JIRA Service Desk provides powerful built-in SLA management so you can track how well your team adhere to the agreements you have with your customers. 

JIRA Service Desk comes with a few pre-configured SLA metrics to cover some of the most common IT requirements; however you can modify them or create custom SLA metrics to reflect the SLAs you use in your business.

On this page:

For information about the permissions needed to see and administer SLAs, see How JIRA and JIRA Service Desk Work Together.

JIRA Service Desk also provides robust reporting tools that you can use to track your team's performance against your SLAs. Check out this page for tips on tracking your SLAs.

A look at how an SLA is constructed

SLAs are managed in the SLA tab in your service desk project. Select New Metric or an existing SLA to manage your project's time metrics:

An SLA is made up of two settings: time measurement and goals for issues. Together, these criteria make up an SLA:


You can't change the name of an SLA after you've saved it, so make sure that the name you choose will support the SLA metric and any additional things you might need to measure in the future.

Setting up the SLA time metric

You can think of the time metric as a stopwatch that tracks time between two points in an issue's life-cycle. JIRA Service Desk lets you control exactly when time is tracked, letting you start, stop, and pause the counting based on the status of an issue or when the issue changes (for example, a comment is added). For example:

  • In an SLA that guarantees issues will be resolved in a certain amount of time, the time might start counting when the issue is created and stop counting time when the issue is resolved.
  • In an SLA that guarantees a certain turnaround in response times between support and the customer, the time might start counting when the issue is waiting for support. It might stop when the issue is once again waiting for the customer. Each time the issue meets the start condition, a new cycle of the SLA will begin.
  • In an SLA that guarantees a certain response time excluding time spent waiting on a customer, the time might start counting when the issue is created. It might stop counting when the issue is resolved, and it will pause each time the issue is waiting for a customer.

Here's a look at how you use JIRA Service Desk SLA designer to set the conditions for the time metrics:

Notice that you can set multiple conditions for the start, stop, and pause time. Check out Example: Creating an SLA that doesn't track continuous time for an in-depth look at how you can use this functionality.

Setting up the SLA goals

While the time conditions on an SLA specify what your team considers to be "trackable" time for the SLA, the goal section of the SLA designer lets you set the amount of time that's allowed for different scenarios. SLA goals can be in whole hours or in time increments less than an hour. For example:

  • An SLA that guarantees issues will be resolved in certain amounts of time might specify Blocker issues will be resolved in 24 hours and Critical issues will be resolved in 36 hours. 
  • An SLA might also guarantee times for very specific issue criteria. For example, an SLA for Blocker issues might specify that Blocker issues created by a member of the Build Engineering team might have a goal of being resolved in 12 hours, while Blocker issues created by a member of the Accounting team might have a goal of being resolved in 36 hours.

Here's a look at how you use the JIRA Service Desk SLA designer to set the goals for various issues:


  •  A best practice is to base a goal on criteria that doesn't change throughout an issue's lifecycle. For example, you would not create a goal based on an issue status.
  • When creating SLA goals that use a fraction of an hour, write the time as Xh Ym (e.g. 3h 30m). You can write SLA goals as hours,  minutes, or both (but not days).


Creating SLA Calendars

By default, SLAs are measured against 24/7 working days; however, you can use SLA Calendars to specify the working hours during which time should count against the SLA goal. For example, SLA calendars let you exclude lunch breaks, holidays, or weekends from the time that affects the SLA metrics.

Use the Calendar button on the SLA tab to create calendars that work for your team and then associate them with SLAs as needed. The Sample 9-5 Calendar shown here can be edited to allow for a 1-hour lunch break that does not count towards the SLA goal. Simply delete the 09:00-17:00 line item and replace it with two line items (before and after lunch) for the same day: 

SLA calendars are unique to each service desk. If you want to use the same calendars in multiple service desks, you must re-create them in that project. See Example: Creating a basic SLA for an example of setting up an SLA that uses a 9-5 working day SLA calendar.

How your team sees SLAs

Your team members can see a read-only version of the SLA tab so they can view how the SLA is configured. In the detail view of issues, the SLA section lists even more detail about the SLA(s) that the issue is being measured against.


Review the following sections for more detail on what the SLA tracker conventions indicate.

Ongoing SLAs

The SLA tracker uses colors to indicate the urgency of a given SLA for an issue based on the time remaining.

SLA has greater than 1 hour remaining.
SLA has less than 1 hour remaining. If the SLA goal is one hour, the SLA has 30 minutes remaining.
SLA has less than 30 minutes remaining. If the SLA goal is one hour, the SLA has 15 minutes remaining.
SLA has breached the target. The amount of time past the goal is shown as a negative number.

The time count may be configured to pause on certain conditions. A paused SLA will display a paused icon:

Completed SLAs

A completed SLA displays the time remaining when the SLA was completed (or the amount of time breached) and an icon to indicate whether the SLA was completed successfully or unsuccessfully.

SLA completed successfully.
SLA completed unsuccessfully (it breached the target)

Multiple SLA targets

If the issue meets the criteria for multiple SLAs, trackers for each SLA will appear. In addition, if the SLA has had multiple cycles, you can hover over the symbols for more details on how the SLA was met for that particular cycle. (For example, in an SLA that is measured based on when an issue is waiting for support, you can see whether the SLA was met each time the issue started waiting for support.)

SLA sorting

When you view a list of issues (in a queue or elsewhere), you can sort them by their SLA resolution times. Ongoing issues are listed first, with the shortest time remaining at the beginning of the list. Completed issues are ranked last but aren't sorted by the remaining time.

SLA usage notes

  • Having the same user assigned to both the reporter and assignee roles may cause your SLA to work incorrectly. 
  • If you edit an existing SLA, JIRA Service Desk will re-index all the existing issues in the project; the re-indexing will ensure that the SLA status on the open issues reflects any changed criteria. All the historical SLA data for elapsed time will be recalculated to measure against the new metrics. Note that the SLA status is only recalculated for open issues and not for resolved issues. 
    For example, when the goal for Blocker issues changes from 6 hours to 4 hours, all the closed issues are still considered having met the goal as long as they were resolved in less than 6 hours. This ensures that your reports on closed issues remain accurate for the issues' lifecycle.
  • If issue data changes in such a way that the goals for the issue change (for example, the priority changes from Critical to Blocker), the time against the previous goal will be tracked against the new goal. In other words, if the support team spent an hour on a Critical issue, when the issue is escalated to Blocker, the hour still counts against the new goal, even if it causes the SLA to be breached. 
  • Setting up a goal to be dependent on a different SLA is not recommended. 

Want to learn more?

The best way to understand SLAs is to look at the out-of-the box SLAs JIRA Service Desk provides, or practice making your own. Check out these detailed examples of SLAs to get an idea of the different ways you can use SLAs in your team:

Example: creating a basic SLA
Example: Creating an SLA that doesn't track continuous time

Example: creating an SLA with multiple cycles

Last modified on May 1, 2015

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