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A Lesson Hard Learned: Hiding Behind a Service Level Agreement

Following an IT outage, Greg Sanker faced dire consequences, and needed to own up to the mistake while appeasing the customers affected by it. In a post for ITSM Transition, he explains how uttering the ugly phrase “well, within the SLA…” blew up in his face and only infuriated those affected by the brief outage further.

(Some) Quality Guaranteed

Experiencing an outage is frustrating and can be detrimental in maintaining value with customers, but what is more important is how it is dealt with. Following several meetings in regards to addressing this problem, when Sanker poorly attempted to defend IT, he only illustrated how out of touch he truly was. He hid behind the service level agreement (SLA) rather than taking responsibility for the outage himself.

SLAs are cold statements that do not paint a vivid picture; they utilize the statistical math in defense. The outage was at a time in which it was vital that the system be up and running, hence the big uproar over the lost time. Hiding behind the SLA does nothing in this case, because it does not elaborate on these big picture scenarios.

Part of the problem is in the name “IT” itself, says Sanker, since “information technology” is pretty obtuse and does not really hint at what to do with the information. In Sanker’s situation, a world-class manufacturing application could not recover gracefully from a minor outage, one that was so insignificant it did not even show up on the network monitoring. Despite being a “minor glitch,” this happening caused a major problem.

Those working in IT may find it beneficial to step outside their tech bubble periodically to see whether the customer’s needs and wants are being met. Providing a quality service is great, but what you will be remembered for is following through when you absolutely positively have to.

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About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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