Most large companies have adopted formal IT service level agreements (SLAs), but new research suggests that these are met only three-quarters of the time.
A study of 389 organisations across the US, UK, Europe and China by Forrester Research found that the primary reason for missing SLAs is that the business unit has expectations beyond the reach of IT.
A key reason for this mismatch in expectations is the use of IT-centric service level metrics that are not compatible with business objectives.
The study found that 41 per cent of respondents agreed that their insight into service levels is basic, and that they do not provide SLA information to executives on a regular basis.
Furthermore, four out of 10 respondents agreed that their service level reporting lacks information that their executives have requested.
"By relying solely on technology-focused metrics, IT is missing an opportunity to engage in effective dialogue with the business to move toward proactive service management," said Steve Tack, vice president of IT service management at Compuware, which commissioned the research.
A far better way of measuring system performance is through end-user experience monitoring, according to Tack, which can provide IT departments and managers with visibility into the quality of service from the end-user perspective.
Tack believes this can help bridge the divide between what IT sees on the network and what end users actually experience.
"The ultimate judge of IT and business alignment is the end user," said Jean-Pierre Garbani, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.
"If alignment is viewed as conformity to user expectations in terms of availability, performance, usability and accuracy, then monitoring end-user performance is the only way IT knows that it is meeting these expectations."
The report found that a poor IT service and the lack of effective end-user monitoring can have a significant financial impact.
Nearly six out of 10 respondents said that poor application performance had resulted in increased costs to the business, and 48 per cent reported that it had resulted in lost revenue.
Michael Allen, director of service management at Compuware, told vnunet.com: "Many SLAs may be based on seemingly reasonable demands.
"But if IT does not have the capability in place to measure these, it is very hard to determine whether they were reasonable to begin with and what impact they have on the end user."
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