Service level agreements, or SLAs, are ways to formally define services, including a particular service’s scope, quality, and responsibilities. SLAs may be put in place between an external service supplier and a company, or internally between a department and those the department serves. For example, some help desks define SLAs between themselves and end-users that define delivery time, which party is responsible for reporting problems, and what happens if the help desk fails to follow through on its promises.
When your help desk software can define SLAs and monitor SLA goals, it’s easier for your help desk team to know where “pain points” are and address them quickly, before they can grow worse. Here’s what you should know about SLAs and your IT help desk.
Your help desk software can make or break your ability to meet SLA terms.
Benefits of Using SLAs
Are SLAs strictly necessary for running an efficient and effective IT help desk? Probably not, but there are many benefits of implementing SLAs. When you create and implement SLAs, you can stay on top of issues more easily and solve smaller problems before they turn into bigger problems that drain productivity. Additionally, using SLAs as a source of “ground truth” you can more effectively demonstrate how the IT help desk performs effectively for purposes of resource planning. Implementing SLAs also lets you benchmark your services so you can see where your help desk excels and where it may need to improve.
Can Your Help Desk Software Help You Manage SLAs?
Maybe you think SLAs are a good idea, but don’t know where to begin. Start with your help desk software. Some help desk software solutions allow you to create SLAs specifying services your IT team is expected to provide and setting SLA target goals. You can then use other help desk software features to help you meet SLA targets by, for example, implementing automated routing of help desk tickets, attaching expected due dates to help tickets, and creating reports demonstrating the help desk’s compliance with SLA targets.
Help Desk Software and SLA Monitoring
Some help desk software solutions are better than others at helping you define and monitor SLAs. And some help desk software solutions are better than others at giving you the tools your team needs to meet and exceed SLA goals. After all, what good are SLAs if your help desk software doesn’t allow you to organize, prioritize, and manage help tickets efficiently? Help desk software that is integrated with IT asset management features is more useful still in helping you meet SLA goals, because it allows you to have an instant, total view of your organization’s IT assets so you can pick up on trends (“That brand of printers always breaks,” for example.) and understand the history of any piece of hardware or software that has issues that need resolving.
Service level agreements are only effective if they’re understood by both parties to the agreement and if the provider of the SLA is committed to meeting the goals set out. SLAs can be a useful tool for IT help desks to define services they offer, how those services are delivered, and what the penalties are when the terms of an SLA are not met. They can also be useful for the IT department in documenting successes when it’s time to plan resources and budgets.