The term Service Level Agreement (SLA) is increasingly appearing in the offers of IT companies and is sometimes presented in the context of quick response times. However, under this mysterious abbreviation there is a much broader meaning, which is a guarantee for the client to receive help from the support assistance, as well as a form of legal security for service providers. So it’s time to take a closer look and answer the question: what is SLA?
In our article you will learn:
- What is the Service Level Agreement?
- What should the SLA include?
- Service Level Agreement as support for the service provider
- How does the implementation of the SLA contract in Kotrak SA look like?
What is the Service Level Agreement?
SLA is an abbreviation for the English phrase Service Level Agreement, which specifies agreements regarding the level and terms of IT services rendered. The provisions contained in the document provide the customer with a guarantee of the quality of the contractor’s activities.
It is worth noting here that the Service Level Agreement is not only a time parameter specifying the date by which the reported problem must be resolved. It is primarily a set of all guidelines for service cooperation between the customer and the IT company. These records may, for example, specify the response time of the desk service to the reported problem, the type of supported software, or appoint a specific person to whom the client can contact at a critical moment.
The Service Level Agreement is determined at the service design level, and its implementation is measured as part of the Continual Service Improvement (CSI for short). The main goal of the process of Continuous Improvement of IT Services is to adapt the activities offered by the service provider to the changing business needs of the client. It reveals continuous work on improving e.g. systems supporting the activities of companies.
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What should the SLA include?
SLAs are now considered a standard activity offered by IT companies and in most cases are concluded based on the individual needs of the client. Therefore, when creating this type of document, it is important to include in its content the largest possible number of details about the expectations and needs of the client regarding the website.
The most popular entries specifying the scope of activities include:
- detailed description of services rendered – specification of the subject of service support; whether it is software, application, the amount of memory available each month, or something else
- determining the minimum time of availability of the service/system – it is worth determining the time during which e.g. the system or shared server will operate during a given period; is a protection for both the customer and the service provider in the event of an unexpected technical failure
- response time – i.e. the period in which the first response of the assistant to the notification from the client occurs
- time to resolve the problem – the time limit within which the contractor undertakes to solve the reported problem or present a workaround
- failure reporting procedure – guidelines specifying the way in which a customer reports a problem to the website, e.g. by phone, through Internet systems, etc.; it is worth remembering that submission made by the desk service website are a better solution than email submissions because they are easier to control and thus forward for processing; here it is also worth determining the hours of technical support availability, appointing contact persons or introducing prioritization of notifications, allowing the servicer to accelerate the solution of the most important failures
- monitoring and reporting of activities – this is not only an insight into the implementation of service work but also measuring the correctness of these activities and their subsequent optimization; cyclical meetings between the client and the service provider can also be included here to present the work done and agree on further plans
- the consequences of failure to comply with the contract – for example, by imposing financial penalties
What is the CSI process?
The SLA based contract guarantees the customer that if they report a problem, the service provider is required to respond within a specified time. However, the Service Level Agreement is also a security for the company offering the assistance service.
Thanks to the arrangements contained in it, the service provider knows how to act, what the client expects from them and how they are accounted for from these activities. He can also guarantee tools that will support him in complying with the contract, such as using the portal to report failures by the customer.
It is also worth remembering that fulfilling the SLA arrangements is not only financial savings in the case of penalties but also confirming the company’s reputation.
How does the implementation of the SLA contract in Kotrak S.A. look like?
At Kotrak S.A., we focus on constant contact with the client, which is why we also encourage contractors to conclude individually prepared Service Level Agreements with our company.
Our activities are reported in monthly reports, showing to what extent we comply with the provisions of the SLA. We measure this using the JIRA system, through which contractors can report failures. It is a convenient tool for both our support assistants and recipients. With its help, we can act in accordance with the response times set without difficulty. The system also allows us to monitor new notifications as well as fast communication with the client.
We also make sure that the Service Level Agreements have as much information as possible for specifying our activities. This not only avoids unnecessary misunderstandings with customers but also provides the highest quality technical support service.
The article was prepared in consultation with Marta Szopa, Service Delivery Manager at Kotrak S.A.
(Read more: IT company billing models: Fixed Price, Time and Materials, subscription.)
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