End users have expectations regarding services and support, and the quality thereof, provided by the supplier. They compare their expectations to the received service to assess the service quality (Coye, 2004). In order to ensure that the service supplied by the service provider meets the expectations of end users, a successful service level agreement (SLA) is required. Quality SLA’s clearly define, amongst many other elements, the commitments and responsibilities of the IT service provider and end users within the service delivery processes (Larson, 1998). One method of measuring the success of SLA’s is by using service metrics with regard to the availability, reliability, serviceability, response, and user satisfaction of the SLA (Larson, 1998). Therefore, the success of the SLA depends on a clear, common understanding of the services and service quality between the service provider and end users. Furthermore commitment, trust, and cooperation between all parties is necessary to achieve success with SLA’s (Hiles, 1994). However, in this paper it is argued that all these soft issues can only form a basis when sound relationships are established and maintained between the IT service provider and end users (Leonard, 2002). This paper aims to determine how the establishment of a sound IT-end user relationship can add value to the SLA for both the IT service provider and the end users, and increase the success of SLA’s.
Distinguishing Virtual Teams From Conventional Teams
Bell and Kozlowski (2002), quoting a widely cited earlier study by Townsend, DeMarie, and Hendrickson (1998) define virtual teams as:
Groups of geographically and/or organizationally dispersed co-workers that are assembled using a combination of telecommunications and information technologies to accomplish and organizational task.
Virtual teams can therefore be distinguished from conventional teams in two fundamental ways; their spatial proximity and the communications technologies employed.
When contrasting Townsend et al.’s (1998) definition of virtual teams with that of conventional teams (Humphrey, 2000), we see that the Humphrey definition offers a good general purpose view of what a team is:
A team consists of:
At least two people, who
Are working toward a common goal/objective/mission, where
Each person has been assigned specific roles or functions to perform, and where
Completion of the mission requires some form of dependency among group members.
Key Terms in this Chapter
IT/End-User Relationship: A relationship between IT and the end user consists of two dimensions, namely, a physical dimension and an abstract dimension. The physical dimension describes those elements that are necessary in order to enable contact between IT and its end users; whereas, the abstract dimension describes the soft issues of a relationship.
Soft Issues: Those elements that describes how a person behaves under specific circumstances. Examples of such soft issues are trust commitment, support, cooperation, and so forth.
SLA: Service level agreement.