Establishing Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Here are a few more thoughts on how to get started establishing service level agreements in your organization.

Know your current support metrics. One of the biggest objections of those that provide service is an unwillingness to commit to service goals that cannot be met. The biggest objection of those receiving service from you is that you take too long in delivering the service. Both of these objections are based on “gut feelings.” If you have actual cycle times (time to resolve cases) by severity levels, then both of these objections go away. That is the power of real numbers. If you do not have a process in place for setting severity levels for cases, it is better to postpone the start of the project until you have done this. Set up your own guidelines within your Support Center team and then religiously assign severity levels for every case. You do not even have to tell anyone outside of the Support Center. You will be surprised by how much informal severity level setting is already taking place. This is also a good time for a customer satisfaction survey. It will provide a baseline for measuring improvements.

Can your IT help desk software measure time to respond and time to resolve Service Level Agreements? Your help desk software application will need to do this for you to be successful with managing service level agreements.

Team meeting. Hold a project team meeting to explain the goal and determine tasks and timelines. It is in the team meetings that many of the fears come out. If a support group says that the Support Center can not be accurate in setting the priorities, then ask them the following. Ask them to create a document with the types of cases they normally receive, the type of questions and documentation they need in the case and what the priorities should be by case types. This will be used to instruct the Support Center on setting priorities. When the Support Center does not set priorities correctly, you will want a process for notifying and training the individual who handled the case.


Here is a great White Paper on Implementing Service Level Agreements. See 

Select Implementing Service Level Agreements: "The Critical Element in Service Delivery"