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Essential SLA Elements #3 and #4: Monitoring, enforcement, and change mechanisms

A good service-level agreement looks simple — but that’s because it’s been conscientiously negotiated to meet the buyer’s needs. Of the five essential SLA elements that every managed and cloud services customer should focus on, I’ve described two — specifying service functionality and describing the infrastructure and standards to be maintained by the provider.

Essential SLA Elements #3 concerns SLA changes. Your SLA should include a mechanism by which you can regularly tune it in response to changing business conditions or new technologies. You’ll benefit from building in a formal review of your SLA (at least annually) in order to use experience and new information to revise it.

Essential SLA Elements #4 describes SLA monitoring and enforcement. You and your service provider need to work out what aspects of each service to measure, how to measure it (e.g., the service process itself, achievement of certain objectives, etc.), and how to monitor those metrics. You’ll want your provider to give you regular reports and access to service quality metrics so you can monitor service performance, availability, and security.

Your SLA should include an escalation process that enables quick resolution of issues and contains provisions under which your provider can be penalized for not meeting agreed-to service levels (and perhaps be rewarded when optimal levels are sustained). And make sure you can terminate services for failure to perform.

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