Monitoring agreements is at the heart of every management task.
The agreements on the use of systems are regulated in service level agreements (SLAs). Every large company has a large number of SLAs for the services that are used in the company.
These SLAs set out the service quality of the business services as part of contracts, in separate contract documents, tables or technical specifications. The aim is always to ensure the smooth and productive use of all business services for a sufficient number of users - at the lowest possible cost. Specifications for availability, response speed, support and more must be defined in such a way that productivity losses due to operational problems are avoided as far as possible, even in the face of cost pressure
All too often, however, management in companies that use many services lack an overview of the existing SLAs and their degree of fulfilment. The individual specifications and their interpretation are forgotten. Is money being spent unnecessarily on software that is never used by the agreed number of users? Do users suffer from software failures because the availability was agreed too low or because the operator does not provide the agreed quality? Does the 99.5% availability of a SaaS offering refer to pings to the IP address or consistently functioning software?
These and many more questions need to be clarified and implemented in a monitoring solution in order to recognise service quality deficiencies and potential savings in business services. Despite existing guidelines, IT management / IT-service-management in particular otherwise lacks an overview when it comes to cost savings, waves of complaints, procurement of new systems or renegotiation of contracts. Decision-makers lack a reliable basis for decision-making. Users are often misused for monitoring during ongoing operations, but by their very nature they are unable to provide an objective or holistic overview of the quality of a business service - let alone an entire landscape of services.
The result of a lack of transparency is hardly justifiable and sometimes wrong decisions by those responsible, unnecessary expenditure for services that are no longer used or paid for too expensively and dissatisfaction among users.
The foundations for sound and continuous monitoring of services already exist within the company. Consistent consumer-side monitoring can realise the dormant potential of SLAs to get a grip on the quality and costs of services:
The main challenges here are to summarise the scattered SLAs and other specifications, prepare heterogeneous SLAs in a standardised manner, derive accurate metrics and present the results in a concise manner.
Monitoring is not traditionally aimed at the technical infrastructure or business intelligence, but draws decision-relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) for management from the SLA-compliant monitoring of business services.
Measurement can raise awareness of the quality of services among providers, users and managers. This increased quality awareness alone can improve the quality of the service. Problems can also be precisely identified through clean measurement and concise processing. Services that do not fulfil the required quality of service can be replaced or purchased at a higher quality level.
Switching off superfluous business services by recognising the "orphaned representatives" drastically reduces the costs of a service landscape. The precise identification of weak and unused systems enables a targeted approach when cost-saving targets need to be implemented. Necessary but overpriced services can be repeatedly replaced with cheaper ones by continuously analysing the cost-performance ratio. Further cost reductions are achieved by reducing excessively high and expensive service level agreements in SLAs for existing services.
Transparency in the services and the associated quality of service creates user confidence in the services and their providers. Early detection of errors, systematic management of the quality of service and well-founded and emphatic feedback to providers underpin acceptance even after the introduction. Views for specific user groups are also possible with SLA monitoring and can convince sceptics in a targeted manner.
A holistic view of the quality of services provides a sound basis for negotiation and decision-making when contracts and SLAs are renegotiated or new systems are purchased. Decision-makers can refer to the SLA-compliant, consistently measured quality and present it in a comprehensible manner.
Systematic SLA monitoring makes SLA violations that result in contractual penalties immediately visible. The monitoring data provides a comprehensible justification for the contractual penalties. Contractual penalties are thus systematically identified and can be confidently enforced or used as arguments in dialogue with the provider
In view of the company-specific conditions, very different benefit expectations can take centre stage.
The individual assessment of the following objectives and the status quo can support the decision-making process:
Our process model comprises five phases for the introduction of SLA monitoring for services. They are shown in the following diagram and described below.
- KPIs, IT governance, SLA-M specific
- Service catalog & services
- SLAs, contracts, specifications
- Define metrics
- Set up monitoring
The first phase involves compiling the existing basis in the company. This involves collecting the key KPIs and specifications from IT governance, all services to be monitored and the associated SLAs. Gaps in SLAs can be closed in this phase.
The information collected is processed in the second phase. Suitable metrics and associated key figure systems are created. Their graphical presentation can be designed and recorded in dashboard mock-ups.
In phase three, the measurement required for the metrics is set up at various points. The possibility of accessing existing monitoring data should always be taken into account here.
The fourth phase involves setting up the software that aggregates and stores the measured values and calculates the metrics.
In the fifth phase, the metrics calculation is presented in live dashboards and reports. Notifications for acute SLA violations can also be set up here.
Phases one and two are purely conceptual phases. In phases three to five, a coherent software solution for monitoring is set up step by step.
SLA monitoring services are implemented in four areas, which are shown in the following diagram.
In the lowest area of the illustration, EcholoN Process Server, measured values are recorded and posted to the services. Here, EcholoN monitors all parameters stored in the services by default.
The Warehouse area collects the measured values over time and across the various services. Agents and data sources from third-party providers can be integrated without restriction, e.g. via the EcholoN Data Workflow System.
Metrics are calculated on the basis of the data collected in the warehouse. A large amount of raw data is turned into concise KPIs.
In the EcholoN dashboards / cockpits, the generated information is displayed according to related SLA clusters. The web interface shows these live and in a history. Reports can be generated and notifications for SLA violations can be set up.
Service Level Agreements are contractual agreements between service providers and their customers to define and guarantee the service level as well as the availability and quality of the services provided. SLAs contain metrics that measure and monitor service quality.
The monitoring of SLAs for business services includes the monitoring and reporting of the agreed service levels between service providers and their customers. It serves to automate the agreed services and ensure that the defined key figures are met.
SLA monitoring is an essential component of service level management. It helps to monitor and report contractual obligations in detail to ensure that the agreed service levels between both parties are reliably met.
SLA monitoring is important to ensure service quality and reduce downtime. Through monitoring, companies can ensure that the agreed service level agreements are adhered to and that customers are satisfied. By monitoring and reporting service level metrics, companies can identify and resolve potential issues early before they impact business services.
In addition, SLA monitoring enables companies to utilize their IT resources more efficiently and identify bottlenecks to improve service quality. This can lead to higher productivity, lower operating costs and better customer satisfaction. Overall, SLA monitoring therefore makes a significant contribution to maintaining business services at a high level of quality and strengthening the company's competitiveness.
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Blog article: Service Level Management