Introduction to Service Level Management : SLA
Service Level Management, or SLM, is defined as taking the responsibility to ensure that all its service management processes, operational level agreements, and support contracts, are appropriate for the agreed-upon service level targets. SLM monitors and reports on service levels, and holds regular customer reviews. Besides, the key criteria for any information to be contained within a Service Level Agreement (SLA) is that it must be measurable, with all language used is clear and concise in order to aid understanding. This blog briefs you on the concepts of SLA and its features, Designing SLA structures, Types of SLAs, an example of an SLA document, Monitoring Service Level Agreements, and an example of a Service Level agreement process.
Features of Service Level Management
Service Level Managers take the responsibility to set the agreements between a service provider and customer which defines the scope, quality, and speed of the services being provided. The SLM offers the customer an expectation of service within a known timescale and the monitoring capability when service levels are not being met. SLM can be used in various fields such as HR, Facilities, and IT to keep track of how internal and external teams are performing against their agreed service levels. Service level management offers features such as SLA definitions, Task SLAs, Integration with other ServiceNow plugins.
The SLA definition record will be used for defining a specific set of criteria that would result in generating an SLA. The following parameters have to be defined.
Table: SLAs can be defined against any task table.
Duration: This specifies the time duration in which the service must be provided to the customer.
Schedule: The schedule can be specified which indicates valid working and non-working days that the service provider follows to deliver the service. The selected schedule will be used to determine when the SLA will breach.
Conditions: You can specify the conditions under which the SLA will start, pause, stop, or reset.
When an SLA Definition is triggered against a particular task, the Task SLA record is generated which contains all the tracking data of the specific SLA on that record. For instance, if an SLA Definition exists for P1 incidents a Task SLA record will attach to the P1 incident record and captures all the data associated with it. In most of the cases, there exist multiple Task SLA records against a single task since many definitions apply.
Additional SLM Plugins
The plugins enable extra functionality within SLM. The plugins include SLA Contract Add-on and Service Portfolio Management - SLA Commitments.
Designing SLA Structures
There are many ways to structure your SLAs in Service Level Management. The following are a few significant factors that are considered:
Does the SLA structure allow flexibility in the service levels to deliver for various customers?
Does the SLA structure require much duplication effort?
Who are the stakeholders that will sign the SLAs?
Service-based, Customer-based, and Multi-level or Hierarchical SLAs are the three options that structure the SLA which is focused by ITIL. Various factors must be considered when deciding an appropriate SLA structure while using it for an organization.
Types of SLA
There are three types of SLAs available that are Corporate, Customer, and Service levels.
The corporate level SLA covers all the general issues relevant to the organization and they are the same throughout the entire organization. For instance, with security SLA at the organization level, every employee must create passwords with eight characters and has to change them every thirty days or every employee needs to have an access card with an imprinted photograph.
The customer level SLA deals with the issues that are specific to a customer. The security requirements are higher with an organization having one or more departments. For instance, the financial department needs more top security measures by virtue of its crucial role and handling of financial resources.
The service level SLA covers all issues relevant to a specific service in relation to the customer. This is applicable to all customers who contract the same service. FOr instance, contracting IT support services for everyone who uses a particular IP telephone provider.
The duplication effort reduces for large organizations because of using a multi-level structure while still providing customization for customers and services. Hence, corporate-level SLAs are applicable to every individual and every department in that organization while customer level SLAs are applicable only to the department, and so on.
Example of SLA Document
An SLA document typically consists of the aspects of the service, including responsibilities, quality, and availability, that are agreed on between the service provider and service user. Hence, you have to make sure that you can deliver the promised product at the promised time. The document includes the following aspects.
An introduction to the SLA, what does this agreement propose?
A Service description, what is the service that SLA supports, and details of the service.
Mutual responsibilities, who is responsible and for what part of the service?
Scope of SLA.
Applicable service hours, from which time and till what time is the service available according to the agreement?
Service availability, how much is the service available during the service window and outside of the service window?
Customer support arrangements.
Contact points and escalation; a communication matrix.
Costs and charging method used.
Monitoring Service Level Agreement
Monitoring enables you to view all the details of every SLA task record that is created. In the task SLA record, you can view the task SLA details like at what stage the task SLA is in and is it breached? You can also view the target of the agreement being defined as None, Response, or Resolution. Target is used for filtering, searching, and reporting purposes.
Moreover, you could also get an overview of the task SLA timings such as the actual and business elapsed time and percentage, and the actual and business time left in days and hours. The following are the features available in SLA ServiceNow.
SLA timeline :- This SLA timeline feature helps you to comprehend the progress of an SLA. The timeline provides detailed insights about the task updates which are triggered when any stage changes are reflected during the task SLA life cycle.
SLA timer :- The SLA timer component is used to track the amount of time that is required to complete the task as defined by the matching SLA definition.
SLA notifications:- This feature of SLA forwards the notifications at certain events that are defined in the workflow.
Example of Service Level Agreement Process
As work is performed on the relevant task, the SLA can change the stage appropriately, depending on the information defined for that SLA in the relevant SLA definition. For instance, if an incident is resolved within the time specified, the SLA stage value is typically set to “Complete”. Similarly, if the incident does not reach the required condition within the set amount of time, the Task SLA record associated with that incident will be marked as “Has Breached”. For instance, by default, if a P1 incident is not resolved within 8 hours, the Task SLA for that incident will have the value “Has Breached” set to “true”.
The below example describes how an SLA can be attached to an incident, then progressed to completion.
Steps to process an SLA using ServiceNow
Navigate to “Incident -> Create New”.
Set both “Impact” and “Urgency” parameters to “1”. This changes the “Priority” value to “1 - Critical”.
Save the form. The Task SLA Related List will now be having a Priority 1 SLA attached to this incident. Note: The default Priority 1 resolution (8 hours) SLA definition record is used to create and attach this Task SLA.
Change the parameter “Impact” to “2”, which changes the “Priority” value to “2 - High”, then save the form. The Priority 1 SLA will now be marked as “Cancelled”, and a Priority 2 SLA has been attached, because of the conditions on the SLAs.
Change the “Incident State” to “Awaiting User Info”, then save the form. The “Awaiting User Info” is a “Pause” condition on the Priority 2 SLA, so the SLA is marked “Paused”. Note: The pause duration on Task SLA gets updated only after the SLA moves out of pause.
Change the parameter “Incident State” to “Active”, then save the form. This is because the incident is no longer in a “Pause” condition, it resumes timing.
Enter any Close code and Close notes values in the Closure Information section of the incident.
Change the parameter “Incident State” to “Resolved”, then save the form.
The SLA will be marked as Completed.
Comprehending the concepts of Service Level Management and Service Level Agreement structure offers various business advantages for your organization to deliver on its promises. You will gain the ability to create and manage service solutions ensuring that your business and its customers are able to communicate more clearly to fulfill the mutual needs by defining the SLAs in ServiceNow.