SLA + SLM (Service Level Agreement & Service Level Management)
A brief explanation of how these two fundamental concepts function together and how they can establish a better IT solution (for servicing business agendas).

A symbiotic relationship is one where two or more parties / entities share resources and / or rely on each other for survival or operations.   A good example of a symbiotic relationship would be the microscopic life-forms which resides in the human digestive system, without them, we couldn’t break down food in the way that we do.  In effect, our survival is dependent on the duties these tiny organisms perform.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with service level management (SLM) or a Service level agreement (SLA), right?    If you haven’t already made the connection; the relationship between SLM and a SLA is essentially a symbiotic one.  For example, service level management procedures cannot be instituted without first establishing a service level agreement (which is to serve as the blueprint of sorts).  By the same token, a service level agreement is simply an outline of goals, inventory of assets, accord between parties, and a series of strategies for carrying everything out.  Like service level management however, a service level agreement cannot be instituted without the assistance of (in this case) SLM.  This is because service level management is actually the active entity responsible for instituting any SLA policies.

In many cases, the same individuals that are ultimately going to be responsible for performing the duties of the service level management are going to actually craft the service level agreement.  In fact, it would be considered odd at this point if the proposed (or current) service level manager didn’t participate in the design of their organization’s SLA.   This is because a quality service level manager is an individual that is often highly skilled, qualified, and experienced; meaning, they should have intimate knowledge about what actually works and what doesn’t.

Of course one should also keep in mind that not every situation is the same.   There’s a surprising amount of deviation and diversity present when you look at all IT departments as a whole.  Sure, they may be operating on similar principles, certifications, and systems, but everything becomes much more complex when you factor software and application into the mix.  This is just one example of why a designated service level manager must be extremely able.   After all, their parent organization(s) is depending on them to not only keep their IT systems up and running, but also to assist in devising ways of utilizing available technological assets to actually begin fulfilling “big picture” business goals and generating profits.

Anything that’s immediately relevant to current operations, goals, projects and/or aspirations will be included in a comprehensive service level agreement.  Care is also taken to explore those items / events which have the potential to become relevant in the future.

The main concern of any service level agreement is to create strategies and contingencies for every aspect in the operation of IT assets.   This is valuable not only for those directly participating in the monitoring and maintenance of IT systems, but also to the people who are involved the decision making processes of the business (or the business that an IT organization is servicing).

Things become even more crucial when you factor in that many of today’s businesses are utilizing IT in exciting new ways.  They are essentially treating IT as another department for generating profits.  This is in sharp contrast to the way IT previously functioned, which was mostly in a maintenance capacity.  Why are business leaders interested in IT as money maker, in and of itself?  It’s largely because today’s public is trending toward utilizing web services.

Almost every type of business organization these days is employing some form of internal and external web service(s).  (Internal meaning, for in-house operations and external meaning, services that customers might use).    However, an organization can’t assess their IT goals or ensure continuous operations without SLA and SLM, respectively.  Likewise, it would be nearly impossible for even the most intrepid, intelligent and daring service level manager to single-handedly formulate a strategy for achieving their bosses’ business goals while also having no idea of what might be required (hardware, software and personnel) to actually achieve them.  What SLA actually does is provide a forum for allowing all involved parties (business and tech-related) opportunity to raise their concerns and add their desires to the fold.  These ideas are then used to formulate strategies and identify components for executing them.

Service level management and a comprehensive service level agreement are the only two components needed to build a bridge between the desires of an organization and what they’re actually capable of accomplishing.  These two revolutionary concepts in establishing, monitoring, maintaining and utilizing IT services are perfect for meeting the requirements and challenges facing the modern business.

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