A service level agreement (SLA) is a formal agreement negotiated between a network service provider and client for product service. It outlines the relationship between provider and client using open communication to understand each other’s needs, complexities and expectations. It should include how to perform future service delivery, performance-tracking techniques, performance reports, managing problems and conflicts, legal compliance, security and termination.
SLAs are a dynamic tool which protects the provider and client with solid evidence of honoring the service level agreement. If needed, use SLA management services or SLA software to assist with tracking and documenting performance. To understand service level agreements basics, consider the following information:
1. Have a general understanding of issues addressed in a SLA.
2. Examine the process steps used to develop a SLA.
3. Determine whether you want to pursue a SLA for your organization.
Know the two core elements of an SLATwo necessary categories to include in your SLA are service and management. Service elements describe the context of service, service standards, conditions of service delivery and party responsibilities. The service level management element tracks and reports service effectiveness, provides a report review, navigates the change process and resolves disagreements.
Get an overview of the SLA writing processIn order for a SLA to be an agreement, it must be a joint process between provider and client. They must openly communicate and discuss their definitions of the agreement, establish ground rules for working together, and create a structure for the SLA document. Once an outline for the structure is in place, there is a rough draft to edit, and a final agreement emerges.
Duke University offers an overview with models and templates for SLAs.
Review business basics before deciding to develop an SLACarefully review the reasons you are considering an SLA. If you are trying to avoid client complaints, take steps to identify the client's issues. Gain clarity through problem-solving. Then, make sure the basic roles and responsibilities within your organization are clear - remove any ambiguities, gaps or overlaps. If there are still immediate issues, consider an SLA to define your role as provider and expectations of employees.
- An SLA does not include guarantees; service contracts are an insurance policy that provides compensation in the event of a mishap.