Service Level Agreements are central to the relationship between IT Service Delivery functions and the Business Consumers of their services; they define the agreed expectation of the level of service which the Customer (internal or external) can expect to receive.
As such an SLA should be written in language understood by a reader who may not have a technical IT background. Moreover, it should ensure that the level of service delivery is objectively measured, using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
The objective of the agreement is to provide a framework to ensure high quality and timely delivery of IT services to support the Business, and encompasses:
- The demonstration of ongoing service quality through the agreement and monitoring of availability and performance targets.
- Transparency around Service Achievement via regular reporting against defined KPIs.
- A baseline of Service Performance against which a continuous service improvement plan can be developed and measured.
- Compliance with relevant best practice and standards (e.g. ISO20000).
If you can’t report back against KPIs in a consistent and timely manner, then the objectivity that is crucial to a creditable measure of performance against the SLA is lost. Under these circumstances, the likelihood is that your organisation will fall back on subjective measures, leading to Service Quality debates based on opinions, which is the very thing that Service Level Management is designed to move away from.
So, to the question posed in the title of this article; How can you report credibly against KPIs?
Well, the first thing to do is to ensure that the KPIs in the SLA (which are typically described in Business terms) are measurable technically. I.E. that the measure laid out in the SLA can be directly linked to something which can be consistently monitored (preferably by an automated tool).
These KPIs measures typically fall into two categories; Performance and Availability. Both should be possible to measure against defined thresholds using a systems monitoring tool, thus providing a warning to an Event Management function should an SLA break occur (or be about to occur).
Better still, the monitoring solution should include the ability to look at trends over time so that changes in Service Performance (potentially linked to a change in the Business workload profile) can be detected and called out early during Service Reviews. This level of pro-active KPI measure and open dialogue with the consumers of a Service has been shown to significantly increase satisfaction with IT Service Delivery functions, even where the actual Service Quality is unchanged.
If you would like to know more about how we have put solutions in place to deliver KPI measures and comprehensive Management Reports, please feel free to give me a call at Orb Data on +44 (0)1628 550450 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.