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					ITU Customer Service Standards Committee

ITU Service Level Agreements
What is a Service Level Agreement and why do I need one? A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a document which identifies the agreed upon services that will be provided to a George Mason University organization or department for a service in order to insure that they meet the needs of the business supported. The SLA identifies customer expectations and defines the boundaries of the service, stating agreed-upon service level goals, operating practices, and reporting policies. You will need an SLA when clarification of responsibilities is needed between the service provider and the customer. The clarification may be needed if the service provided is out-of-the ordinary, requires a charge for an ongoing service, requires a commitment of staff to a specific service, etc. An SLA is needed when identifiable services (such as commitment of staff or other resources) provided by a unit in the ITU are requested by a customer (or another unit within the ITU), and an agreement of what services will be rendered is necessary/recommended. What is the purpose of a Service Level Agreement? The purpose of any Service Level Agreement is to describe and define the following:        What service(s) are being made available to what customers. What levels of service or quality of service the customer should expect. What period of time will the SLA cover. What the costs are to provide those levels of service. How the service will be delivered. How the service provider will monitor or track and report on performance. (For example, if using surveys to gauge performance, tie surveys to the elements in the SLA.) When the SLA will be reviewed and how to make changes to the SLA.

What should the SLA include? Before you begin negotiating and writing a Service Level Agreement, you should think about each item listed below: 1. Definition of service provided, parties involved, and effective dates of agreement. 2. Specifications of hours and days that service will be offered, including testing, maintenance and upgrades. 3. Specification of the number and locations of users and/or hardware/software for which the service will be offered. 4. Explanation of problem-reporting procedures, including conditions of escalation to next higher level of support.

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ITU Customer Service Standards Committee

5. Explanation of procedure for both parties to request minor changes to the way the service is provided (e.g., software upgrade to a server), which may include expected times for completing routine change requests. 6. Specification of charges and billing and payment procedures associated with the service, which may be flat rate or tied to different levels of service. 7. Specification of target levels of service quality and how associated metrics are calculated and how frequently they are reported, to include availability and response time. 8. Specification of customer responsibilities under the SLA, which may include: * training * maintaining proper desktop configuration. * customer and ITU responsibilities in disaster recovery * defined point of contact * proper use of resources provided * provision of licenses * maintenance agreements on hardware 9. Description of procedures for resolving service-related disagreements. 10. Process for amending SLA. Be sure to include expected growth, change, and demand for the service or system. 11. Specifications of how to address off-hours support, unscheduled outages, or emergency back-up systems, and how emergencies will be handled.

Who Prepares the SLA? Usually the SLA will be written by the ITU manager responsible for providing the service in collaboration with the customer. How Do I Write a Service Level Agreement? First, remember that a SLA is a negotiable agreement between you (the service provider) and the customer (or other internal group). Any SLA that is drafted needs to be agreed to by both parties. Your SLA will only be effective if a collaborative approach to writing the agreement is taken. Only attempt an SLA where service needs can be defined and are reasonably stable. Before an SLA can be written, the service provider needs to have a thorough understanding of what the service level objectives are and how operational realities affect them. For example, if there is a strong operational objective to keep the actual staff hours associated with providing a service to an average of 2 hours per week, this will strongly influence the ability to provide high availability to the customer. Ask yourself:    What is the objective of the SLA? Understand that a SLA cannot cover every possible situation that may arise. Giving teeth to SLA agreements is an effective way to ensure commitments are kept. Additionally, it is recommended that staff performance evaluations be tied to SLA performance 2

ITU Customer Service Standards Committee

where appropriate. It is just as important for both parties to take responsibility for their aspects of the SLA. Make sure you have responsibilities and the consequences for failure to adhere to them defined in the SLA.       Resources needed to support an SLA should be defined and measured against available resources to ensure that they’re truly available to service the SLA. How mission critical is the service being provided to the operations of the University? Will the staffing provided have the resources and training necessary to fulfill the agreements made? How will the SLA influence employee behavior? Is this influence on behavior in keeping with other operational level objectives? Conversely, how do the operational level objectives influence service level objectives, how will they affect IT costs and how can these costs best be explained to the customer?

Who should sign the SLA?
All parties should have an opportunity to review and provide input into the negotiated SLA. The final SLA should contain signatures of appropriate representatives from the participating areas. The ITU representatives typically will be a Manager and a Director. The representatives from each area should then distribute the SLA to the customer and the appropriate staff in their areas and/or the SLA should be made available electronically.

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ITU Customer Service Standards Committee

Service Level Agreement – Roadmap
Page 1: (Cover Page with signature of service provider and customer, date of signing, and review date )

Service Level Agreement Between (Department Name) and (ITU Department Name)
The purpose of this Service Level Agreement is to (state purpose and objectives of the SLA). The term of this Agreement is effective on the date signed by all parties, and through ___________ (typically this will be through the present fiscal year, or a shorter or longer period of time as appropriate). Approximately two months prior to the end of the fiscal year, both parties will review this agreement and assess its success. Any necessary changes will be made to subsequent agreements as needed.

Signatures:

ITU Director ITU Manager Department Signature(s)

Date Date Date

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ITU Customer Service Standards Committee

Page 2 and beyond: 1. Description of Service and Service Level Expectations Systems Supported Services Included Services Not Included How Service Will Be Delivered Hours of Operation Describe regular business hours Describe after-hours support (how to contact, under what circumstances, response expectations) Define regularly scheduled maintenance windows Define Service Commitments by ITU Department Define Service Commitments by Customer Department Metrics for both ITU and Customer may include reliability goals (such as up time, system availability, error rate, data integrity, etc), response time goals, quantity/quality goals, frequency, etc. Define Service Priorities (Regular Business Hours and After-Hours) Problem Reporting Process Regular business hours and After Hours Support - how to contact, response expectations Outline Escalation Process 2. ITU Department Responsibilities List specific responsibilities and measurable performance goals 3. Customer Responsibilities List specific responsibilities and measurable performance goals 5. Performance Reporting Define reporting cycle (weekly, monthly, etc.) Describe how well the service measures goals are being met for ITU Department and Customer Department 6. Other Items and Issues List any costs associated with providing service, and which party(ies) is responsible for the cost List other issues that are specific to this SLA

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