Service level management (SLM) and its effect on institutional accounting.

Beyond what a business or organization actually does or sells, or how successful they may be, there is always one overlying element lingering around that’s trying to keep a close eye on things.  This vigilant element is of course, the accounting department.  There are a lot of mixed attitudes regarding accounting. For example, while the duties they perform are absolutely necessary and only exist to add stability to an organization, accounting divisions are often vilified, even feared by some. 

Why the apprehension about accounting?  Many individuals often worry that their positions will be unexpectedly outsourced or downsized.  This is especially true if the accountants responsible for these types of decisions lack a complete understanding of what goes on in other departments.  For those in IT, the fear is that someone will grossly underestimate the importance of key IT personnel which not only jeopardizes individual positions, but also the continuity / operations of the entire company.  This is a justified concern as, those in higher level management positions might take a lot the technical innovations, systems, and personnel for granted.

(Not to worry however); through the implementation of service level management IT sectors can improve their status within their own organization(s) as well as appease any concerns that accounting might bring to light.  However, in order to properly establish service level management, an all-inclusive service level agreement (SLA) must be created.  The SLA will essentially take stock of all IT assets (hardware, software, protocol and personnel), and then allow certain individuals to design a new set of strategies, and pinpoint long term goals.  Also, great effort might be put forth toward identifying the business strategies of the entire organization, what equipment / personnel might be required to achieve them, as well as how existing assets could be put to better use.

SLM toolkit
The implementation of service level management is really a chance to more fully utilize the expertise, creativity, and general problem solving abilities of IT (this of course would be the case if the organization in question took a more active approach to Service Level Management).  In a more standard setting, service level management will simply serve as a sort of blueprint for constancy and assured performance.  Most organizations will appreciate these attributes most because they would allow for more tactical planning and assist in decision making processes as well.  In other words, “filling in the variables makes the equation much understandable”. 

Performance in Service Level Management is measured on an ongoing basis.  Once a service level management strategy has been implemented, monitoring and data gathering will ensue.  After a significant amount of pertinent data has been collected, it will be compared with the expectations laid out in the service level agreement.   What this does is allow IT to judge how effective they were in carrying out processes and ultimately, achieving their goals.  In this way, measures can be taken to remedy sluggish performance and crisis’s can be avoided altogether; after all, saving capital that would be spend on disaster recovery is in effect, earned profit.

Arguably, Service Level Management is the best method that any IT department can implement in order to justify themselves to the accounting element of their organization.  It’s not that accountants are “boogey men/women” who are bent on causing disruption, quite the opposite is true; accountants want to make sure that money being spent is facilitating profit generation.  This can also be a monumental opportunity for the intrepid IT division.  For example, loads of organizations these days are becoming dependent on their web services for consumers, as well as the various technological components used to maintain in-house operations (like cloud computing, for example).    If your IT department can prove to accounting that they are actually helping to produce a significant portion of their organization’s profits then it might be possible to ask and receive other benefits (like increased salaries and/or departmental budgets).

In this way, service level management could act as a sort of intermediary system between the assorted departments of a company.  On the other hand, instituting Service Level Management in a department filled with lazy, self indulgent personnel quickly reveal to accounting that changes are required.  The successful realization of service level management is most likely going to rest upon the shoulders of whoever is appointed to the post of service level manager.  If this individual is able to correctly establish priorities, conduct fruitful negotiations, and assert the position of IT, then no problems should arise and everyone should be happy with the results (even the accountants). 

The Art of Service has a comprehensive offering of education solutions including Service Level Management training geared toward the busy IT professional. AOS instructors are experienced in classroom-style delivery, boardroom-style executive coaching, on-the-job training and online virtual support for remote students.

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