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Standardised Service Level Agreements

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Subject area/Theme

User Engagement/Communication

Best Practice:

Formal Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in writing between data users and providers fulfil an important purpose, in that they require a commitment on both sides, and they enable the users to document the mutually agreed upon delivery. San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyer Nevertheless, SLAs should not result in a rigid framework of formal collaboration, but enable a stepwise approach of joint product development. They should generally allow for flexibility, and they should never be mistaken for a replacement of personal interaction. Ideally, SLAs would become standardised documents that can be applied to a multitude of projects.

Explain why is there a need for this Best Practice?

The legal frameworks provided by the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) of GMES* projects is generally articulated in a too rigid way. In several cases, this hampered continuous direct communication. In the worst cases, final data products were delivered solely based upon these documents  without direct interaction between providers and users.

Moreover, SLAs form a certain barrier for users to start a collaboration with providers. By signing them, users have to commit to a considerable amount of obligations without yet knowing that they will ever receive a useful product. SLAs nevertheless, fulfil an important purpose, in that they require a commitment on both the user and the provider side, and enable the users to document the mutually agreed upon delivery.

Provide an example application(s):

The above situation applies more or less to all GMES* projects.

How widely deployed is this practice(if applicable)

Communication in GMES* projects does not work sucessfully if it is solely based on SLAs the way they are currently written. However, in a range of GMES* projects, the providers made up for this shortcoming by applying a continuous personal interaction and developing products in an iterative way.

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Detailed Description of Best Practice

Ideally, SLAs stipulate the rights and duties for both service providers and users. On the one hand they specify issues like user input data needed by the service providers to calibrate and/or validate the products. On the other hand they (should) document user standards and requirements towards the services, the fulfilment of which is usually checked annually or upon service delivery. That is, SLAs should certainly not be abandoned, but they should enable a stepwise approach to joint product development, generally allow for more flexibility, and they should not be mistaken for a replacement of personal interaction.

Specifically, a good SLA should document issues such as the purpose or driver for the product, information on benefits, accuracy, costs (Cost Benefit Analysis) and data standards, and the like. Ideally, within GEO and/or GMES*, SLAs should become standardised documents. This would then require harmonized methods and breakdown of cost calculations, methods for accuracy assessment etc. and it would contribute to a homogeneous GEO/GMES* quality standard.

)* Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, the European contribution to GEO.


Editor's Comment:

It may be useful to attach one or more "good" sample Service Level Agreements, since it is being recommnded here that they should, ideally, become standardised documents within GEO and/or GMES.  Also, some clarification about what types of users and providers need SLAs would be useful.

-- H. K. Ramapriyan


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