How many of your SLAs are hopelessly out of date or utterly unrealistic?
How many SLAs have you avoided updating because it would take a developer days to dig into an SLA that’s been hard-coded into your ITSM software?
SLAs are supposed to be the tools by which you gauge your service desk performance. They’re also ways to let your customers know what they can expect. If they’re flawed, it’s hard to tell how well you’re actually doing. And giving customers a realistic time to resolution? Forget it.
Fortunately, there is a better way forward than avoiding SLA updates and pretending the benchmarks don’t exist. You can use ITSM software with automation capabilities to help create better SLAs, to monitor your performance and to keep your service desk on track.
Create Better SLAs
When your SLA is unrealistic, your performance is never adequate. Start by reviewing the benchmarks you’ve set, and ask yourself whether goals are achievable.
Also, ask yourself whether your goals are set with enough granularity. Think about it: If an everyday employee requests a cord to connect their laptop to a projector to give a PowerPoint presentation at a low-level meeting, you may not be able to commit to responding in an hour or less. If the CEO is giving a critical presentation to investors and needs that cord right away, you’re going to drop everything and deliver.
Start by setting up automations for your most common SLA-governed tasks. Create the SLA in your ITSM software or service desk solution and set completion targets for specific actions. Then, add an automation that creates a daily or weekly report (or use reporting provided by your software) to see how well you’re doing.
You may decide to push your team harder to meet SLAs, or you may decide that your current performance, even if it’s not meeting the agreement, is good enough because customers don’t seem dissatisfied. Alternatively, you may decide that performance is adequate for certain customers but needs to be improved for different customers. Either keep your SLA as is or update it, and make sure to notify people if anything changes.
Make SLA Tracking Relevant
Should time to resolution be tracked assuming a 24-hour period, or should you only track time that elapses during normal business hours? The answer may be different based on the type of task or the scope of your organization. Automations help you monitor performance more accurately; why burn eight hours against your SLA metric when you’re not even open? You can automate tracking to shut off when you’re closed for the day. You can also use automations to pause the timer when you’re waiting for a customer response.
Tracking only for the sake of creating a report –which you may or may not check at the end of the week – isn’t a useful exercise. Use tracking to create prompts that keep your team focused and motivated. For example, if a certain task needs to be completed within two hours, create an automation that sends an email or text when 60 minutes have elapsed. Create an automation that escalates tasks after a certain amount of elapsed time.
And definitely, use automation to send emails letting customers know how you’re progressing. It’s motivating to know that customers expect you to complete a task by a certain time.
Great IT teams meet their SLAs – but they also set goals they can realistically achieve. Download our white paper: How World-Class Service Desks Use Benchmarking for Continuous Improvement.
About Matt Cox
Matt leads the sales engineers and support team for SolarWInds ITSM. His team works with customers to create tailored technical solutions for specific business needs. He once went hang gliding off a cliff in Ecuador.
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