ITIL® Training and Preparation: Service Level Management, Designing SLA Structures, and SLA Content

Service Level Management, Designing SLA Structures, and SLA Content


Last updated July 16, 2018


Service Level Management, or SLM, is defined as being “responsible for ensuring that all it service management processes, operational level agreements, and underpinning contracts, are appropriate for the agreed-upon service level targets. SLM monitors and reports on service levels, and holds regular customer reviews.”

In other words, the key criteria for any information to be contained within a Service Level Agreement (SLA) is that it must be measurable, with all language used being clear and concise in order to aid understanding.

Understanding SLM is one of the steps in getting an ITIL® certification. The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certification is a globally recognized IT service management certification, distributed by Axelos. The ITIL Foundation certification is an entry level qualification in field of IT service management.

Every professional who wants to develop their career in IT Service Management should consider an ITIL Foundation course. Once certified in ITIL Foundation, you will be able to guide a business organization in executing the best IT service management practices along with using IT as a tool for its growth or change.

In this article, we’ll discuss SLA structures and content.

How do you Design SLA Structures?

In Service Level Management, there are a number of ways in which you can structure your SLAs. To do that, here are a few important factors to consider:

• Will the SLA structure allow flexibility in the levels of service to be delivered for various customers?

• Will the SLA structure require much duplication of effort?

• Who are the stakeholders who will sign the SLAs?

ITIL focuses on three types of SLA structures: Service-based, Customer-based, and Multi-level or Hierarchical SLAs. Many different factors will need to be considered when deciding which SLA structure is most appropriate for an organization to use.Many different factors will need to be considered when deciding which SLA structure is most appropriate for an organization to use.

Typical Multi-level SLA Structure components include:

1. Corporate level: All generic issues pertaining to the organization are covered, which are the same for the entire organization.

For example, with security SLA at the organization level, every employee needs to create passwords of 8 characters and must change it every thirty days—or every employee needs to have an access card with photograph imprinted.

2. Customer level: Those issues specific to a customer can be dealt with.

For Example, Security requirements of one or more departments within the organization are higher. For example, the financial department needs higher security measures.

3. Service Level: All issues relevant to a specific service (in relation to the customer) can be covered.

For example, security requirements of one or more departments within the organization are higher. For example, the financial department needs higher security measures.

Using a multi-level structure for a large organization reduces the duplication of effort while still providing customization for customers and services. That is to say, corporate level SLAs apply to everybody and every department in that organization; customer level SLAs apply to the department, and so on.

Let’s use another example. Say we are a beverages provider, with tea, coffee, and juices in our service portfolio. If customer A wants tea to be provided every morning and evening, coffee before and after lunch, and juices during lunch hours, that’s the customer-specific SLA we have signed with Customer A and that’s how we price the offering.

And, if we also have a juice stand where we offer juice all the time but at fixed prices, where customers B and C can source their needs, this is a service-based SLA.

What is SLA Content?

So, what does a SLA document typically consist of? Aspects of the service including responsibilities, quality, and availability are agreed on between the service provider and service user. Therefore, you should make sure that you can deliver what you say you will deliver, when you say you will deliver it.

An SLA document typically consists of:SLA’s as a document typically consist of

  • An introduction to the SLA, what does this agreement propose
  • A Service description, what service this SLA supports and details of the service
  • Mutual responsibilities, who’s responsible for what part of the service
  • Scope of SLA
  • Applicable service hours, from what time till what time is the service available according to the agreement
  • Service availability, how much is the service available during the service window and outside of service window
  • Reliability
  • Customer support arrangements
  • Contact points and escalation; a communication matrix
  • Service performance
  • Security
  • Costs and charging method used


Understanding Service Level Management and Service Level Agreement structure give you an edge when helping your organization deliver on their promises. Gaining the ability to create and manage service solutions ensure that your organization and its customers communicate clearly to fulfill mutual needs.

Getting ITIL certified can help boost your career in IT. Ensure you are in top shape for the ITIL 2011 exam with Simplilearn’s ITIL 2011 Foundation certification training. Simplilearn also offers a variety of other ITIL training courses, including ITIL Expert programs.

Want a preview of Simplilearn’s online training? Watch this 20-minute video on ITIL Basics.

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About the Author

Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies. Based in San Francisco, California, and Bangalore, India, Simplilearn has helped more than 500,000 students, professionals and companies across 200 countries get trained, upskilled, and acquire certifications.

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