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The Key to Quality Service Level Management

Aug 15, 2005

ITSM Watch Staff

By Karsten Smet - Page 3

Service Catalogue
How do we know what Services we provide and therefore what SLAs to put in place? This is one of the responsibilities of the Service Catalogue, often overlooked in its importance.

The best way to approach the population of a Service Catalogue is to understand the Customer's perception of the Services. It is not uncommon for a Customer to have a single service that is made up from three or four separate applications where at least one of these is invisible to the business.

By asking Customers (i.e. SLRs) you can begin to document what goes into the Service Catalogue. If many of the ITIL Service Support processes are in use one can get this information from the Service Desk who receive and record comments directly from Customers.

Periodically audit Service Management tools as Services forgotten about by IT may still be active and have had Incidents, Problems and Changes logged against them. The Configuration Management Database will also outline Services, but the key is always to understand the Customers perception.

A Service Catalogue can appear in many different formats such as word documents, spreadsheets, etc. ITIL does offer guidance on the type of information captured in the Service Catalogue; however, you may like to consider these additional items to make a catalogue more valuable within an IT support Organisation;
  • Service Name
  • Basic Service Description
  • Key Business Users
  • Importance of Service
  • Key Support areas
  • Planned Maintenance/Outage data
  • SLA (in place and where it is located)
By providing slightly more information, it is possible to use this resource within a Service Desk to support the allocation of priority to faults and direct Incidents to the relevant area alongside the Configuration Management Database.

This will also aid in the general support Service Desk staff can give to improve Customer satisfaction through system knowledge and understanding Customer usage etc. The Service Catalogue should also facilitate the ability for organisations to "speak the same language."

I empathise with ITIL in its reluctance to detail how to use OLAs, SLRs, UCs and the Service Catalogue because these subjects are not simple to define. The techniques in writing and documenting SLAs are much more prescriptive and are open to debate by the Service Level Management teams' perception of the framework.

This lack of detail could be why many organisations have implemented SLAs without OLAs defined nor with the consideration of UCs. These SLAs often detract, and potentially destroy the benefits delivered by Service Level Management, as they may not have the support required from third parties and/or internal support groups. As every organisation is different so will the format be of OLAs and UCs.

ITIL is very deliberate on the construction and implementation of SLAs. The framework is very Customer focused and uses SLAs as a way to support continuous service improvement to the business. It is important to realise that SLAs are pointless and will fail unless you understand your customers' perception of the service and the agreement of all parties who are responsible to help you deliver this service to your customer.

If SLAs are the key deliverable of Service Level Management then it is fair to say that the deliverables outlined above are equivalent to the locksmith cutting the key to ensure it fits the SLM lock.

"Karsten Smet studied IT and Business Management at Leeds obtaining an Upper Second Class Honours and started his career with British Airways as an IT graduate. His tenure at BA includes Application Maintenance, System Design and Service Management.

Karsten's more recent roles have centred around the full implementation of ITIL processes and an integrated service management tool. He works as one of the two Service Management consultants at British Airways.

Regarded as an expert in the field of Change and Configuration Management, Karsten has had several articles published worldwide and is a source of reference for many ITIL practitioners as well as supporting a small selection of organisations in their push to become ITIL compliant. Karsten is fully qualified in ITIL gaining a Distinction on my Managers Certificate"

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