XLA and IT Experience Management explained

What is XLA and IT Experience Management?

The Experience Revolution is here

IT environments are becoming increasingly complicated. More often than not, entire ecosystems are jointly responsible for the delivery of IT products and services. This increasing complexity makes it more important than ever to focus on what really matters: the user experience.

Learn more about XLA and IT Experience Management

Founders of the Xperience Level Agreement (XLA)

Next to conducting groundbreaking research on IT-related experience, Giarte is the driving force behind a growing movement called Xperience Level Agreement, XLA, that is winning praise and buy-in from more and more companies.

What is XLA?

XLA is a powerful new addition to the traditional IT Service Level Agreement (SLA). One that builds on the SLA concept by measuring human sentiment and using this to break down silos and think and act from the perspective of a user. Giarte’s proprietary XLA methodology enables IT departments to design human-centric technology and processes.

SLAs measure deliverables

An SLA is a contract that sets out service requirements that purchaser and supplier think are realistic, workable and acceptable. The focus is on details, tangibles, processes and technology. Statistical output.

SLAs measure vertically. In IT terms, this means they measure IT silos like device availability, service desk support, the development and maintenance of applications, the availability of network services, server and mainframe services, and the availability of cross-function data sources. Each one individually.

XLAs measure impact

An XLA is a completely different beast. It’s a commitment to create a defined experience. This experience is measured with Xperience Indicators (XIs). Unlike an SLA, the focus of XLA is not on details, it’s on seeing the bigger picture in the same way as your end users. In IT terms, that means understanding the impact IT has on people and on business results.

It’s logical then that XLAs measure horizontally, across the IT silos, to ask how we’re doing on employee experience for example, and whether what we are doing matters to the business.

What are SLAs & XLAs?

Objective Monitoring

A contract with the necessary technical services, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as the measurements, and punishment’ as a starting point.”


Subjective Measurements

A commitment to realize a defined experience, with Xperience Indicators (XIs) as the measurements and reward’ as a starting point.”


The power of XLA 

An XLA never replaces an SLA, both have a key function. XLA is a powerful new addition to the traditional SLA. Here’s how your business can benefit from XLA

SLAs work from control, XLAs work from feelings
The challenge XLAs solve is that SLAs manage numbers while people run on feelings, emotions, and perceptions.

Overcoming limitations
XLA connects technical performance with customer perception around all interactions with IT.

Achieve the desired experience
Through Xperience Indicators (XIs), related to the experience themes, we can measure and manage to achieve the desired experience.

Focus on creating impact
From doing what's in the contract, to doing what really makes a difference to your customers.

The importance of IT Experience Management

We believe that Positive Business Impact comes from having Happy Employees who enjoy a great IT Experience. It includes higher profits, improved customer satisfaction, lower employee churn, lower recruitment costs, a higher net promoter score and so on.

We believe in this formula because research shows that how people feel about a product or service often outweighs what they know about it. Experience builds up over time and shapes our opinions, decisions and actions.

So, experience matters, but what is it?

Bottom line, an experience is the result of dozens or even hundreds of cumulative events and moments over time. Most of these moments never figure in an SLA because most are small or happen behind the scenes. But they do shape an experience. Fixing an incident may involve calling the service desk, determining the issue, attempting repairs, restore attempts, and notification that the issue is resolved.

Yet, most of the transactions happen out of the employee’s sight. Their experience of getting something fixed begins when they report it and ends when it’s working again, with few or no events in between. The IT process and SLA to get to a resolution are out of sight and out of mind. Even the timeframe may not matter. Sometimes five minutes is too long. Other times, a fix within five days could be fine.

Two Perspectives

There are actually two perspectives on the same problem. The IT perspective says “We hit all our SLAs, so the end user should be happy. Set that indicator to green.” The end user experience says, “I needed it fixed five days ago. No information. No progress reports along the way. I’m not happy at all.” Red frowny face.

This is where Experience Management comes into play, XLA connects technical performance with customer perception around all interactions with IT.

All our Experience Management Solutions

Learn the art and science of Experience Management and discover how we can help your business through opportunities and solutions listed below.

XLA and Experience Management Cases

More and more businesses are realizing the benefits of a flawless human experience in IT


ING is a global financial institution and the largest consumer bank in The Netherlands. As banks become more IT-centric, getting a grip on IT is essential for ING.


Simply to the max

Complexity is messing up simplicity. How can we unmess the bank? Tons of KPIs made it increasingly difficult to manage IT at ING. When ING needed to renew the managed services contract for unified communications, they wanted radical simplification. Giarte was tasked to design an entire new way of performance management.


Performance management and service levels

We redesigned performance management and service levels based on two guiding principles: user experience and project excellence. How employees experience the quality and the delivery of projects on expectations became the two leading experience indicators (XIs). Our first XI is the​‘happiness ratio’ of happy versus unhappy. The incentive is to improve the happiness ratio year over year. The second XI is​‘project excellence’ and it is based on the satisfaction of the project business owner. For scoring, we work with a rating scale and the result triggers either a reward or a service improvement plan.


Modifications to traditional SLAs

The subjective data on user experience was part of the dataset for improvement analytics. The new contract now includes modifications to the traditional SLAs. Ever since, the XI scorings have increased substantially


Heineken is one of the largest brewers by volume in the world. But implementing the global IT strategy proved to be one of their biggest challenges yet.


Consolidate a complex landscape

The global IT strategy emerged to consolidate the complex landscape of vendors, systems and processes. For the head office it all makes perfect sense to reduce IT spend. But the local operational companies (OpCo’s) need to focus on the needs of their employees. They all depend heavily on seamless IT operations. How could Heineken combine the freedom to operate within one framework? Based on the employee’s voice?

Heineken lacked a comprehensive feedback system to get to the bottom of the user experience. Giarte was asked to design the methodology, embed the experience indicators (XIs) in outsourcing governance, and implement the reporting dashboard. But how could we get all OpCo’s to buy into it?


Service process as guiding principle

The consolidation and outsourcing of IT is always a delicate move. We needed to keep a close eye on what was happening throughout the organization. So we made monthly scorecards for local IT stakeholders part of our reporting sequence. We also invited the two major service providers to become part of​‘Team UX’. After a set of bespoke XLA workshops, we all agreed that an upward trend is more important than the absolute target value. Determining the cause of dissatisfaction and improving the service process became the guiding principle for constant progression.


Heineken’s ServiceNow environment

The Giarte experience measuring solution was migrated to Heineken’s ServiceNow environment in 2019 and used globally. From the beginning the user experience was managed with a positive mindset. There was no drop in UX for the service desk and workplace services during and after the transformation.

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