SLAs undermine business alignment
With the exception of outsourcers, IT departments are not a distinct business inside the business, and they should not behave like one. We are all on the same team, so we should be working in a spirit of trust and collaboration. SLAs introduce an adversarial formal negotiated relationship which is inappropriate when two units of the same organisation interact.
It is bad enough that SLAs reduce flexibility by requiring renegotiation to amend them. Far more damaging is the message they send of distrust. While they help business alignment by defining delivery in terms of business requirements, at the same time they damage business alignment by polarising the relationship into one of "us and them", spearated by a written contract.
This idea came from the person who started this whole ITIL skeptic train of thought for me [it's your FAULT Alan]. It is not my position. I think he has a point, but he was working at an organisation then that had that kind of culture. I can see the realities are that
- formalising the relationship can clarify things and aid communication
- relationships in many organisations, especially larger ones, are so broken that contracts are required to prevent endless bickering
Bears thinking about though, doesn't it? Do SLAs do damage as well as good? Are SLAs culturally inapproproate in some organisations?