You can set, manage, and monitor service expectations for your clients through the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) configuration option. SLAs help improve accountability and quality of service, especially when used in conjunction with any ITIL Service Level Management (SLM) best practices.
Terminology and Functionality
In a basic SLA scenario, an issue needs an initial response and complete resolution within a certain set of time frames. Exactly which time frames apply and when is automatically determined by a series of values, including its Severity and the Service Level defined within the Service Level Agreement for that particular Organization, Group or Asset. Throughout the life cycle of this issue, Compliance with the relevant Service Terms is also closely tracked through a number of reporting functions and—as needed—progressively reinforced with automatic email reminders and alerts.
Severities organize (SLA and optionally non-SLA) issues into categories based on their impact on the user or overall user base. These categories can have generic (e.g. Severity 1, Severity 2, Severity 3) or fairly descriptive (e.g. Major, Moderate, Minor, Minimal) names. Either way, any users permitted to select Severity can access detailed definitions by clicking the descriptions link beside the Severity field on the Submit Issue page.
While the Severity field is included on all issues, a value is required only for SLA-related issues. In addition, only SLA issues are automatically updated with a Default Severity when users cannot or do not specifically select one. (This default is controlled within the Service Level Agreement applied.)
Service Levels establish the quality of service categories (e.g. Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze) available through an SLA. Each Level contains its own distinct Service Terms for each Severity, including a maximum Time to Response (i.e. first non-Private Note added by a user other than Submitter) and Time to Resolution (i.e. solution provided and issue closed), as well as a Coverage schedule (e.g. Monday-Friday/9 am-5 pm, 24 hours) for when those times accrue. They may also have Exempt Days (e.g. holidays) excluded from their Coverage schedule.
Compliance with your Terms is calculated (and re-calculated if relevant Terms change) from the date and time an SLA issue is submitted and only during appropriate Coverage times. However, any Total Time Open or Escalations will still accrue according to Hours of Operation. This means your Hours of Operation are not affected by your Terms, nor do they have any effect on your Terms.
Service Level Agreements define the quality of service-specific Organizations, Groups, and/or Assets are to receive. Each Agreement includes its own Default Severity, as well as a Start and End Date. It may also have an Email Distribution List that notifies additional users (or groups) of the following:
- Response Reminder – First Response time halfway over
- Response Alert – First Response time exceeded (Out of Compliance)
- Resolution Reminder – Resolution time halfway over
- Resolution Alert – Resolution time exceeded (Out of Compliance)
From an SLA's Start to End Date, the Service Level in effect is displayed in that Organization, Group, or Asset's record. All users can view the Terms by clicking on the Service Level name.
Regardless of its Start Date, an SLA is automatically applied only to new issues submitted after the date and time it was saved to your system. However, it can be manually applied to existing issues submitted on or after its Start Date by updating their Severity (or any other value). More importantly, if an issue simultaneously qualifies for multiple SLAs, only one can be applied. This will be the Asset’s SLA—or if there is no Asset SLA—the Group or Organization SLA with the strictest Terms.
Once applied to an issue, the Service Level in effect is also displayed in that issue record (with Terms popup included), along with two additional fields. First Response Time is automatically populated with the date and time an initial response is added. First Call Resolution appears only on the Close Issue screen. This checkbox is automatically selected when the Submit and Close button is used from the Submit Issue screen—or can be manually selected from the Close Issue screen.
Setting Up SLAs
The initial setup required for implementing SLAs involves five tasks. These tasks must be completed in this order—but do not have to be completed all at one time:
- Activating SLAs
- Adding Severities
- Adding Service Levels
- Adding Service Terms
- Adding Service Agreements