Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Service Level Management (SLM)
This site provides information and best practice advice on service level agreements, IT service level agreements, and service level management. You can also browse our extensive service level agreement (SLA) book & template store.
Read on for more information on SLAs and service level management, and the available books and templates covering the subject.
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SLAs and Service Level Management
Service level management and SLAs are key parts of the ITIL® approach to service management, though they are now becoming more and more commonly deployed outside of the service management and ITIL arenas. Thus having a resource to guide you on the legal and practical aspects of their usage is key - Service Level Agreement: A legal and practical guide.
In general, service level agreements are commonly used for setting out how two parties have agreed that a specific service (usually, but not necessarily, IT-related) will be delivered by one party to another party, and the standards or levels to which the service will be delivered.
Service level management on the other hand deals with the monitoring and reporting on service levels. It ensures that the service levels within the SLAs are monitored and, if they are not met, the relevant processes are informed so that they can take the appropriate actions.
While there are a number of useful books on SLAs, The Complete Guide to IT Service Level Agreements (3rd edition) is probably the best available, there is also The Definitive Guide to IT Service Metrics which is also a very useful read.
There also two particularly useful, comprehensive, long-lived and valuable SLA Toolkits.
The first is the SLA Framework: Templates and Tools for IT and Technology 12th edition, which contains checklists and everything you need to tackle, draft and agree SLAs - whether or internal or external;
The second is the Naomi Karten SLA Bundle, which contains templates and guidance to simplify your SLA creation process.
At the simplistic level, network and internet service providers use SLAs as a means to describe the minimum service to which they are prepared to commit themselves. At a more useful level, SLAs are used between independent organisations, as well as between divisions of the same organisation, as an effective means of setting out the planned relationship between the two.
The key word in 'service level agreement' is 'Service'. It relates, in other words, to services, not to products. Product specifications and supply requirements are efficiently dealt with through traditional procurement arrangements.
SLAs must contain clearly defined levels of service; these levels must be capable of measurement, and they must be directly relevant to the effective performance of the service supplier. An SLA that doesn't contain meaningful, measurable levels of performance is not worth the paper it's written on.
Finally, the SLA must be agreed. They are not a weapon for one organisation to beat another with and they are not therefore a panacea to all the ills of poor existing service. Those poor performance issues have to be resolved, and a clear future level agreed, before an SLA can be drafted and agreed.
Useful SLA and Service Level Management Books and Templates
Here are a selection of the leading resources on SLAs and service level management.