Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are agreements that managed service providers (MSPs) set with their customers. The idea is to deliver an overarching promise on how fast techs will respond to different types of requests.
What are SLAs, and why is it so important for IT business owners to meet them?
We surveyed 100 technology business owners this question, and we received a large range of responses. Here are just a couple from our research:
"A documentation of the services we will provide, what we will and won't do, and how we will work together."
"A contract with our client that states scope of work, duration, expectations, price, and what to do if either party breaks the agreement."
A Deep Dive on Service Level Agreements
The Service Level Agreement (SLA) feature of ConnectWise Manage enables you to track service delivery expectations that you have set with your clients. SLAs can help you prioritize tickets so you can ensure that you meet your contractual obligations. Generally, companies will have different SLA goals depending on the priority level of the ticket. SLAs help to classify these types of issues so they can be resolved in a timely manner.
For example, if a client calls in and their server is down, the situation would be deemed critical and considered a top priority. Conversely, if someone calls in because they’re getting an annoying pop-up on their computer once a week, the situation- while irritating - can wait to be resolved.
There are three SLA levels that can be measured in Manage. These levels are:
- Resolution Plan
Service Level Agreements may include other metrics, such as system uptime and service availability.
SLA calculations are driven by service ticket status. Each service ticket status has an Escalation Status associated with it. There are five Escalation Statuses:
- We have NOT responded,
- We have responded,
- We have created a resolution plan,
- We have resolved the issue
- We are waiting (do not escalate.).
All New tickets should be set to the Escalation Status: We have not responded.
From the time a ticket is set to a we have not responded status to the time it is first moved to a we have responded status.
Example: Ticket was created in a New (we have not responded) status. After 10 minutes, it was updated to a Triaged (we have responded) status.
Responded_Minutes = 10 minutes
From the time a ticket is set to a we have not responded status to the time it is first moved to a we have created a plan status.
Example: Ticket was moved to an In Progress (we have created a plan) status after sitting in a Triaged (we have responded) status for 20 minutes. The ticket was previously in a New (we have not responded) status for 10 minutes.
Time to ResPlan (Responded_Minutes + ResPlan_Minutes) = 30 minutes
From the time a ticket is set to a we have not responded status to the time it is set to a we have resolved the issue status.
Example: Ticket was set to a Closed (we have resolved the issue) status after sitting in an In Progress (we have created a plan) status for 15 minutes. The ticket remained in a Triaged (we have responded) status for 20 minutes and a New (we have NOT responded) status for 10 minutes beforehand.
Time to Resolve (Responded_Minutes + ResPlan_Minutes + Resolved_Minutes) = 45 minutes
The Escalation Start Date, which is the date used to determine when the SLA timers will begin ticking, can change over the life of the ticket. If you take a ticket out of a waiting status, the Escalation Start Date is updated to the latest:
- Scheduled Due Date
- Date Entered
- Schedule End Date
The Escalation Start Date, therefore, allows you to both create and schedule tickets in advance without jeopardizing your SLA goals. The latest of the three will be used to determine the Escalation Start Date and the SLA timer will not start ticking again until this date.
How can msps stay on top of their slas?
Nowadays, a lot of companies don’t even have contracted SLAs with their clients. That said, it’s still a good idea to set internal goals so you can hold your team accountable.
This is where ConnectWise comes in. Using our Service Board Best Practices Guide—you can track three measurements:
1. Time to respond
This is how long it takes the dispatcher to triage a ticket, or how long it takes tickets to be assigned.
2. Time to plan
At this stage, the ticket has been assigned and is currently in progress.
3. Time to resolve
This involves the amount of time it takes to resolve the ticket (which, again, may vary based on the ticket’s priority level).
No matter the ticket’s designated priority level, MSPs should work toward the same goal: the goal of meeting 100% of their SLAs, by getting every single ticket promptly assigned to someone for resolution.
By properly configuring the escalation status of your service board statuses and configuring an SLA to measure the Response, Resolution Plan and Resolution times on service tickets, you can ensure that you meet the requirements guaranteed in the contracts with your clients. Manage also allows you to report on SLA times and provide notifications when specific SLA conditions exist.
Ensure Your Tickets Meet SLA with Workflow Rules
Concerned your ticket is going to breach SLA? Think about setting up workflow rules.
For example, if a ticket is pending breach within 15 minutes, you can ensure your team gets eyes on the problem fast.
You can also view analytics and reports showcasing how well you’re meeting your SLAs. Take note of any trends that may appear, and jot down turnaround times that can help guide future parameters. You can even see how long you’re taking to respond to each client’s ticket on average, and leverage that information to dive deeper into the audit trail.
- Breaching Response Next 60min - This is a count of open tickets where they are within 60min of breaching the respond within goal. This should be reviewed on a daily basis.
- Breaching ResPlan Next 60min - This is a count of open tickets where they are within 60min of breaching the resolution plan within goal. This should be reviewed on a daily basis.
- Breaching Resolution Next 60min - This is a count of open tickets where they are within 60min of breaching the resolve within goal. This should be reviewed on a daily basis.
- # of SLA Breaches - Count the number of activities with the type SLA Breach. This should be reviewed on a weekly basis.
- SLA Statistics by Urgency - Report to review which tickets met or did not meet sla and overall goals percentage. This should be reviewed on a monthly basis.
You may want to take a closer look at your SLA dashboard in ConnectWise. The dashboard works to help MSPs meet 100% of their service level agreements; all by highlighting specific items that need to be addressed.
• Tickets pending response, resolution plan, or actual resolution
• Open tickets
• Tickets that are on the verge of breaching SLA
• Tickets that have already breached SLA
Everyone should be checking their own dashboard, of course. But more importantly, every board needs an owner.
Taking these extra steps can go a long way in helping you meet your SLAs, identify pain-points, and create potential solutions. Developing workflow rules, visiting your dashboard regularly, and ensuring all tickets are assigned within a day or two are solid places to start.
By properly configuring the escalation status of your service board statuses and configuring an SLA to measure the Response, Resolution Plan and Resolution times on service tickets, you can ensure that you meet the requirements guaranteed in the contracts with your clients.
Aim to take things slowly if you’re just getting started with the above best practices, but be consistent—and the results will likely follow!
Want more guidance on setting up SLAs? Contact us below: