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SLAs are adequate and well-aligned


The efforts by CIOs to develop business-aligned SLAs that demonstrate the value of the service being paid for are beginning to bear fruit.

That's according to Dimension Data's research which involved interviews with 370 CIOs from 14 countries across five continents. The survey revealed that the majority of organisations are satisfied with the coverage and level of alignment of their SLAs.
When asked how well their existing SLAs are aligned to business processes, over a third of respondents (37%) reported that they are entirely satisfied with the level of alignment and the coverage provided by their SLAs.
A further 33% reported that they were comfortable that their SLAs are defined around relevant metrics, although they still experienced some challenges around coverage. All in all the results are encouraging, and support the notion that the IT organisation is on track towards crafting SLAs that hit the mark and meet the needs of their business stakeholders.
While the survey revealed that the reputation of the SLA is on the road to recovery, the results also show that small to mid-size organisations are getting it right more quickly, and are outpacing their larger counterparts in terms of their progress in aligning SLAs to business needs and ensuring that the right metrics are in place.  This supports the thesis that the size of an organisation is one of the primary considerations to bear in mind when embarking on a programme of revisiting the approach to SLA design and selection.
"When it comes to the SLA definition process, proper planning and communication between the business and IT are key success factors," says Brent Flint, GM: services at Dimension Data Middle East & Africa. "The results of the survey paint a clear picture that organisations are successfully integrating the needs of their business units into the SLA definition process. Almost a third of organisations identified their relevant business unit representatives as the primary stakeholders when embarking on the process of defining their SLAs."
Flint adds: "The importance of getting complete buy-in from business unit stakeholders is paramount.  Lack of communication between IT and business units when establishing service-level measures and performance requirements for outsourcing will only hamper the organisation's efforts to define meaningful business value. Too many organisations will make flawed associations between business outcomes and IT performance."
The results of the Dimension Data survey also revealed that a significant percentage of organisations surveyed reported that they work closely with their Service Providers to determine SLA metrics (26%). This is an encouraging statistic, because the contracts governing outsourcing engagements should be flexible to meet changing business needs. A collaborative approach to SLA development between client and Service Provider can go a long way to achieving SLAs that are just that.  
"All SLAs aren't created equal – nor should they be.  Dimension Data's experience with clients across the globe has shown us that a simple, standard, one size fits all approach to SLA development is not appropriate," says Flint.