Service Level Management: Why You Should CareBy Ruby Gates 2004 marks a renewed approach to IT Management. Organizations went through a learning curve in 2003 and now acknowledge IT as a critical part of their business strategy. Essentially, IT evolved into the beating heart of competitive advantage. In particular, Line of Business (LoB) consumption of IT services gained momentum as a focus for organizations.
By Ruby Gates, Producer/Editor - IT Management Business Topic - BetterManagement.com 2004 marks a renewed approach to IT Management. Organizations went through a learning curve in 2003 and now acknowledge IT as a critical part of their business strategy. Essentially, IT evolved into the beating heart of competitive advantage.In particular, line of business (LoB) consumption of IT services gained momentum as a focus for organizations. Suddenly, aligning IT with the needs of business encouraged IT to be a key contributor to corporate value. But 2003 brought with it challenging economic times, compliancy to government regulations and movements within the industry to a more adaptive enterprise. As a result, interest in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) grew, and cataloguing advanced in importance. Concurrently, a stronger push developed for business to engage in service level management. As defined in the ITIL® Service Delivery book "Service Level Management maintains and improves business aligned IT service quality, through a constant cycle of agreeing, monitoring, reporting and reviewing IT service achievement". It is the continuous process of measuring, reporting and improving the quality of service provided by IT to the business.
SLM is a process that has been around for years; however, its popularity is on the rise due to necessity of IT supporting top priorities in the business. Often, IT is accused of not understanding line of business priorities and counters with the observation that there has never been agreement on service expectations in the first place.
The fallout creates a disconnect on capturing, communicating and maintaining LoB service needs in accordance with the demands of the business. At a deeper level, this disconnect jeopardizes business strategy. Ending this vicious cycle requires Service Level Management. SLM can demonstrate how IT performance affects business achievements. Catalogs for contracts, SLAs and service level objectives provide ways to capture, understand and prioritize business needs and requirements. Fortified with this information, IT can focus on projects that support business objectives by aligning their activities with customer needs. Understandably, organizations want LoBs to perform at their peak effectiveness. SLM provides key intelligence and direction in an atmosphere where IT performance and services are continuously assessed and managed.
Perhaps this is putting the cart before the horse. One of the biggest issues articulated last year was the inability for LoBs to communicate their service needs to IT and have the assurance that their needs will be fulfilled. This includes even the basic forms of communication, such as confusing acronyms and definitions understood only by IT personnel. LoBs require IT for success, but if the lines of communication are impeded, the entire organization suffers.