How service level management can align business and IT priorities
What does service level management entail, specifically?
Service level management is an umbrella concept which seeks to ensure the functionality and viability of IT assets with regards to a pre-established service level agreement. In layman’s terms, service level management is simply a way of taking stock of what your IT department is actually doing and pushing it toward what it should be doing. A service level agreement is basically a blueprint for running and managing any IT department.
For example, a typical service level agreement will include items like;
- Warranty information
- System for dealing with disagreements and cancellations
- Management and ongoing monitoring of assets
- Support and problem solving
- Information confidentiality concerns
- Property rights
- Legal compliance issues / concerns
- Extent and nature of the work being performed
- Actual performance (in real time)
Once all the necessary areas of interest and duty have been outlined via the service level agreement, a service level manager can use said info to define and perform their duties. In most cases, it is the duty of those directly involved in service level management to actually construct an agreement; this makes perfect sense too because it will also be their duty to monitor the system once it’s up and running.
But the main goal of SLM (service level management) should be to give IT the power to bring the ideas, concepts and productivity of any business to life. That is to say that (through implementation of Service Level Management) an IT department should be doing everything within its power to enhance and facilitate the business processes of its parent organization. This is becoming increasingly important as well, because technology continues to grow at an alarming rate. Today’s businesses are often entirely dependent on (not only) their internal computing infrastructure(s), but also web-deployments and services as well.
How service level management is formally established:
First, it is necessary to review all existing services in order to determine what, if any, changes must be made. This also allows you to clearly identify what is working, and what isn’t.
Then, those providing the IT services / management will enter into a dialogue or conference with their customer, or employer, in order to establish expectations and add additional components as needed / required. At some point it will be necessary to also take a detailed look at any and all existing contracts between the client and third party vendors / service providers. This is simply to ensure that there are no obvious qualms and that any existing contractual limitations / obligations won’t trigger a lapse in service (downtime = loss of profits, after all).
Afterwards, a SLA (service level agreement) can be formally established and used to further assist in designing a SLM setup. Once everything has been covered, it might also be beneficial to summarize client expectations with regards to any future improvements to specific / individual services. This of course goes hand in hand with creating a detailed plan of action for future growth as well.
It is also important for any SLM agreement to clearly indicate what its priorities, or chief concerns actually are. This not only helps the client to better understand how they will benefit, but also clearly underlines the role that IT management should be playing in the business.
Finally, after everything is laid out, formal projections should be made and data should be gathered which would detail how SLM services are financially viable (as a general rule, it’s always a good idea to try and make friends in the accounting department).
If service level management properly defines every relevant aspect of a business’ IT assets it can only improve their sales and standing. SLM is really a system for streamlining IT processes so that an organization is able to utilize its available technologies in the absolute best (and most profitable) manner possible.