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The Dark Side of Help Desk SLAs

 by: Hallett German

You just signed a Help Desk Service Level Agreement (SLA) and now think things will get easier. However, you may soon be falling into one of these traps:


In some companies, those under the radar of SLA compliance may resort to doing the minimum instead of really solving the problem. This includes closing or reassigning customer tickets just to meet the ticket queue deadline. While a review of SLA monthly metrics may look like the help desk is meeting or exceeding metrics, in reality the quality of support had started a downward death spiral.


When creating the SLA, the customer/management may ask for services and reports because "they are nice to have" and they perceive them as free. However, once the SLA is in force, the help desk staff discover that the customer/management rarely read the reports or utilize these services. But the staff is forced to keep doing them because they are in the SLA.


Changes in current products, organizations, management, vendors, and users may require currently unsupported services to receive some level of support. Helpdesk staff are now faced trying to make both the SLA and non-SLA users happy. But picking the wrong choice may mean that you may be trading a happy today for a thousand unhappy tomorrows.

In conclusion, take the time to create a realistic SLA that both and your management/customer can live with -- today and tomorrow. Schedule monthly reviews to see if the real needs are being met.

Periodically sanity check the SLA and see which activities/reports should be dropped and which should in the short-term and mid-term. Good luck in your efforts!

About The Author

Copyright Alessea Consulting 2004

Hallett German ( is President of Alessea Consulting. is president of Alessea Consulting specializing in Identity Management, Project Management, and Business Development


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