Service level agreements, or SLAs, are the cornerstone of service-oriented businesses—whether they deliver services to individuals or to other companies. A core part of managing SLAs is the tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor compliance with SLAs and identify opportunities for improvement. This task is often referred to as service level management.

What is service level management? How can tracking KPIs improve your service level management? Which KPIs should you use for monitoring service level agreements?

What is service level management?

Service level management is the practice of monitoring and controlling key performance indicators related to the organization’s SLAs. This is usually done with an eye towards improving quality of service and customer satisfaction.

Being able to consistently meet service level agreements and deliver results is a must for building a strong industry reputation and keeping clients. By keeping track of key performance indicators for service level management, organizations can monitor their success at meeting their SLA targets and investigate any shortcomings.

Which KPIs should you track for service level management?

There are many key performance indicators for service level management that you could track. Some examples of SLA KPIs that you may want to track include:

1: SLA success and failure rates

How often does your organization meet or fail to deliver services within the bounds of its SLAs? Naturally, this can be hard to track, considering how different individual SLAs can be from one organization to the next.

For example, an SLA could be “99% Uptime year-round” for a cloud computing service, while a cybersecurity company might have SLAs like “identify and resolve security breaches within two hours.”

If your number of breached SLAs is high, that might indicate that your SLAs are too strict, or that a critical tool or resource is missing. This could be a good opportunity to revisit your SLAs and processes and reevaluate them to improve service delivery.

2: SLA cost metrics

In any business management strategy, analyzing costs against profits is a basic necessity. Setting up performance metrics that track the cost of meeting SLA targets can be crucial for monitoring the sustainability of a service level agreement.

If costs are running high, it may be necessary to revisit either the SLA itself or the means used to meet it. For example, if you have an SLA of “resolving security breaches within two hours” as a managed security service provider (MSSP) and were maintaining the SLA by having on-duty staff monitoring the client network at all hours, odds are your costs would be high. Here, applying an automated threat detection solution or even an intrusion prevention system would reduce the need to dedicate labor to the task and reduce costs.

By tracking cost metrics for your SLAs, you can more effectively manage your budget and make adjustments to improve the long-term viability of your services.

3: Time to response

Many SLAs are time-sensitive, promising certain actions or outcomes within a given period of time. Because of this, one critical performance metric to monitor is the time it takes to respond to an incident. The shorter the wait between event and action, the better.

If you notice that your time to response is too long, it may be a good idea to take a look at your notification processes and workflows for delivering services. This helps you improve your service level management by identifying ways to optimize response times.

Using KPIs to improve service level management

The examples listed above are just a few potential KPIs that you could use to improve your service level management. When selecting performance metrics for your service level agreements, consider:

  • How closely the KPI reflects the intent of the SLA;
  • How the information the KPI provides could be used to improve the SLA;
  • Whether you need multiple KPIs to thoroughly assess SLA performance; and
  • Whether you or your employees can control the performance metric for the SLA.

Ideally, the metrics you choose should have a strong correlation to the SLA, be useful for tweaking how you approach service delivery, and be something you can improve.

Need help to improve your KPI tracking so you can use your performance metrics to optimize your service level management? Reach out to the BrightGauge team to learn more!

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