This term refers to the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) methodology, which describes the best ways to organize the work of companies providing IT services.
What Is SLA For?
In simple words, SLA is a contract that describes the services provided, their quality, response time to the application, and its execution.
Let’s say there is a provider that provides IT outsourcing services. Clients of such companies do not always understand how the outsourcing company works, and its employees do – this can lead to misunderstanding.
For example, the chief accountant of a client may be dissatisfied that the administrator from the provider’s side raises some server there (it’s business for 5 minutes, and he’s been messing around for 2 hours) instead of refilling cartridges in the accounting department.
And to avoid such moments and maintain good relations, the outsourcing company can draw up an SLA in which:
- describes the problems that the company can fix;
- categories are indicated by urgency (emergency, severe, minor, minor);
- the terms and cost of troubleshooting in different conditions (with and without remote access) were determined
- The response time for each application is prescribed.
And now, customers will know that if 20 out of 30 thin clients stop working at once, then the employee will be able to do this in 15-30 minutes, and it will take 1 to 5 hours to fix it. And if the problem is with the printer, the response will be only in an hour, although the solution will take only 10 minutes.
How To Write An SLA
There is a typical structure that should be followed to draw up an outsourcing contract for the provision of services:
- Determination of the parties to the service provided and the contract terms.
- Days and hours of services (including testing, support, and upgrades).
- The number of users and equipment, as well as their territorial distribution.
- Description of the problem reporting procedure.
- Description of the process for filling service requests.
- Definition of service quality levels.
- Description of payments.
- Customer’s responsibility.
- Ways to resolve disagreements.
- Possible actions to improve the agreement.
All these points should be spelled out in great detail. So, for example, when describing the level of quality, you need to take into account such parameters as:
- average server availability (if the contractor provides hosting services );
- minimal availability;
- the average response time of the performer to the appeal;
- maximum response time;
- average connection bandwidth (if the contractor is an Internet provider).
The currency and cost are indicated if we are talking about payment. For example, there may be a fixed subscription fee or tariffs for troubleshooting various problems. It also shows the contractor’s compensation in case of an extended response or if the issue is not resolved correctly.
All critical points should be measurable, that is, have a digital equivalent – the maximum downtime in minutes, the availability in the average number of failures over a certain period, and so on.
The complete information about SLA can be found in the descriptions of the ITIL and COBIT standards (from the English. Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies – “Management Tasks for Information and Related Technologies”).