What is a Service Level Experience?

Anyone involved in IT knows what a service level agreement (SLA) is: a negotiated agreement between a group delivering services and the group receiving them, specifying the time period within which a service will be delivered or completed (among other details). A service level experience (SLE), however, is something different.

Frequently, SLAs tend to be (slowly) moving targets. Per ITIL, “Apart from regular periodic reviews, SLAs should be renegotiated whenever a business service is subject to a change of requirement or there is an inability to deliver to requirement.”

Track service level experience with ERMThe ITIL definition also makes clear that an SLA is a “formal, negotiated document.” It codifies the timeframe in which the service provider is confident it can deliver the service, and which is acceptable to the customer. It says nothing about how long the service actually takes to deliver,  or how quickly it could be delivered. SLAs are measured, but normally only in terms of compliance—the timeframe is being met (most of the time), or it’s not.

SLEs, on the other hand, are measured automatically in the context of enterprise request management (ERM). They reveal the actual time required to complete a given task, resolve a specific type of issue or fulfill a certain type of request. Their purpose is not compliance,  but rather continual improvement and process optimization.

Rather than being periodically reviewed, SLEs can be monitored constantly. If the SLE for a process suddenly increases (fulfillment takes longer than usual), it’s an indication that something has gone wrong; this could be anything from a training issue to approval delays to hardware or software problems. Constant monitoring of SLEs allows for problems to be quickly identified and investigated.

SLEs also support process improvement. What are the component tasks of a process, and how long does each take? Can any steps be eliminated? Simplified? Automated?

The workflow orchestration engine in an ERM system automatically captures completion times for each task. Enterprise survey software can also be used to capture qualitative metrics from service customers via automatically generated context-sensitive surveys.

The result is that the ERM approach to service delivery provides actionable information about fulfillment speed and quality. Going beyond just compliance with a negotiated standard,  this a customer-centric strategy for delighting those receiving the services.

To learn more, download the ERM Technology White Paper.

Have your say