A service level agreement (SLA) is a part of a contract where the level of service is formally defined. The SLA records a common understanding about services, priorities, responsibilities, guarantees, and warranties. Each area should have the “level of service” defined. The SLA may specify the levels of availability, serviceability, performance, operation, or other attributes of the service, such as billing.
It is very common to append a Service Level Agreement to your contract with your Email Service Provider, may it be a hosted service or even an in-house solution.
Why a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
With a Service level agreement a client knows the level of services to expect in combination with the price of those services. This makes it possible to evaluate those services and compare them with other email service providers. In case of non-compliance with the SLA, improvements should be made. The supplier can be held to the agreement, in some cases with penalty. Service level agreements are also used as a starting point for cost control and quality improvements.
Target and Minimum
The service level can also be specified as “target” and “minimum,” which allows customers to be informed what to expect (the minimum), whilst providing a measurable (average) target value that shows the level of organization performance.
Elements of a Service Level Agreement
You might want to consider including the following often used elements in your SLA:
- Definition of services
- Reaction time & Availability
- Problem management
- Customer duties
- Disaster recovery
- Termination of agreement
- Cost control
- Monitoring, performance measurement and audit
Related terms: Uptime, deliverability, service desk, reliability.