What is the Service Level Agreement (SLA)?

Service level agreements or "SLAs" are complex but useful mechanisms for controlling the risk of ongoing relationships with IT service providers. Unfortunately, most SLAs appear in service contracts as useless cosmetic supplements on paper. SLA backed services can be a very powerful tool that helps you and your service provider make the most of your connection. 

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in their most basic form are contractual obligations to achieve certain objectives. For example, when you sign up for a hosting contract with a provider, you might want an SLA that measures the duration of your website. 

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When you assign it to your help desk, you might want a Service level agreement that calculates the time to answer the phone it takes. SLAs usually include a penalty and/or reward framework. For example, many web hosting companies offer refunds based on the number of hours your website is not available. 

Instead, the SLA can include an additional bonus for your help desk provider if all calls are answered within 30 seconds. The following is a typical example of SLA:

"All help desk calls are answered in 90 seconds."

"The website will be available at 99.99%"

"95% of all invoices are printed and sent on time"

"Project X will be delivered within 2 weeks of the planned schedule."

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