Many organisations are working with Service Level Agreements to have a
common understanding of the services the IT department delivers to the
internal business clients. But as the results of the poll show once
again, most of the time these Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) are not
achieving what you expect from them.

Why is this? Why do 34.1 % of the people say that their Service Level
Agreements don’t work at all? And only 20.5% that they work very much?

The secret of a successful SLA is that Service Level Agreements are
part of the process of Service Level Management. The other activities
in this process are:

  • Building a Service Catalogue
  • Mapping the service catalogue to the service requirements of your customer
  • Negotiating and signing the service level agreement
  • Reporting upon achieved service levels
  • Service Level improvement program

Service Level Agreements are one of the physical outcomes. By using a
step-by-step approach that includes all the above-mentioned activities
you ascertain yourself of a structure and the successful use of the
SLA’s. Because a SLA is a two-way communication document with
responsibilities and rights on both sides, these activities require
involvement from your clients.

How does it work?

  1. The IT department puts together a Service Catalogue with a price
    list. The Service Catalogue should be self-explaining and written in
    plain English. The internal client picks those services that are
    necessary to run their business processes (i.e. internet access, word
    processing tool for reporting). The price list makes it easier to
    understand the cost involved in delivering the services to the client.
    And it makes the client aware of the IT cost, even in an organisation
    that works on a fixed budget.
  2. The clients put together a list of Service Requirements. What
    sort of service do they need to run their business smoothly? How much
    time can IT use to deliver this service, or change something in the
    service delivery.
  3. When negotiating a Service Level Agreement the discussion is
    around the Service Level Requirements build by the customer. There will
    be a mutual understanding of the content of the SLA and both parties
    know exactly what to expect from each other. The clients also knows
    where the boundaries are in service delivery and this will take away a
    lot of the frustration later on.
  4. During the SLA negotiation, you also decide upon the reporting structure.
          1. What sort of reports does the client need? What information is necessary?
          2. How often does the client need a report?
          3. Does IT also report when things are going according to the SLA?
  5.  The first SLA is agreed for 6 to 12 months and during that
    period all necessary changes need to be documented. This is the input
    for a Service Level Improvement Program (SIP). During the last 2 months
    of the SLA period a gap analysis has to be conducted to allocate the
    areas for improvement.

Without all of the activities, you will never achieve effective service
level agreement. And without a strong client involvement during these
steps, chances are that the expectations exceed the physical delivery
with all the frustration and un-necessary energy draining meetings
attached to it.

For more information about implementing effective Service Level
Agreements and the process of Service level Management, please contact
The Art of Service by phone (1300 13 44 99) or email ([email protected])

The object of IT Service Level Management is to maintain and gradually
improve business aligned IT service quality, through a constant cycle
of agreeing, monitoring, reporting and reviewing IT service
achievements and through instigating actions to eradicate unacceptable
levels of service.

IT Service Level Management is responsible for ensuring that the
service targets are documented and agreed in IT Service Level
Management and monitors and reviews the actual service levels achieved
against their IT Service Level Management targets.  SLM should
also be trying to proactively improve all service levels within the
imposed cost constraints.  SLM is the process that manages and
improves agreed level of service between two parties, the provider and
the receiver of a service.

IT Service Level Management is responsible for negotiating and agreeing
service requirements and expected service characteristics with the
Customer, measuring and reporting of Service Levels actually being
achieved against target, resources required, cost of service
provision.  IT Service Level Management is also responsible for
continuously improving service levels in line with business processes,
with a SIP, co-coordinating other Service Management and support
functions, including third party suppliers, reviewing IT Service Level
Management to meet changed business needs or resolving major service
issues and producing, reviewing and maintaining the Service Catalogue.

IT Service Level Management addresses the entire life cycle of a
service, from the implementation of the service to the retirement or
"sun setting" of the service. The review processes inherent to IT
Service Level Management are designed to address not only service
delivery itself, but evaluates the ongoing viability of the current
service; whether or not it is still providing value to the
organization. If valuable, the review process addresses the adequacy of
the services as provided. If no longer required, the IT Service Level
Management process creates a new agreement with the customer as to how
the service will be retired, what services will replace the retired
service and how the IT Service Level Management process initiates and
addresses the new replacement services as provided.

The results of the IT Service Level Management process are codified in
service level agreements (SLAs). Service level agreements also provide
specific targets against which the performance of the IT Department can
be evaluated. The successful IT Service Level Management process
results in an improvement in service quality, higher levels of customer
productivity, and a subsequent reduction in the overall cost of
services provided. IT Service Level Management also establishes and
maintains the channels of communication between IT and its customers.

Specific benefits from SLM include:

    * Services provided by IT are those truly required by the business

  •     All parties agree and have a clearer view of roles and responsibilities
  •     Specific targets against which service quality can be measured, monitored, and reported are in place
  •     Focuses IT effort on those areas that the business considers important
  •     IT staff and customers having a clear and
    consistent expectation of the level of service required and delivered
  •     The customer is engaged into the service delivery chain
  •     The relationship between IT organizations is formalized
  •     The relationship between IT and suppliers is formalized
  •     Positions IT, to more accurately account for and possibly recover the cost of services provided to customers

The scope of IT Service Level Management is to maintain and gradually
improve IT Service quality, through a constant cycle of agreeing,
monitoring, and reporting upon IT service achievements and instigation
of actions to eradicate poor service – in line with business or cost
justification. IT Service Level Management is the name given to the
processes of envisioning, planning, developing, and deploying IT
service delivery to customers. Service level agreements provide the
basis for managing the relationship between the provider and the

The IT Service Level Management Process is designed to establish,
maintain, measure, and adjust to service requirement changes. It does
so through agreements with all parties involved in the service delivery
process. In order to ensure proper service delivery, IT establishes
formal agreements with:

  •     Customers in the form of service level agreements (SLAs)
  •     Internal IT organizations in the form of operating level agreements (OLAs)
  •     Suppliers through underpinning contracts (UCs)

Relationship to Other Processes: The successful implementation of the
IT Service Level Management process involves a coordinated effort of
all service management functions (SMFs). The creation of SLAs and OLAs
requires input from all SMFs. The service level manager must have an
open line of communication to the business process owners and each SMF
manager and must provide the managers with guidelines for the reporting
of OLA information. The service level management process is not
effective unless all SMF managers are willing to cooperate.

Recording and maintaining a Service Catalog is one of the most critical
aspects of a Service Level Managment process. A key success factor of a
Service Catalog is being able to capture the availabilty requirements
for that service, the resolution time for that service, and which
departments in the business use that service.

People keep asking me: “what is so special about IT Service Management?” After all, there are numerous other management frameworks or models. Why do I like IT service Management so much?

Well, the reason is a very difficult, and at the same time a very simple one: I like people and I like quality. And IT Service Management combines the two into a very pragmatic, easy to follow, framework. It’s not a dogmatic, rigid model that leaves no room for flexibility, but a flexible holistic approach to your IT organisation.

I am not an IT person in the usual sense of the word. I don’t like computers and don’t know how to program. But I do work in the IT industry, for nearly 10 years now. I started in the IT industry as a Quality Manager but soon enough learned the hard way that quality for the sake of quality doesn’t work. There has to be a need, an urgency for quality. And if there isn’t, no CEO is going to invest money in a major reorganisation project.

Looking for a different and better way to make people aware of the importance of quality in their organisation, I learned about a framework called IT Service Management. And it is just that: a framework to help you manage your IT Services.

In every organisation I have seen since, I have seen a need for more customer focus. Clients are complaining about the services delivered by the IT shop. IT professionals make beautiful things, without consulting their clients if there is a need for this functionality. A waste of money and time!

CIO’s in particular struggle to become a serious peer to CEO’s and CFO’s. They need to make the added value of their IT shop visible to the entire organisation. Without this visibility and added value, it is very difficult to engage IT into business decisions and to allocate business budget for IT enhancements.

So how does IT Service Management help CIO’s in their struggle?

IT Service Management consists of 10 processes, which help you focus on your customer. The (internal) client determines what sort of service they need, and how much money they want to pay for it. The process of Service Level Management coordinates all activities around this question. Activities like setting up a service catalogue and signing a Service Level Agreement for instance.

All activities in the IT shop are structured in processes, rather than functions. All IT functions work together (across boundaries)  to deliver the service to the client, according to the clients’ expectation. By doing this, you link IT to the business and have the possibility to show the added value of IT for the achievements of the broader organisational goals.

The 10 IT Service Management processes are subdivided into 2 sets:

Service Support Set:

  •     Incident Management
  •     Problem Management
  •     Change Management
  •     Release Management
  •     Configuration Management
  •     Service Desk (function, not a process!)

Service Delivery Set:

  •     Service Level Management
  •     Financial Management for IT Services
  •     Capacity Management
  •     Availability Management
  •     IT Service Continuity Management

Separate from these processes is the separate book of Security Management.

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