3 important words: Service level agreement

If your computer doesn’t work, you don’t work.

With remote working soaring to an all-time high in 2020 and the beginning of 2021, digital connectivity became critical. The information technology (IT) department wasn’t a few doors away; it was miles or continents away. And the IT department, in many cases, wasn’t part of your organization, but was instead an independent vendor.

Companies are increasingly outsourcing their IT to reduce costs and streamline resources. According to Statista, the overall value of outsourced IT services will surpass $413.72 billion in 2021.

The IT service desk

IT service desks serve as hubs to direct incoming requests to appropriate resources to resolve issues. The most important measurements of success for the service desk are its speed and accuracy. Accuracy is defined as understanding the issue, redirecting the request, and solving the problem – hopefully the first time the request is made.

What is an acceptable rate for ticket resolutions? How long should it take? When a company makes the decision to outsource its IT services, these indicators should be clearly defined. The document of record is called the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

SLA parameters

The basic metrics, or key performance indicators (KPIs), used in an SLA for a service desk should include:

  • Average speed to answer
    The total wait time for all incoming calls over a duration of time, divided by the total number of calls, equals the average speed to answer. An efficient service desk keeps this number low through resourcing, appropriate scheduling, and other benchmarking techniques. The industry average for this metric is 70 seconds.
  • Call abandon rate
    For different reasons, not every incoming call is answered, and that can have far-reaching effects. A low abandon rate is a good indicator of the service desk’s responsiveness. The industry average for abandoned calls is 6-7%.
  • Resolution time
    The stopwatch at the service desk starts when an incident is “opened” and ticks until the incident is marked “resolved.” Incidents are classified according to their nature and their potential impact. A tiered classification system enables service desks to set target resolution times for each tier, as well as to monitor its performance in relation to these targets.
  • Resolution rate
    The resolution rate is the percentage of tickets resolved, within a given time frame. When considered in the framework of customer satisfaction, age of outstanding service tickets, and service desk costs, the resolution rate can also indicate the efficiency of the service desk.

Experts recommend every organization create an SLA with its IT service desk, whether the desk is in-house or outsourced. SLA expectations and accountability can also be used for goal setting and identifying areas for improvement.

At Hexagon IT Services, we use SLAs to plan resources and processes to serve our customers. Not only are they a way for our customers to grade our performance, but also for our teams to see how each minute of their time, when managed efficiently, rolls up to beat their SLAs.

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