Archive for the ‘SLA’ Category

Introduction To Measures

February 19, 2008

In this post, Joel Spolsky speaks of the value of measures and in the value of transparency when dealing with customers. He talks about the concept of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and how they really are useless when work is approached from a mindset of continuous improvement. SLAs make us feel better because we can say that we had the goal of 99.99% uptime this month and we achieved that measurement. It would be easy to pat ourselves on the back and move on. I am interested, though, in what happened to cause us to not reach 100% and to ascertain if there is something that we could have done better. Is there something that we should have seen coming? Do we need another layer of redundancy? Did we see the outage coming and if so, were we able to notify customers in a timely manner? If we live only by measures, we never achieve a continuous improvement mindset.

Whenever something, anything, doesn’t have the outcome that we expected, we drill down and ask “Why?” 5 times. This allows us to continuously improve our business and our operations by ultimately allowing us to get to the root cause of the issue and put in a place a countermeasure that will prevent the issue from occurring again. We then add that measure to our list of items that we monitor on a monthly or weekly basis to ensure that we are moving in the right direction.

Unplanned, unexpected outages at Hinutech are abnormal events — black swans. We have built our infrastructure to ensure that we achieve the highest level of uptime possible with our budgetary constraints. As always, there are things that we can and should do better, and we will deal with them as needed while continuously improving our operations.

This is the first post of several as I seek to add clarity to the measurement process. In the next post, I will highlight some of Hinutech’s key measures and work through how we are improving on them daily.