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Implementing Basic Service Level Management in ITIL

Part of the ITIL For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

If you don’t know what your customers need, you can never know whether you’re meeting their needs. It’s like fighting in the dark. You can never be right. (On the other hand, you can never be wrong – some people find this prospect attractive, but your customers won’t be impressed.)

Service level management is, pretty obviously, the process that manages service levels. The process tries to set up a proper relationship with your customers and understand their business needs. Of course first you need to know who your customers are.

If you’re the internal IT department that provides IT stuff to other people and departments within the same company, your customers are the business unit managers or department managers. If you’re a commercial IT services company providing IT services to other companies in exchange for money, your customers are those other companies; usually there is an assigned representative who talks to you.

To implement service level management:

  • Set up a dialogue with your customers

  • Find out what they want

  • Agree with them what you can provide

  • Monitor and report on what you’ve achieved

If you haven’t done this before, you’ll be surprised at the difference simply starting a dialogue with the business makes. In some cases the business will be amazed that you bothered to talk to it. If you’re open and honest and state your intentions up front, your customers will be happy to talk to you.

ITIL also defines the process of business relationship management and the role of business relationship manager. The service level manager defines, agrees and reports on the service level for specific services – the business relationship manager maintains an overall relationship with the customer, keeps in contact, and looks for new opportunities to support the customer’s needs. Many organisations combine these roles into one job description. When setting up some basic service level management, you consider which roles you need.

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