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The Diplomacy of a Service Level Manager

Jul 2, 2009

Ami Nahari

There is a myth that Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, used to provide hallucinogenic drugs to his managers in their yearly meeting to negotiate department budgets. The story tells that those meetings were very creative and friendly! I am not suggesting drugging opposing sides when discussing service levels, but providing a friendly environment is crucial.

The negotiation will be completed more smoothly and more quickly if the SLM manager comes prepared with details about the service provisions (spec sheet) on one hand and with the business needs (service level requirement document) on the other.

When presenting the service levels to the customer, the SLM manager will need to supply supporting evidence. Suppose the customer will be presented with a service desk service level metric stating that, “95% of calls must be answered within 5 minutes”. The first natural response will be, “Why only 95%? Why not 100%?” or, “Why can’t it be within 1 minute rather than five?”

The customer should be presented with the cost of the services and how it is being distributed, and the stated needs and requirements for the services as agreed upon in the documentations phase. Then the service levels will be a lot more acceptable for the customer, and the negotiation phase will go smoothly.

To summarize, SLM managers must exercise their diplomatic skills when managing the process. As one, you must prepare yourself with knowledge of the environment and the people in the documentation phase, make sure you protect both IT and the business in the negotiations phase, and maintain healthy relationships using a good monitoring system. The objective is to run IT services that make sense both from a cost perspective and from a business perspective.

Ami Nahari is an IT Service Management consultant with BT. As an expert leader in the field of ITSM, ITIL and SLM, Ami has assessed and implemented SLM processes for Fortune 100 companies such as Siemens, Washington Mutual, and Lenovo. Within his impressive 10 years of experience, he brings first-rate project management skills, creative approach, and proven leadership to every engagement.