Last edited 08 Feb 2017

Service level specification SLS

A service level specification (SLS) forms part of a service level agreement (SLA), in which the standards required of a service provider are set out.

SLAs can be prepared by an organisation when they require services from an in-house team or department, or they may be used for the outsourcing of services, such as facilities management services, for example; property management, inspection and repair services, planned and responsive maintenance, cleaning, portering, security, ICT services and so on.

The SLS quantifies the minimum acceptable (technical) standard of service that is required. Performance measurement in terms of the standards laid out in the SLS can be considered in terms of critical success factors and key performance indicators. For example, the SLS in a cleaning contract could describe the maximum amount of dust or debris which is permitted to remain following cleaning, as part of the overall standard of cleaning to be achieved.

The SLS should set out:

  • Internal standards relating to policy.
  • External standards including; statutory requirements, industry an international standards, manufacturers’ recommendations and so on.
  • The required technical standards and the procedures that must be complied with.
  • Quality and performance targets.

The level of detail included in the SLS will depend on the service required and its complexity, however, its contents might include:

  • Definition of terms.
  • Legal/regulatory requirements.
  • Manufacturers' recommendations.
  • Industry accepted best practice.
  • Corporate/departmental requirements.
  • Established standards/codes.
  • Procedures for each area, item and service.
  • Frequency of procedures for each area, item and service.

If organisations are defining and specifying their requirements for the first time, there can be a risk that they incur higher costs as a result of over-specifying the service (compared with wha was in place previously). Value management can help safeguard against this by ensuring that only services that are genuinely of value are specified.

SLSs should not be regarded as fixed but are capable of being continuously improved as circumstances and requirements change and experience allows changes in specification to yield better results and improved value. Clear and open communication with the service provider is essential to optimise this process.

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