My apologies in advance if I seem a little crabby/cranky/ornery this past week but I’ve been Yvonne’s backup, I’ve been sick and my darn sump pump stopped working just long enough to soak the carpet. (Wet carpet sure weighs a lot.) When our sump pump went we called up a plumber based on a friends recommendation. He showed up exactly when he told my wife he would. He advertised a service and lived up to that agreement. He essentially met his SLA (Service Level Agreement).
Regardless of what we might believe, we all have certain SLAs as part of our role in an organization, our role on a project, our role as husband/wife/companion, as a animal owner, as a coach, as a friend, as a consumer, as an eBay entrepreneur, etc. We have so many different SLAs that even if we tried we couldn’t identify them all. If the role you have in an organization is based on providing services to others, then you definitely have SLAs in place even though they may not be formal.
For instance, it is generally expected by the Development Teams that if they have a problem they send it to the "_EDC-Deployment Team" list and someone will take a look at it. While this is indeed the pattern that we have been asking people to adopt, we have not specified the response time for such a request.
Let’s assume that the request is five minutes work. Does this mean that you should expect to receive a reply in five minutes? What happens if the person who needs to do this has just gone to a meeting? What if they had to go to the washroom? OK, maybe you change your expectation. Maybe you change it to: receive a response from the Deployment Team in twenty minutes even if they haven’t actually done the work. What about lunch? Is someone from the Deployment Team supposed to be constantly checking email during lunch? What about a staff meeting? Is it going to be possible to have a staff meeting with the members of the Deployment Team if someone is constantly answering emails and responding to requests? Do we implement tiers of service whereby Production always gets responded to within minutes (5? 10?) and the other environments on a "when available"? But what if someone is doing some testing in UAT so that they can confirm that a hot fix for Production is working? If this is Production related does it fall under the Production response time or the other environment service level?
While my wife and I were thrilled that the plumber met his service level, I could envision dozens of legitimate reasons why he wouldn’t be able to do so. And yet, even though those reasons would be perfectly valid, we both know that I’d be cranky that he missed his appointment, because, after all, he affected me.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, everyone reading this not can probably tell his or her neighbour about the time the Deployment Team took x minutes to do y seconds worth of work. While I sympathize with you and promise that we’ll do better, please realize that there may be extenuating circumstances: we may be short staffed due to illnesses, we may be with another client helping them or something as mundane as no one has had a bite to eight in 10 hours and they’re hungry.