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Service level agreement (SLA) policy

Originally Published:
Mar 2017

An effective SLA establishes standards for critical operational concepts like uptime, service quality, problem response/resolution times, and performance metrics. This policy provides a foundation for building an SLA that protects both service providers and their customers.

From the policy:

Service level agreements streamline operations and allow both parties to identify a proper framework for ensuring business efficiency and customer satisfaction. On the flip side, businesses can identify where problems lie if service level agreements are not adhered to, then make the necessary decisions to find additional budget funding, impose penalties, or seek alternate providers and staff.

These agreements can exist between businesses (such as between a company and an external cloud provider) or entirely within an organization (such as between an IT department or help desk and its user base). They can be unidirectional (one party assuming responsibility for all details) or bidirectional (both parties share responsibility for certain elements or actions).

Customer responsibilities
Customer are expected to work with providers to establish acceptable and reasonable service level agreement requirements—such as performance metrics or response times—based upon operational need. For instance, seeking 99.999% uptime is a common and feasible trend, but 100% uptime may be impossible.

Customers are expected to follow all technical or legal requirements, such as security policies, acceptable usage governances, regulatory compliance mandates, internet access policies, and all other applicable guidelines.

Customers must contact the provider via appropriate and established methods A service level agreement can’t be applied to alternate or unapproved methods of contact, such as leaving a voicemail directly on a technician’s phone line. The technician might be on vacation, and therefore the service level agreement would be breached. Only an approved, shared contact number should be used.

Customers must acknowledge planned outage notifications (such as for maintenance) and work with providers as needed to address potential problems that may arise from these scenarios.

Customers must notify providers to request additions or changes in established service levels. If providers are represented by internal individuals or groups (such as the IT department) changes to service level agreements should be discussed and mutually agreed upon by authorized personnel (such as the IT director).

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