August 3, 2010

Starting with Service Level Management

Posted in Service Level Management at 3:34 pm by Molly

Service Level Management is one of those processes that some organisations hate to focus on because of the hard work that it entails.  It’s true though, it involves a cost element and maybe a few resources if you were to outsource this implementation, and so it is that it is usually left as a last step in any ITIL improvement or implementation project.

Honestly, it doesn’t have to be that hard – so don’t let it scare you into a quivering wreck in the corner of the office.

Let’s begin by looking at what you need to initially focus on to get the ball rolling in your organisation.  Let me also state that you will need at the minimum two full-time resources (permanent or contractual) for this if you were looking at implementing SLM in a medium sized nationally spread organisation and you wanted to have 1000 services catalogued and contractually agreed inside your ITSM tool/system with a time duration of one year (all dependent on the complexity of the organisation of course).  I’m trying not to sound biased here when I say that it take a special character of person to fulfil this role to it most effective means.  You should consider candidates who have the following skillsets for this role: time management, attention to detail, business analysis skills, documentation writer, confident, outgoing, pleasant, friendly, persistent, meeting organiser/chair person, a good presenter, articulate, concise, service management experience with Service Level Management, Service Catalogue and Asset Management, Configuration Management experience are just some of a list of skills you can begin to look for in your resources.

Challenging Times

It is true that there are still many IT managers and directors out there in many organisations who measure the effectiveness of their organisations by looking at the hardware and software components.  Think how limiting that already sounds!  ‘Measuring effectiveness by looking at our hardware and software‘ – excuse me but where do the users come into play – don’t we care about them anymore?

The Accountants on floor 3 need to have SAP availability 100% 24/7 from 07:00hrs to 18:00hrs Monday to Saturday (incase one of them remote accesses the database on a Saturday!)  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  Sure we can have SAP up and running 24/7 6 days a week, but SAP operates on an infrastructure of other services like networks, routers, servers, databases, firewalls, backbones, SANs, LANs, WANs …. now the head is spinning.  So even if the IT manager could have SAP operationally available 100% of the time, in reality it might only be available 99.98% of the time because there are other dependencies.

Now we know where we stand, let’s try and understand SLM in more detail.

SLM is a disciplined, proactive methodology using processes and procedures to ensure adequate levels of services are delivered to all IT users (customers) aligned with business priorities and wait for it COST.  IT has to understand the ‘relative’ priority of each of the services it provides and the business importance of each of those services, whether they are delivered internally or externally to an organisation, whether they are delivered by the IT department or are outsourced by the IT via a 3rd party vendor.

Service levels are defined in terms of availability; responsiveness; integrity & security.  The SAP system is not only used by the Accounts department but also the HR department so all services must relate directly to the end user (the customer).  So how is all this defined?  When you start a new job, you have a ‘contract‘ it defines what your daily duties will be, how you should perform, what your remits will be, and so there is a statement of what the company will do for you, your salary, pension and benefits, your working times etc … so it is very similar to the agreements between the IT department and the end users/departments/3rd parties etc.  It is most likely to also include some clauses regarding compensation and warranties.

Consider this: one has the choice of 2 vendors who deliver a service to IT.  The IT manager receives both bids, one with a comprehensive SLA and the other with a few mentions of ‘promises’.  The astute IT manager will of course choose the bidder with the comprehensive SLA because this vendor is saying they can offer 100% reliability and include penalty clauses if they fail to deliver – exactly what the IT manager is looking for.  When you purchase a new car from a dealer, don’t you ask for some sort of warranty so that if the car goes wrong then you have some course of recompense – and you have more legal rights with this warranty contract too.  When you purchase a car from a private owner, its really sold ‘as seen’ – you see it, you drive it, you poke around, you check the log book, but there is no warranty that the private seller can ‘sell’ you.  If you are a cautious person you would buy a car from the car dealership, if you were a risk taker and you know you might be able to fix the car up yourself, then you would go to private sellers.

More to come shortly …

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