Service level agreements (SLAs) are kind of sneaky little things. They snuck into CRM 2013 under the hood of Entitlements and have grown in power ever since. In my opinion, entitlements are very very close to Contracts, if not a replacement to them, and they offer much better, clearer functionality. (Not saying Contracts they are completely pointless).  Entitlements are very driven by their associated SLA, which is then driven by it’s associated SLA items.

Think of Entitlements and SLA’s as a casual relationship. They don’t need eachother. An SLA can be used without an Entitlement, but the Entitlement gives them a lot more direction. Entitlements don’t need SLA’s to function and apply themselves to an Account, but SLA’s give them a lot more worth by defining a level of service to that Entitlement.

This is the first part in a series that will go into a lot more depth about configuring SLA’s and Entitlements. This first one wanted to drive right in and detail the new change in CRM 2015 about configring an SLA in ‘simple’ mode and ‘Enhanced’ mode so to start with i’ll briefly discuss what Entitlements and SLA’s are in CRM 2015 and a small description on their purpose.

An Entitlement is what a Customer is entitled to and have bought (or are entitled to as part of your awesome companies level of basic service). They are terms of an agreement set out by a customer who has bought either a certain number of time from you, or a certain number of cases (defined in the Entitlement Terms). They are associated to a Customer and have a start & end date. You then set how many are in the terms e.g. 100 Cases & how that figure descreases e.g. on Creation or on Resolution. An ongoing ‘Remaining Terms’ field is calculated automatically. You have the choice to restrict the association of this entitlement to cases based on those terms so Support staff can not allocate this to a Case if the remaining terms are 0.  You can then add Entitlement Channels if you want to restrict further e.g. set 20 of those to Phone, 20 of those to Web.  One of the awesome things you can do is then restrict based on Product so relate the Entitlement to the support of the specific Product(s) (leave blank to support all) & you cannot associate a Case with an Entitlement that does not relate to one of it’s Products. Finally, you can populate the Lookup ‘SLA’ with a specific SLA record.

An SLA is a ‘Service Level Agreement’ and enhances an Entitlement or can help you put a Standard level of service on all of your customers. (You can only have one active at once). It does this by setting targets for when you should be completing aspects of cases for clients e.g. a certain time period for sending a First Response (i.e. Thank you for contacting us, we will endeavor to get back to you within..) and setting ‘First Response Sent’ to ‘Yes’ and so it helps you to set yourself excellent levels of service to your customers.

You can set one SLA as default for all Cases irrespective of Customer by opening an SLA (active) and selecting ‘Set as Default’. You can only do this once and you cannot choose a default per customer. This is what I meant that Entitlements help give SLA’s direction – direction to where they are applicable.

Simple SLA’s

SLA’s have a type, either ‘Simple’ or ‘Enhanced’. Simple SLA’s are the original SLA’s which have had the ability to have the Timer functionality added to the Case form from CRM 2013 SP1. These are what can be referred to as ‘Standard’ SLA Types. When you open a new SLA Item, you’ll see the field ‘Related Case Field’ and as Out of the Box form layout goes, these fields are found on the form in a few places which I’ve screenshot below.

Related Case Field: First Response By; Follow up By, Last On Hold Time (need to add this on, not in form by default); Resolve By

The important thing to remember here is you have to add the Timer on the form manually,  you also cannot pause the Timer functionality when a case is On Hold & you cannot add Success action to your SLA Items. (You can only add Failure action)

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‘Related Case Field’ on the Simple SLA Item form

 

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Three of the fields related to the dropdown list in ‘Related Case Field’ on the SLA Item

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The fourth related Case field which is not on the form as default

 

 Enhanced SLA’s

If you select the option of ‘Enhanced’ in the SLA Type field when creating a SLA record, you can then check the option to ‘Allow Pause and Resume’ which will pause the time calculation of the SLA and not include it in it’s total rollup when a Case is ‘On Hold’.

When you open a new SLA Item record, you will see that things look a little bit different. You now have the field ‘SLA KPI’ and as standard only two options. This is no longer looking at those fields I have highlighted above, this is looking no longer at fields but an actual entity –  the SLA KPI Entity and the lookup fields in the Case form (That are not actually on the case form – (This is how new ones can be added, this will be covered in another post)).

These are now looking at the built in subgrid nearer the bottom of the Case entity – whilst confusing at first, this allows you to create multiple lines and keep track of them all at once. It embeds the  Timer functionality on your form as well by default, and also you can set Success actions for Enhanced SLA’s. (same as Failure actions but depend on your Success Criteria). If you then put a Case on Hold, it pauses the SLA. Resuming the Case then updates the related SLA KPI record.

If you create a Case that has an Entitlement, with an SLA (or just an SLA) which tracks a number of SLA KPI’s, e.g. the 2 default ones, upon creation it creates 2 SLA KPI type records and related them to your Case record.

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The ‘SLA KPI’ field on the Enhanced SLA Item form

 

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An empty Enhanced SLA Subgrid

 

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An Enhanced SLA Sub grid with active SLA KPI records related to it

 

I hope that helps demystify the difference between the two and what further enhancements 2015 brings to the picture, any questions feel free to post in the comments. More information on how to configure enhanced SLA’s will be coming soon.