Help Desk Service Level Agreements (SLA) and Service Catalog

service catalog

The first step in creating a help desk Service Level Agreements (SLA) is to create a Service Catalog. At its most basic level, a service catalog is a list of all services your help desk will provide. It markets an authorized service portfolio or its subset and consists of one or more descriptions of current service offerings with and optionally, future service capabilities:

  • The subset of the service portfolio that is visible to customers. It consists of services presently active in the service operation phase and those approved to be readily offered to current and prospective customers.
  • A database or structured document with information about all provided IT services, including those available for deployment. The service catalog is the only part of the service portfolio published to customers and is used to support the sale and delivery of IT services.

Prerequisites for service catalog

There are a few common steps required to create a service catalog before defining the service levels. It is always easier when a well-established help desk system exists in the organization. If help desk issues and cases are already divided into meaningful categories and/or subcategories, the following step is to analyze reports on the categories that have the highest volume of cases in a given month. This will vary from organization to organization.

After the categories are listed from highest volume to lowest, the list should be reviewed in a way to define a single agreement for each category. If it doesn’t make sense, the category should be examined to find whether it is appropriate. You may need to look at more detailed information or redefine your categories to make them more or less detailed.

With the list of case categories that should have defined service levels, you are able to report on the actual performance against those service levels. For example, you may find that software installation takes one day to turn around, but creating new user logins takes three. You may find that deploying a new laptop or mobile device takes two weeks when you thought it was only taking a few days. The categories could also point to individual software maintenance topics if the service team is primarily oriented to the related services.

Defining Service Level Agreement

Now that the basic service catalog and a baseline of performance metrics are established, you are ready to begin the process of defining service-level agreements with your support teams.
In most cases, an SLA defines the response requirements of a team to which the help desk escalates cases.

The help desk may have internal goals for first-call resolution, improved average speed of answer, and so forth, but debugging software application issues often fall into a black hole when they are assigned outside of the help desk. It is these escalated cases as well as the issuing of new user logins, computers, and software packages, that will benefit the most from defined SLAs.

Implementing SLAs is outside the scope of this article because it is a complex process that requires working through management and people issues that may lie outside of conventional organizational boundaries.
Get started now on your service catalog, since it is your first step to achieving SLAs. It makes escalated support performance objective and helps put you in control of case management.