Improve IT-Business Alignment Through an Internal SLA

Understand business requirements, clarify current capabilities, and enable strategies to close service level gaps.


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Your Challenge

  • The business is rarely satisfied with IT service levels, yet there is no clear definition of what is acceptable.
  • Dissatisfaction with service levels is often based on perception. Your uptime might be four 9s, but the business only remembers the outages.
  • IT is left trying to hit a moving target with a limited budget and no agreement on where services levels need to improve.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Business leaders have service level expectations regardless of whether there is a formal agreement. The SLA process enables IT to manage those expectations.
  • Track current service levels and report them in plain language (e.g. hours and minutes of downtime, not “how many 9s” which then need to be translated) to gain a clearer mutual understanding of current versus desired service levels.
  • Use past incidents to provide context (how much that hour of downtime actually impacted the business) in addition to a business impact analysis to define appropriate target service levels based on actual business need. 

Impact and Result

Create an effective internal SLA by following a structured process to report current service levels and set realistic expectations with the business. This includes:

  • Defining the current achievable service level by establishing a metrics tracking and monitoring process.
  • Determining appropriate (not ideal) business needs.
  • Creating an SLA that clarifies expectations to reduce IT-business friction.


  • Chris Dehart, Director of Cloud Framework and Process, HCA
  • Gerry Kestenberg, Director IT Central Services & Store Support, LS travel retail North America
  • Sandeep Sidhu, Manager, IT Service Delivery, Capilano University
  • Penn Richmann, Applications Manager, City of Boulder 
  • Gail Koch, Support Manager, IT Service Management
  • One anonymous contributor

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Get to Action

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out why you should create an internal SLA, review Info-Tech’s methodology, and understand the four ways we can support you in completing this project.

  1. Scope the pilot project

    Establish the SLA pilot project and clearly document the problems and challenges that it will address.

  2. Establish current service levels

    Expedite the SLA process by thoroughly, carefully, and clearly defining the current achievable service levels.

  3. Identify target service levels and create the SLA

    Create a living document that aligns business needs with IT targets by discovering the impact of your current service level offerings through a conversation with business peers.

Guided Implementation icon Guided Implementation

This guided implementation is an eight call advisory process.

    Guided Implementation #1 - Scope the pilot project

  • Call #1: Identify the goals of an SLA for your organization.

  • Call #2: SLA category overview and identification of the relevant SLA pilot project(s).

  • Call #3: Create the project charter by establishing roles and responsibilities as well as project scope.

  • Guided Implementation #2 - Determine current service levels

  • Call #1: Review and document the current operational dependencies and maintenance procedures for applications/systems or services.

  • Call #2: Document each SLA metric and establish the parameters of a cost-effective system for metrics tracking and reporting.

  • Guided Implementation #3 - Set target service levels and create the SLA

  • Call #1: Analyze findings from IT and business discussions.

  • Call #2: Create a roadmap to improve current service levels.

  • Call #3: Create a business-facing SLA that reflects the needs of the business.

Onsite Workshop

Module 1: Scope the Pilot Project

The Purpose

  • Determine the scope of your SLA implementation.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Outline the SLA project scope and determine the relevant pilot project.

Activities: Outputs:
1.1 Identify the benefits of an SLA, perform discovery, and brainstorm project goals.
  • Defined service level pain points
  • Potential project shortlist
1.2 Analyze the ease of implementation and impact of potential projects.
  • SLA Maturity Scorecard
1.3 Complete the project charter and obtain sign-off.
  • SLA Project Charter

Module 2: Determine Current Service Levels

The Purpose

  • Determine the currently achievable service levels.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Develop metrics and tracking capabilities that indicate the current service level strengths and weaknesses.

Activities: Outputs:
2.1 Document operational processes.
  • Visual SOP documents
2.2 Identify SLA metrics.
  • Metrics Tracking Template

Module 3: Set Target Service Levels and Create the SLA

The Purpose

  • Identify target service levels and create the SLA.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Develop an internal SLA process that will effectively manage the IT-business relationship.

Activities: Outputs:
3.1 Identify current and target service levels with IT and the business.
  • Target service level metrics
3.2 Create a roadmap to get to target service levels.
  • SLA Project Roadmap
3.3 Create the business-facing SLA and establish a review process.
  • SLA Document
  • SLA Executive Presentation

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Onsite Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn’t enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our Project Workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a road map in place to complete your project successfully.

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