Outsourcing certain areas of business has become a far more popular choice for small to medium enterprise owners. It is not only a cost effective solution, but it can also ensure that you get the most professional assistance in these areas. Outsourcing does often require the setting up of an IT service level agreement to ensure that both parties are aware of what is required and expected of them.
The aim of having an IT service level agreement is to manage expectations, both for the client and the service provider. Some key points to remember when creating an IT service level agreement are as follows:
- An IT SLA is a communications tool. The creation of the SLA is an ideal opportunity to open up lines of communication between the client and the service provider.
- An IT SLA can be used for conflict prevention. The agreement should clarify and provide understanding of the responsibilities of both parties in terms that both parties understand. This can then be used to resolve or prevent misunderstandings which can lead to conflict.
- An IT SLA is a living document. The agreement need not be set in stone. Company structures and IT requirements change and the SLA should change along with them.
When you are setting up your IT service level agreement it is important to ensure that both service and management aspects of the agreement are put in place. This will help to ensure that the agreement works well for both parties.
The service elements of an IT service level agreement should encompass the following:
- Details of the services to be provided
- The terms and conditions of service availability
- Service standards which should include estimated time frames for the completion of tasks where possible
- The responsibilities of both parties
- Procedures to be followed for escalations
The management elements of the IT service level agreement should encompass the following:
- Procedures for tracking service effectiveness
- Procedures for reporting and addressing service effectiveness
- Procedures for the resolution of service related disagreements
- Schedule for reviewing and revising the service level agreement
Once the terms of the SLA have been established and agreed to, it is up to both parties to ensure that the relationship is a success. Failure in either the management elements or the service elements of the SLA will lead to dissolution of the relationship.