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When your SLAs have to be more than merely SMART

As the elements of your technology infrastructure become ever more interdependent, you’ve likely faced mounting hassles associated with ensuring that they consistently deliver the levels of service your business requires.

Some of these hassles result from the gap between what your enterprise needs and what the off-the-shelf services, systems, and apps you rely on actually provide — leading to a need to customize and integrate elements of your infrastructure (a topic on which I’ll be focusing in my next post).

Yet even before you consider customization and integration — and certainly any time you do customize and/or integrate your infrastructure — I urge you to pay close attention to your service level agreements (SLAs).

What is a SMART SLA?
A typical SLA will describe the type of service being provided to you, its performance level objectives as well as how performance levels are monitored and measured, timeframes for response and issue resolution, and consequences for failure to meet the SLA’s parameters.

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A good SLA is often described as SMART:
  • Specific — defines expectations for service delivery with sufficient detail and specificity;
  • Measurable — describes the ways that actual performance will be measured and tracked against promised SLA performance targets (e.g., uptime, response time);
  • Achievable — delineates realistic performance goals;
  • Relevant — relates directly to both the technology service being delivered and the ways that service is evaluated; and
  • Timely — includes timeframes against which the service will be delivered.
Beyond SMART: how to coordinate your multiple SLAs

Generally, you’ll have an SLA for each of your technology services rather than a single SLA for all of them. This makes sense, given that different services have different requirements and what defines success for one can spell disaster (or irrelevance) for another.

Multiple SLAs, however, can spawn their own problems — especially as your technology infrastructure increasingly relies on service arrangements rather than in-house systems and devices.

It’s not merely that all those SLAs — their metrics, their timeframes, etc. — must be managed, which takes time and attention to detail.

It’s also that the intensifying interconnectedness and interdependence of the various services powering your technology infrastructure also require you to, in effect, coordinate the performance objectives and timeframes of their various SLAs.

Fortunately, you can accomplish this without pulling all-nighters. Here at Quest, for instance, you can bundle SLAs for our many services into a single QuestFlex® SLA that ensures your technology requirements are provided, maintained, and supported regardless of location (yours or ours). You’ll get the flexible, scalable technology capabilities you need faster, with less risk, and for a simple single monthly payment.

Meet the Author
Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.
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