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How to Establish Service Level Agreements

A service level agreement (SLA) is an excellent mechanism for managing expectations, enhancing communications, clarifying responsibilities, and providing an objective basis for assessing service effectiveness.

But Beware ...

Establishing an SLA is a complex undertaking that can create bigger problems than those it is trying to solve.

My SLA handbook, guides, FAQ page, and articles, which draw from 15+ years of SLA consulting and training internationally, focus on:

    check What a service level agreement realistically can and cannot accomplish
    check What makes a service level agreement work well
    check The key elements of an SLA and their functions
    check How to plan, develop, and manage an SLA
    check The types of wording to use (or avoid) in an SLA
    check How to avoid the pitfalls that cause so many SLAs to fail
    check What to look for in critiquing a service level agreement
    check What you must do to be successful in establishing your own SLA
I offer the following:
    Handbook: My 172-page handbook, How to Establish Service Level Agreements, will help you create and manage SLAs and avoid the flaws and failures so many organizations have experienced. (pdf format)

    3 Guides: Why SLAs Fail and How to Make Your Succeed describes key contributors to the failure of a service level agreement effort, and offers guidelines and recommendations for a successful outcome. How to Evaluate Your Service Level Agreements provides a comprehensive list of criteria for assessing and strengthening your SLA documents. An SLA Template and How to Use It provides an SLA template and detailed information on each of the elements in the template. (All are in pdf format.)

    SLA quick review: I can do a one-hour review of your draft or operational service level agreements, and provide feedback and recommendations by email. Contact me by if you'd like additional information.

    SLA FAQ page: This page lists questions that my service level agreement clients have asked.

    Articles: You're welcome to download and circulate my articles on establishing service level agreements.

    Newsletter: My newsletter, Perceptions & Realities, features articles on SLAs, as well as on managing expectations, communication skills, relationship building, teamwork, and related topics. You're welcome to print as many copies of each newsletter as you'd like.

    Related info: Are you satisfied with your ability to manage customer expectations and build trusting, supportive relationships? If not, perhaps these products will help.

Please contact me by for any additional information.


Karten Associates
Randolph, Mass., USA

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