The primary goal of Service Level Management is to ensure that an agreed level of IT service is provided for all current IT services, and that future services are delivered in line with agreed achievable targets. It also proactively seeks and implements improvements to the level of service delivered to customers and users.

While some organizations may continue to rely on a ‘best endeavors’ approach to service quality, the majority have realized that there needs to be a consistent, agreed and understandable method used for defining and reporting of IT service quality. As the modern IT organization has matured over time to be more akin to any other area of business, there has also been an increased requirement for more formal methods, by which the value of funding and investments into IT are assessed, and performance measured for services provided and capabilities supported. In the context of Service Offerings and Agreements, Service Level Management is the process that seeks to provide consistency in defining the requirements for services, documenting targets and responsibilities, and providing clarity as to the achievements for service quality delivered to customers.

In effect, the process seeks to manage the ‘grey areas’ that are formed between customers and the IT organization, as well as ensuring that the activities performed by various IT groups are coordinated optimally to meet customer requirements. The staff involved (Service Level Management team) are fluent in both technical and business jargon; they resolve disputes between parties (but as a result are sometimes seen as a spy in both camps) and generally work to improve the relationship between the IT organization and the customers it supports.

Terminology

Explanation
Service Level Agreement (SLA): A written agreement between a service provider and their Customers that documents agreed levels of service for a Service.   
Service Catalog: A written statement of available IT services, default levels, options, prices and identification of which business processes or customers use them.      
Underpinning Contract (UC): Contract with an external supplier that supports the IT organization in their delivery of services.
Operational Level Agreement (OLA):

Internal agreement with another area of the same organization which supports the IT service provider in their delivery of services.
Service Level Requirements: Detailed recording of the Customer’s needs, forming the design criteria for a new or modified service.

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