CompTIA Comes To The Rescue In The SLA Process

That's why the Computing Technology Industry Association last week released the "CompTIA SLA Development Guide," a 10-page manual for association members that addresses the requirements of solution providers delivering IT support services, hardware repairs and more.


CompTIA's Edward Migut says SLAs require a "melding of expectations."

The reference guide includes templates for creating customizable SLAs, a narrative on factors and issues to address in developing SLAs, and detailed information on commonly accepted metrics for measuring service performance. The association also released a companion guide called the "CompTIA Global SLA Navigator," which offers a compendium of widely accepted metrics and definitions used in SLAs.

"Service-level agreements can be an effective sales tool for solution providers and a source of cost savings and operational efficiencies for end-user customers," said Edward Migut, director of CompTIA's convergent technologies arm. "Constructing an effective agreement requires careful planning and a melding of expectations and understandings of both parties involved."

CompTIA laid the groundwork for the reference guides during the summer, when it organized a team of solution providers to establish industry standards for creating SLAs. CompTIA members who helped formulate the guides said they were excited to begin reaping the benefits.

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Mitch Hungerpiller, president of Mitchell-Wayne Technologies, a Birmingham, Ala.-based solution provider, said he recently spent nearly $15,000 in legal fees to develop an SLA and, therefore, was delighted to participate in a process to ensure he won't have to spend that much money again.

"Before now, my only choice with regard to SLAs was to turn to the pros," said Hungerpiller, whose company specializes in Novell systems integration and IP telephony. "Now it's nice to know there's an affordable and encouraging way to handle things myself."

Outside CompTIA, other solution providers also were upbeat about the prospect of a little SLA help.

Chris Maffei, president and CEO of San Francisco-based 10z Network, said a large-scale focus on improving SLAs would "take the mystery out of IT support," resulting in happier customers and more contracts for solution providers.

"A lot of solution providers are out there flying by the seat of their pants and not really clarifying anything with regard to service," Maffei said. "Any sort of industry effort to ensure a base level is a win-win for all of us."

CompTIA's Migut noted that materials in both SLA guides aren't intended to be incorporated into a formal SLA without a lawyer's approval. Both guides are available free to CompTIA members.