Service Level Management

Firstly, Service Level Management or SLM is the heart of Service Management.

This process is responsible to make sure that Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) and Underpinning Contracts (UPCs) are met.

Service Level Management also makes sure that Service Targets, like availability of services and response time are all agreed upon in advance and accurately documented. It also manages the SLAs and provides targets which can be used to judge the performance of the service provider.

Some people like to say the goal of Service Level Management is to improve the quality of IT Services provided through regularly monitoring, reporting and reviewing the performance of the services, while at the same time working towards removing service or performance bottlenecks whenever possible.

Service Level Management is made up of four important stages. Let’s quickly take a look at each of these:

Stage 1: Create the Service Management Catalog.

Stage 2: Identify the SLRs (Service Level Requirements): This is basically identitying what kind of service your customers are exactly looking for and what they are willing to pay for.

Stage 3: Based on the SLRs (Service Level Requirements) go ahead and create the Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) and Underpinning Contracts (UPCs).

Stage 4: Create the SLA. Here, you can modify any existing SLAs you may have with any other client to suit your own company’s or organization’s business requirements.

Once you have created the SLA this way, you need to get it formally agreed by the customer. Once the agreement has been formalized, the SLAs need to be implemented and all concerned parties have to be informed about it.

Okay, so what happens after the SLAs are all agreed upon and implemented and you start to actually provide the service? Let’s take a look:

The next stage in SLM is to constantly monitor the services, provide accurate reports to the customer and at the same time, constantly review and modify any specific areas that may be seen as a Service or Performance bottleneck.

The next activity that needs to be carried out is to update the Service Catalog appropriately.

A crucial activity that also needs to be carried out is that review of the Service Level Management process as a whole. You should be able to point out the Critical Success Factors so that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be established.

Monitoring and Reporting form an important part of Service Level Management. SLAs, OLAs and UPCs need to be monitored constantly so that whenever there is a breach in any of these, the same can not only be rectified at the earliest, but steps can also be taken to avoid or prevent future occurrences.

Reports should be simple and clear. It should clearly what happened and why. They can be Internal or External.

Internal Reporting covers the SLAs, OLAs and UPCs.

External Reporting covers Exception reports are used to indicate why there was a breakdown in service or why it came close to that.

The other important terms used for reporting in Service Level Management are SLAM or Service Level Agreement Monitoring Chart (another example of External Reporting). The color code used here is called RAG or Red, Amber & Green – which is used to quickly display the Service Levels and/or breaches, if any.

Trend Graphs are also quite popular as a Reporting Tool. They show the Consistency of Service over a defined period of time.