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SLA Approach

The SLA (Service Level Agreement) model is typically used for support and maintenance of systems. The SLA provides services with clearly and strictly agreed constraints and requirements.

When we talk about a SLA for IT services it usually includes the following activities:

Incident management

This process supports the restoration of normal operational services as quickly as possible and minimizes the negative impact on business operations. The following activities are performed during this process:

  • Incident detection and recording
  • Classification
  • Investigation
  • Resolution
  • Closure
  • Monitoring and tracking
  • Incident handling

Problem management

This process comprehensively records incidents in order to identify the cause of the incidents and trends. The following activities are performed during this process:

  • Identify, document, classify and analyze the problem
  • Evaluate the error, plan and initiate troubleshooting
  • Support handling of involved incidents
  • Proactive measures (trend analysis, quality reports etc.)

Change management

This process controls changes to the services. The following activities are performed during this process:

  • Prioritizing changes
  • Assessing impact
  • Scheduling
  • Management reporting

Release management

This process ensures that only authorized versions of software are made available for operation. The following activities are performed during this process:

  • Release planning, designing, building and configuring
  • Release acceptance
  • Rollout planning
  • Communication, preparation and training
  • Distribution and installation
  • Documentation

Service Level Management

This process ensures the quality of the IT services provided. It includes the following key activities:

  • Identifying IT services and service requirements
  • Defining, building and managing the IT Service Catalogue
  • Negotiating Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Operational Level Agreements (OLAs)
  • Monitoring and managing SLAs, OLAs
  • Initiating service improvement actions

The following picture illustrates the processes described above (with the exclusion of Configuration Management):

 

The cooperation under the SLA based model requires the clear understanding of the responsibilities of the service provider and the customer. Usually, the responsibilities are represented as Service Levels, like the following:

  • Level 1 – Comprises of help desk activities which will include: call intake, logging, first user help regarding system configuration, network or system access and related to specific functions of specific business application.
  • Level 2 – Comprises of: usability help related to the applications covered by maintenance services, 'how to' and 'how do' questions. In addition log files analysis and remote parameter setting is performed along with database configuration, correction of erroneous or corrupt data.
  • Level 3 – Comprises of: source code analysis of existing application and bug fixing if the application software is not working according to the specification.
  • Level 4 – Comprises of: source code analysis of existing application and the development of changes or additional functionality on user request or when required by new environment configuration.

In most cases, when parts of service levels are outsourced, the service provider responsibilities include levels starting from 2. Service level 1 requires direct contact with end users of the systems and appropriate communication environment. We have experience performing services under the SLA agreement which include all the levels as well as only several of them.

 
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