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What is an SLA?

The term SLA stands for Service Level Agreement. Commonly these agreements form part of a service contract between a customer and their service provider. The agreement outlines a set of predefined targets that the service provider must meet in order to maintain the contract, it can be legally binding or simply an informal document between the two parties.

The SLA typically shows targets regarding what services will be provided and to what level of quality alongside information such as priority levels, guarantees and warranties. Each outlined area will document what is expected from the service provider, this can be in the form of average results, minimum targets or just certain rules that cannot be broken (depending on the level of formality). If for whatever targets are not met the SLA will describe the resulting consequence and how to proceed from then on, again this varies from customer to customer. 


To give a better indication as to what an SLA actually does we have put together some example targets which could be used in an SLA for an IT Support Desk. The following objectives could be set:

  • Average Speed to Answer (ASA): The average time (in seconds) it takes for a call to be answered by a member of staff on the support team.
  • Time Service Factor (TSF): The percentage of calls answered within a set time frame. e.g. 90% of calls answered within the first 30 seconds.
  • First Call Resolution (FCR): The percentage of calls that are dealt with without the need for a call back or follow on.
  • Turn Around Time (TAT): The time it takes to complete a set task.
  • Abandonment Rate (ABA): The percentage of calls that are abandoned whilst waiting to be answered.
Failure to meet these objectives may result in the customer receiving a month's free support from the help desk. If the targets are constantly not met the user may have the right to cancel any binding contract in place, obviously these outcomes are predefined within the SLA.



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