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Tuesday, January 29, 2002


The theme of this entry is service level management and supporting processes. First stop is Service Management: Supplier's Perspective by Hewlett-Packard. This document gives an overview of the ITIL service level management framework and how it can fit within a supplier's strategy. Clarity Consulting has two interesting and brief articles. The first is titled Five Principles of SLAs, which sets the context for Metrics for IT Outsourcing Service Level Agreements.

Application Planet also has a well-written SLA whitepaper that is worth bookmarking. A gem in PDF format is SLA Management, which was first presented at Interop 2001. The ASP Alliance Chapter has related articles on service level management, the best of which (in my opinion) is SLA Draft Program Version 1.0. Although this draft is little more than an outline, it's useful for structuring your own SLA standard.

A paper in PDF format titled Service Level Management: A Requirements View bridges applications and service delivery aspects of service level management. An example of an application-specific SLA (for MS Exchange) is Blueprint for an Exchange Service Level Agreement. If you're using Exchange so much the better, however this document serves as a general model that fits many desktop applications.

SLAs: An Overview and the related paper, SLA Performance Metrics are foundation material for a service level management initiative that already has the basics in place. Along the same lines, Availability Metrics and The "Availability Gotcha" (or Why 99.999% Still Equals Nothing) are crammed with thought-provoking ideas and not a little debunking.

On the outsourcing side of the equation, Intel (of all companies) has an excellent online whitepaper titled Engaging and Managing Outsource Vendors for eBusiness. The FDIC has a set of guidelines that are aimed at financial institutions, but apply to any business, titled Tools to Manage Technology Providers' Performance Risk: SLAs. Two other documents that take a risk management approach to outsourcing is A Guide to the Critical Success Factors and SLAs and Hedging of Risks for Service Providers.

Great things come in pairs: Using Service Level Agreements for Competitive Advantage and Running IT Like a Business are a pair of documents that show how service level management is the key to IT proving its value to the business.

I'll end this with a touch of humor in the form of a complaint that two customers jointly wrote to a hotel chain. This complaint is unique because (1) it was not presented on one of those postcard-sized feedback forms, but instead was delivered as a PowerPoint Presentation and (2) it was written by two consultants who obviously do a lot of presentations. I don't personally know the two consultants--I came across this presentation from my close friend Kate Hartshorn (who is a PowerPoint wizard in her own right). What I do know is that smart, disgruntled customers can and will hold you accountable for the level and quality of service that you provide. Moreover, they should. While you're smiling at how the complaint was cleverly crafted and the hotel deserved such scathing feedback ask yourself how your customers view your organization. Enjoy.