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Do You Need to Make Your SLA a KPI?

Do You Need to Make Your SLA a KPI?

Achieving operational efficiency in your MSP help desk is unlikely without the appropriate set of key performance indicators. And while KPIs are typically concerned with your team, there is another set of indicators showing your customers how good you are at providing services. These indicators are described in your service level agreement. And here comes the question: Should your KPIs and your SLAs be the same set?

In this article, we will discuss whether or not you should make your SLA metrics your KPIs, explore the difficulties of that approach, and lastly provide advice on how to balance the service level agreement compliance rate.

Definition of SLA Compliance Rate

The service level agreement compliance rate is an indicator that shows you whether or not you meet your SLA obligations. It can be defined as the percentage of cases you've solved in accordance with the metrics set in your SLA. Such metrics might include average first response rate, repeat visits, and the average NPS score, to name just a few examples.

Why Do You Need to Track SLA Compliance?

The service level agreement compliance rate is a great instrument to up-level your MSP help desk operations. From the perspective of your business, you will be able to define the current performance of your help desk and see how well you do over time. Thus you will be able to see if you are doing better or worse over time and find the areas for improvement.

On the other hand, if you make your SLA compliance rate a customer-facing metric, you will be able to present the results of your work during quarterly assessments. If the rate is satisfactory, it will strengthen your business relationship. Feel free to ask for a referral in that case. If the rate is not satisfactory, it’s a great opportunity to define what’s wrong with your services and fix it before you are fired.

Not All KPIs Should Be Included in the SLA

The SLA is a document that your customer might use to sue you if they don't like your services. Thus, you should only include metrics that you are 100% in control of.

For example, you shouldn't include resolution times in your service level agreement, since a case might have hidden conditions that don't allow you to solve it in the specified time.

On the other hand, the average resolution time should be included in your internal set of KPIs, so you can understand how fast your help desk moves over a given period of time, and make necessary adjustments.

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SLA Compliance as a KPI: Challenges

  • SLA is less adjustable. As your metrics in the service level agreement are documented and signed by your customer, it's harder to adjust them. The main reason for that is simple: Your client does not want to sign more documents than they have already done. Also, they might be skeptical about the adjustments, thinking that you are about to lower the metrics and your level of support.
  • Outdated SLA. If the SLA was signed a long time ago, its key indicators could be a long way from what you've achieved over time. Thus, it cannot be used for real-life KPIs.
  • Doesn’t show the customer satisfaction level. While you may be on top of your SLAs, your clients might still be unhappy with your services. Check your NPS scores and determine whether the fact that you meet the service level agreement does actually correlate with your customers’ satisfaction.

How to Maintain a Higher SLA Compliance Rate

Lastly, here's a piece of advice on how to adjust your SLA compliance rate:

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  • Adjust metrics. First of all, you should adjust your metrics so they reflect the historical data with the given customer. Yes, we mentioned earlier that it might be problematic. But that does not make it less necessary.
  • Create several policies. As an IT professional, you know that different tickets have different priorities. Thus, you can define different SLA metrics on the basis of the urgency of the given case or the level of support you provide to the customer.
  • Categorize and escalate properly. Now, to keep your SLAs in the expected range, you should achieve a certain level of operational efficiency. That is not possible without thorough dispatch, triage, and escalation operations.
  • Check for closed but unresolved cases. At all costs, you should avoid your tech team closing unresolved cases just to meet the KPIs or SLAs. So, as we've already mentioned, you should not set the time of resolution as your customer-facing metric, but still monitor it carefully.


Smaller clients typically won't care about your average response times. Most of them probably won't even know why they need to sign a service level agreement. However, building your business around a set of key performance indicators is a necessary step if you are aiming for bigger customers. Also, it's the only way you can create an efficient help desk support system.

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