Software Quality Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 43–57

Specification of Service Level Agreements: Problems, Principles and Practices

  • Jos J.M. Trienekens
  • Jacques J. Bouman
  • Mark van der Zwan


Software intensive systems (SIS) increasingly influence the ability of enterprises to be competitive in continuously changing market situations. The integration of these systems into organizations, and in particular the subsequent exploitation, maintenance and service activities, have become of utmost importance. Unfortunately the area of exploitation and operation, also known as service management, is still rather immature. Service management covers services such as performance and availability support, end-user and help desk support, education, and maintenance. One of the main concepts of service management is the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The goal of an SLA is to bridge the gap between service provider and users or customers. However, there exist many problems and unsolved questions regarding the specification and the quantification of SLAs. This paper addresses the specification of SLAs on the basis of three well-founded service management principles, respectively: 'continuity in service management,’ the pit/shell principle of a service, and the principle of specifying the quality of both a service process and a service object. Finally, the paper addresses the validation of these principles in practice.

service level agreements service object service process quality characteristics case study results 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Boehm, B.W. and Ross, R. 1989. Theory-W software project management principles and examples, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 15(7): 902-916.Google Scholar
  2. Bouman, J.J., Trienekens, J.J.M., and van der Zwan, M. 1999. Specification of service level agreements, clarifying concepts on the basis of practical research, Proceedings of the 9th International Workshop Software Technology and Engineering Practice, S. Tilley and J. Verner (eds.), IEEE Computing Society, Los Alamitos, pp. 103-111.Google Scholar
  3. Cross, G.A. 2000. Collective Form, an exploration of large-group writing, The Journal of Business Communication 37(1): 77-100.Google Scholar
  4. CCTA. 1987. Information Technology Infrastructure Library. London, HMSO Publications Centre.Google Scholar
  5. Herzwurm, G., Mellis, W., and Schockert, S. 2000. Joint Requirements Engineering Software Development. San Mateo, CA, Morgan Kaufman.Google Scholar
  6. ISO/IEC 9126-1. 2001. Software Engineering—Product Quality—Part 1: Quality Model, Scholar
  7. McBride, D. 1998. Succesfull deployment of IT Service Management in the distributed enterprise, Hewlett-PackardCompany, White paper, doug_mcbride@hp.comGoogle Scholar
  8. Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V., and Berry, L.L. 1986. SERVQUAL: A multiple item scale for measuring customer perceptions of Service Quality, Marketing Science Institute, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  9. Passmore, D. 1996. Setting performance expectations, Business Communications Review 26(12): 20-22.Google Scholar
  10. Renkema, Th.J. 1997. Investments in Information Technology Infrastructures. Kluwer Bedrijfsinformatie.Google Scholar
  11. Robertson, S. and Robertson, J. 1999. Mastering the Requirements Process. Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  12. Rodriguez-Dapena, P., Vardanega, T., Trienekens, J., Brombacher, A., and Gutierrez, J. 2001. Nonfunctional Requirements as a Driving Force of Software Development. Software Quality Professional.Google Scholar
  13. Ruijs, L., Niessink, F., and Trienekens, J.J.M. 2000. Towards Mature Service Management (in Dutch). Academic Service.Google Scholar
  14. Sasser, W., Earl, R., Olsen, P., and Wyckoff, D.D. 1978. Management of Services. Boston, MA, Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  15. Siegel, J. and Gopal, A. 2002. eServicesCapability Model (eSCM) v1.1, Carnegie Mellon University, Scholar
  16. Software Quality Institute at Griffith University, Australia, Scholar
  17. Solingen van, R. and Berghout, E. 1999. The Goal/Question/Metric Method, A Practical Guide for Quality Improvement of Software Development. New York, McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  18. Solingen van, R., Berghout, E., Kusters, R.J., and Trienekens, J.J.M. 2000. Learning in software process improvement, Journal for Information Systems Technology.Google Scholar
  19. Steinke, S. 1997. Taking charge of service levels, Network 12: 77-81.Google Scholar
  20. Trienekens, J.J.M. and Kusters, R.J. 1992. Customer orientation as a basis for computer supported technologies in software production, IFIP Transactions 8(2): 315-330.Google Scholar
  21. Trienekens, J.J.M. and van der Zwan, M. 1997. Service Level Specificatie, Automatiseringsgids (in Dutch), pp. 23-24.Google Scholar
  22. Trienekens, J.J.M. and van Veenendaal, E. 1997. Software Quality from a Business Perspective, Directions and Advanced Approaches. Kluwer Bedrijfsinformatie.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jos J.M. Trienekens
    • 1
  • Jacques J. Bouman
    • 2
  • Mark van der Zwan
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Technology Eindhoven and KEMA Quality B.V.The Netherlands
  2. 2.University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Improve Quality ServicesThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations