Feeds

Giving birth to a new breed of SLA

Marrying IT and business

Boost IT visibility and business value

There has been much discussion over the last few years in IT concerning service management and service level management. Much of the dialogue has centred on creating SLAs (Service Level Agreements).

In organisations large and small, a multitude of SLAs have been introduced between IT and its customers. It is fair to say that frequently the introduction of these SLAs have had little visible impact on the perceived quality of service enjoyed by customers.

It can also be argued that while the introduction of IT SLAs has not been felt by many customers to improve their perception of the IT services they receive, their introduction has, in many cases, materially worsened relationships between IT and its business customers. Why should this be so?

It is my belief that a major factor in the poor reputation enjoyed by most IT SLAs is a direct consequence of the fact that the majority have been written by IT specialists in terms that only make sense to someone with a sound understanding of IT systems and supporting infrastructures. For example, many SLAs focus only on 'uptime' or 'availability' — metrics that are only measurable by IT.

However, it is not unknown for IT systems to be measured as being up and available while users of the system consider them to be unavailable or running so slowly as to be regarded as unusable. Such disconnects in communication, SLA generation, SLA measurement and monitoring damage the reputation not just of the SLAs themselves but materially damage the trust between business consumers of IT services and IT departments.

The use of SLAs inevitably leads to the creation of customer expectations that the quality of the IT service delivered will improve. It is essential that such expectations are well managed. Even when service quality does get better, service consumers need to be told so, and they require that they receive such information in language they understand. Moreover, they need to have tangible proof to back up such claims.

The future of IT and the future of business are absolutely interconnected. It is therefore essential that a new breed of SLA be brought to bear in IT service delivery. Such SLAs must be more meaningful to the consumers of the service. This in turn requires customer input in the SLA generation process. SLAs must measure things that are tangible to the IT service consumer and measure factors of import to them. Availability will have a role to play, but not in isolation. Instead availability will be coupled with factors such as application response time, numbers of transactions executed, security levels achieved or any number of matters that are deemed by the service consumer to be important.

Such new SLAs will also demand that trusted, independent means of measuring and monitoring the SLA be implemented. Equally, the reporting of service levels delivered must become central to the IT – business customer relationship. Such reporting must be at a business level, not of a technical nature. If meaningful SLAs can be fashioned, monitored, and measured, IT services will meet business needs. More importantly, SLA monitoring in this manner provides IT with a means to positively improve its profile within the business itself. Today, it is fair to say that most business users of IT services neither trust their colleagues in IT nor understand the true business value IT delivers.

There is an opportunity here to materially improve these issues. Business needs IT. IT must garner business trust for both IT and the business to enjoy the maximum benefits deliverable by IT. Business-based IT SLAs have immense potential. Tools exist to support such SLAs but there also needs to be a will to do so. Are you ready?

Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.