Service Level and Availability Management

Service level agreements (SLAs) balance the users’ desired service level and expectations with the associated costs. Therefore, if you need to reduce costs, it is prudent and logical that you should revisit service levels for possible reductions. Review metrics to determine actual service level performance to see if you exceed agreed-upon service levels. If you reduce service while still meeting the service level, do so if it allows you to reduce costs. Keep in mind that IT can improve service either by increasing the average level of service or by reducing the variability in service delivery. Be sure to communicate and obtain agreement for any changes in planned service to the business.
In light of necessary cost reductions, revisit service levels with each area of the business. You may be able to reduce required service levels and scale back resources or contracts. Review service levels with business value to ensure the costs and benefits are in alignment and the users do not establish service levels on emotion. It is easy to say you need everything available all the time with immediate response until you put a price tag on the request. Whenever possible, determine the actual costs of the requested level of service and various options. If you change the service level provided to the business, be sure to go back to vendors’ underpinning contracts and get price reductions for changes in service levels. Consider reductions to all components of service levels including:
  • Service hours
  • Availability
  • Throughput
  • Support levels
    Top Tip: Match response rate to business need

    "Reduce services by matching the response rate to the business need. For example, review your response to network monitoring. If it is an empty office building, do, you need to dispatch someone at 8 p.m? Monitoring doesn't cost you, but your response does."
    —Lynn Willenbring
    City of Minneapolis

  • Responsiveness
  • Restrictions
  • Functionality
  • Contingency
  • Security
  • Data retention
  • Backup requirements
  • Problem escalation
  • Costs
Calculate and communicate potential cost savings if you were to reduce the availability or performance requirements. Review changes to anticipated user volumes to determine potential impact to service levels or potential cost reduction areas.
Complete a regular review of current infrastructure components against required availability requirements with a view to optimizing equipment and lowering costs. With advances in infrastructure technology, it is often possible to upgrade components to new technology and increase availability while actually decreasing costs.
Continue to review metrics, availability, performance, and actual service levels to be sure that you are meeting the business requirements in light of cost reductions, delaying hardware upgrades, or other reductions that you have taken.

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