Service level agreements (SLAs) were once seen as the ultimate tool for aligning IT with business needs, but many have out-lived their usefulness.
Organisations should review their SLAs because IT and business changes so quickly, according to Paul Southall, community lead for messaging and communication at Avanade.
"Unless SLAs are actually representative of what IT can deliver, they are meaningless," he said.
"It's becoming all too common that the IT team works with the business to set meaningful agreements, but overlooks the SLA review process.
"With today's rate of technology development, the service levels will be unrepresentative within six months."
The dislocation between SLAs and reality often occurs where IT processes have accelerated but the SLA has been left unchanged.
Equally, changes in business process and increased demand for services are not reflected in the SLA. At the most basic level, service levels are inaccurate because a system was never built with the needs of the business in mind.
This problem is potentially wasting time, money and resources, meaning that the business and users are not able to fully realise the benefits of IT investments.
Southall has outlined basic steps to help senior managers ensure that SLAs remain a useful measure.
Organisations should educate users on the importance of SLAs, determining what they are and why they should be realistic and reflective of business requirements.
SLAs should also be reviewed on at least a biannual basis to ensure that the benefits of IT enhancements are being passed back to the business. Lastly, SLAs should be considered from a grass roots perspective.
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