What clients want…

I just watched the film ‘What women want’ and it struck me how
wonderful it would be if we could read each other’s minds. Our lives
would be so much easier, at least our professional lives. We would know
what to expect and how to respond to other people’s expectations.
Quality assurance is a piece of cake and customer surveys unnecessary
because we know exactly what our customers think of us.

IT Service Management is all about managing these expectations while
delivering IT Services to our internal clients according to these
expectations. In order to do this, all ten processes work together in a
holistic approach to IT Service delivery. Having said that, there is a
process in the Service Delivery set that has the primary focus on the
clients expectations: Service Level Management. The process of Service
Level Management deals with the expectations of clients and the
changing demands. It discusses together with the clients what their
needs and wishes are and together IT and the business come to an
agreement about the service levels to deliver.

The activities within the process are:

  • Preparing a service catalogue (what services does the IT department deliver)
  • Negotiate a service level agreement (SLA)
  • Report on the achieved service levels
  • Service level Improvement program (SIP)

The entire process is based on a very simple quality-standard: Tell
your customer what you are about to do (Service catalogue and Service
Level agreement), do it (operations), tell them what you have done
(report on service levels) and do it again but than better (SIP).

By organising your service delivery with the help of a process like
Service Level Management, your service and quality of the service is
according to expectations. Your clients are not unpleasantly surprised
about your service levels. Of course you can’t succeed without the nine
other processes. It is very nice to have a service catalogue, but you
need processes like capacity management and availability management for
instance to guarantee the delivery of the services. And how can you add
a price to a service without the process of Financial Management? But
you need to start somewhere and Service Level Management is a good
place to start when you need to know what your clients expect you to do.

That is why the Service Level Manager has a very important role within
the IT organisation. He or she is the hinge point between the business
and IT. The service level manager is always looking for answers to the
following questions:

  • Where is the IT department going towards?
  • What is our direction?
  • What does the business require from IT in order to run the business processes effectively?
  • How much is the business willing to pay for IT services.

In order to be successful as a Service Level Manager you need to have a
strong business focus but also the ability to translate business
requirements in IT services. The Service Level Manger is the translator
between the two worlds and should be a very good communicator.

In that sense, the analogy between the movie ‘What Women Want’ and
Service Level Management is very good. Very often men and women speak a
different language even though we use the same words. The same goes for
business and IT: we use the same words but attach different meanings to

Let’s hope we really hear each other, so we don’t need to read each other’s mind to know what we want.

Ivanka Menken