What is a simple way to implement SLAs for a follow the sun service desk

By ITIL from Experience ©

The first element is to determine the level of service offered by a Service Desk that follows the sun1 . For example:

  1. Can users expect the same level of support around the clock –or- a reduced level of support when calling outside their local business hours

    Local business hours:
    the user’s typical work schedule when the business is active. For example, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time. Depending on the nature of the business such as the retail industry, the business hours could be from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

  2. Should Service Requests receive the same level of support as Incidents when the user calls outside of their local business hours?
  3. Will the support provided outside the user’s local business hours extend to both response

    Response Time:
    A measure of the time taken to complete an operation or transaction. Used in capacity management as a measure of IT infrastructure performance, and in incident management as a measure of the time taken to answer the phone, or to start diagnosis.
    Source: ITIL® glossary and abbreviations, English, 2011. www.itil-officialsite.com/InternationalActivities/TranslatedGlossaries.aspx

    and resolution

    (ITIL Service Operation) Action taken to repair the root cause of an incident or problem, or to implement a workaround.
    Source: ITIL® glossary and abbreviations, English, 2011. www.itil-officialsite.com/InternationalActivities/TranslatedGlossaries.aspx


The above simply looked at the service offering from the incident, service requests, response and resolutions times perspectives. The offering can also be looked at from a language perspective to ensure that each service desk location has the required capabilities and proper staffing level for each one offered. It is also important to confirm with the business that resolution work must be ongoing non-stop 24 hours a day. Doing so requires a process for staff to transfer the work-in-progress to the next service desk at the end of their business day.

The organizational structure may also be a challenge. For example, if each service desk reports to their respective geographic region (e.g. North America, Europe Middle East Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific), each with independent budgets, issues are likely to develop as one organizational unit may not have or be willing to spend the necessary funds to handle another service desk’s workload.

In face of this complexity, a simple strategy is to limit the service offering to only respond to users when they are calling outside their local business hours and to do so in the defacto corporate language. As such the available Service Desk answers the phone and attempts a first-call resolution. If an escalation

(ITIL Service Operation) An activity that obtains additional resources when these are needed to meet service level targets or customer expectations. Escalation may be needed within any IT service management process, but is most commonly associated with incident management, problem management and the management of customer complaints. There are two types of escalation: functional escalation and hierarchic escalation.
Source: ITIL® glossary and abbreviations, English, 2011 http://www.itil-officialsite.com/InternationalActivities/TranslatedGlossaries.aspx

is required, it is assigned to the user's local Service Desk or IT Team to address during their next business day, unless it is a major incident. Thus, outside the user's local business hours the service offered is on a best effort basis with no other commitment than providing immediate assistance for incidents at the first point of contact. The advantage of this strategy is that it provides immediate assistance to users while limiting the impact on other Service Desk’s workload.

In this scenario, the SLA clock can be based on the user's local business hours, say from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. When users call outside of these hours, the incident or service request is logged, but the SLA clock only runs during the user’s business day. Using this approach the local service desk has a full SLA to work with starting on their next business day. Of course, it is easier to manage if all Service Desks use the same ITSM Tool.

Regardless of the strategy used it must meet the business requirements. As such incidents from specific clients, service or systems may have a different SLA (e.g. 24x7x365). However, be careful not to over deliver by working on low priority service requests around the clock unless there is a specific Service Level Requirements2 and an explicit mandate to do so.


ITIL Process > Service Desk
ITIL Process > Service Level Management (SLM)

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