Service Level Management is a process in which negotiations take place on the provision of services, the definition, measurement (evaluation), management and improvement of the quality of IT Support Services are carried out while observing an acceptable Cost Level. All these tasks should be solved in the context of rapidly changing business needs and rapidly developing technologies. The Service Level Management process helps to find the right balance between supply and demand for services of the required Quality Level, their ease of use and cost. Both the supplier and customer must clearly understand that the services are not only supplied but also used. This understanding is realized in the development, negotiation, and implementation of Service Level Agreements (SLA), Operational Service Level Agreements (OLA), External Contracts (UC) and the Service Quality Assurance Plan (SQP).
Basic concepts
IT Support Services Providers & Customers
Theoretically, anyone who gets IT Support services is a customer. In most cases, an IT organization like IT Services Birmingham is a supplier, but since it usually also receives IT services, it also acts as a customer of IT Support Birmingham from Service providers. All this creates a rather complex network of relationships. For example, the software development department may request services from the central processing department online, and at the same time, the same department performs software maintenance to ensure the continuity of the services it requests. Theoretically, Service Level Management is a linear process aimed at defining services and concluding agreements, such as External Agreements (UC) with external suppliers, Operational Service Level Agreements (OLAs) with internal suppliers or Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with customers. However, this issue requires a flexible approach, since the distinction between the customer and the provider of IT services is not always clear. In the context of the Service Level Management Process, we use the following customer and supplier definitions:
• The customer is a representative of an organization that has the authority to enter into agreements on behalf of the organization for IT services. Therefore, the customer and the end user of the services are not the same things.
• A supplier is a representative of an organization that has the authority to enter into agreements for the provision of IT services.
Service Level Requirements (SLR)
Service Level Requirements are a detailed description of customer needs, they are used in the development, modification, and initiation of services. Such requirements can be used as a prototype (tracing paper) for the development of a service and the corresponding Service Level Agreement (SLA), as well as a design assignment.
Service Specification Sheets – Spec Sheets
Specification tables are used to describe the relationship between the functionality (agreed with the customer and therefore determined from the outside, from the point of view of the supplier) and technology (used in the organization and therefore controlled from the inside) and contain a detailed specification of the service. The tables help translate the Service Level Requirements (external specifications) into technical definitions necessary to provide this service (internal specifications). In addition, they describe the relationships between the SLA, OLA and UC agreements. Specification tables are an important tool for monitoring the compliance of internal specifications with external ones.
Service Catalog
In developing the Service Catalog, an IT organization creates an image of itself as an IT service provider, and not just as a technological organization that implements and maintains hardware and software. The catalog contains a detailed description of existing services in a language understandable to the customer, as well as a description of the Service Levels that the organization can offer to its customers. In this regard, the Catalog is an important communicative tool. The service catalog can help to shape user expectations and thereby facilitate the process of aligning the goals and objectives of the customer and service provider. The catalog is created on the basis of external specifications and therefore must be written in a language understandable for the customer, and not the language of technical specifications.
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
The Service Level Agreement is an agreement between the IT organization and the customer, in which the services provided are specified in detail. This agreement describes services in non-technical terms, at the customer’s understanding level, and during the term of the agreement, it is the standard for evaluating and adjusting IT Support services. The agreement usually has a hierarchical structure, for example, services of a general nature, such as Managed lan and Network Service Desk services, are defined for the entire organization and approved by management. Services of a more specific nature, intended for business activities, are consistent at a lower level, for example, with the management of a business unit, budget owner, or customer representative.
Service Improvement Program (SIP)
This program is often implemented as a project, within which activities to improve the quality of IT services, stages and control points in this work are defined.
Service Quality Plan (SQP)
A service quality assurance plan is an important document, as it contains all the information necessary to manage an IT organization. It defines the parameters of the processes of service management and operational management. If the SLA Agreement determines what we will provide, then the SQP Plan determines how we will provide it. The quality assurance plan identifies the improvement goals for each process in the form of Performance Indicators. For example, for the Incident Management Process, the plan determines the resolution time for incidents depending on the varying degrees of impact, and for the Change Management Process, the cycle time and the cost of standard changes, such as staff relocation. For all processes, the types of reports and the timing of their submission are determined. Quality indicators are developed on the basis of Service Level Requirements and are entered in the Specification Tables. If external providers are involved in the provision of services, for example, when external resources are involved in the Service Desk or in the maintenance of personal computers, then Quality Indicators are defined in External Contracts.
Operational Level Agreement (OLA)
This is an agreement with an internal IT department that specifies arrangements for the provision of certain elements of services, such as network availability or availability of print servers. For example, if the SLA contains temporal measures in resolving high-priority incidents, then the Operational Service Level Agreement (OLA) should define targets for each element of the support chain (the parameters for the Service Desk are call response times, incident escalation, etc. ., the parameters for the Network Support Service – the timing of the investigation and elimination of network errors, etc.). Operational Service Level Agreements assist IT organizations in the overall service delivery process.
Underpinning Contract (UC)
This is an agreement with an external supplier that determines arrangements for the provision of specific services, for example, support for workstations or lease of a communication line. The effect of such a contract is similar to the external implementation of the OLA agreement. In many organizations, IT Support Birmingham are provided by an internal IT department. In this case, the SLA and OLA agreements are more a description of what the internal divisions have agreed on among themselves, rather than a legal document. However, an agreement with an external supplier is usually made in the form of an official legal document.