Service Level Management

Benefits and advantages of service level management

 

 

Ralph Bockisch
29.06.2021

What does Service Level Management (SLM) cover and what are its advantages?

The demands and expectations on IT are constantly increasing. For service providers, this means that they have to define their own service portfolio precisely and communicate it with the customer. Service level management aims to increase customer satisfaction through consistent service orientation. This is achieved, for example, through Service Level Agreements (SLA), which are agreed with external customers, as well as through Underpinning Contracts (UC) with external service providers. Operation Level Agreements (OLA), which are agreed with internal service providers, are also part of service level management. Service level reporting is also one of the core tasks in SLM. In this article you will learn how IT service providers can benefit from this and how SLM can be implemented in the company.

Definition: What is Service Level Management (SLM)?

Service Level Management is used to define, optimise and monitor IT services. It is an ITIL process discipline whose main goal is to bring the performance of IT services permanently in line with customer expectations. This is to ensure a constantly high level of customer satisfaction. In this context, a distinction is made between internal customers, external customers and service providers, whose services are each defined with their own contracts or agreements.

 

The essential tasks in service level management include:

  • Determining the business requirements of the service recipients (internal and external customers).
  • Definition, control and continuous optimisation of IT services
  • Creation of quality plans (target specifications) for IT services
  • Defining and managing the IT service catalogue
  • Development and management of supporting agreements, both with internal service providers (in the form of OLAs) and with external suppliers and service providers (as UCs)
  • Regular and continuous control, monitoring and analysis of the SLAs in terms of target achievement, costs and other essential parameters
  • Definition, preparation and distribution of reports on compliance with the agreed service levels
  • evaluation, adaptation and optimisation of existing service level agreements

Even though service level management is the responsibility of the IT service provider, the cooperation of the customer is indispensable, especially at the beginning. The customer must describe the business processes from his perspective as precisely as possible and clearly state which IT services (hardware and software, services, personnel, etc.) are specifically required. The customer must also create the necessary conditions for implementing and using IT services (e.g. through company agreements, training, internal coordination, etc.). Once SLM has been introduced, there should be regular meetings (at least in the start-up phase) for coordination. Likewise, the client must inform the IT service provider in good time of any relevant changes in his company that affect the implementation of IT services.

What are the advantages of SLM?

Service Level Management offers six key benefits, which we present to you in more detail here:

1. customer satisfaction
The development and definition of Service Level Agreements ensures that the customer accurately states their requirements and expectations in relation to IT services. This provides important transparency and makes it possible to measure services and costs precisely and evaluate them objectively. If the agreed goals are demonstrably achieved, this increases customer satisfaction - and if not, targeted measures can be introduced to remedy any shortcomings.

2. expectation management
The expectations and requirements of the customer and the IT service can be precisely documented through SLAs. This creates clarity and security. It also ensures that new requirements are reviewed in a controlled process and renegotiated if necessary.

3. monitoring and controlling IT resources
Through active management and the installation of regular reporting, IT resources can be controlled and regulated more easily and precisely. Additional or changed needs are recognised earlier, investments or disinvestments can be made based on demand.

4. marketing support
Consistently high IT service quality is a strong marketing argument that can be used both for the acquisition of new customers and for negotiations with existing customers. The objective presentation of services (e.g. response times, system availability) makes discussions about IT services and costs more objective.

5. Cost certainty
By agreeing on SLAs, current and future needs can be determined much more precisely, thus limiting costs. Without a functioning SLM, neither technical nor human resources in IT can be planned accurately, leading to either under-resourcing (which is detrimental to customer satisfaction and quality) or under-utilisation (which unnecessarily increases costs).

6. risk minimisation
The clear definition of IT services in an SLA and the concrete task packages derived from it for the IT resources involved reduce the risk of individual tasks being forgotten or overlooked. In addition, regular reporting and the use of KPIs as early warning indicators make it possible to react quickly to irregularities and remedy them.

How can service level management be mapped with EcholoN?

SLM is a core component of EcholoN and is therefore available in all editions. It is based on contract management, on which the so-called service level agreements are then based. The individual agreements can then be defined via service catalogues with the specific services.

The basis is the EcholoN Ticket System with knowledge database and the Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB). Both are already included in the EcholoN Express Edition. In the CMDB, all devices, systems and installations (with their parts master and spare parts) can be managed. All components are mapped with dependencies so that even complex IT services can be displayed with maximum transparency.

In the ticket system, all relevant information about a customer is available to the employee in the service or help desk. This includes, for example, open or closed tickets, contract management (SLA) or products. Customer enquiries can be recorded centrally, answered, forwarded to the specialist department or to a specific contact person. During ticket entry, all necessary parameters (e.g. priorities, schedule, SLA, etc.) as well as keywords can be recorded and later evaluated at any time.

For less complex requirements, a service portal with selfhelp can be set up for customers with EcholoN. There it is possible, for example, to store FAQs that the customer can view himself. This relieves the support staff of time.

Since all enquiries and messages are booked centrally in the ticket system, the services provided can be billed reliably and at the push of a button. This also includes the mapping, administration and implementation of the service level agreements agreed with the customer, which are directly linked to the contact in the ticket system, as well as open and completed tickets and products. All billing-relevant information on resources used (time, personnel, material) is fully available in EcholoN, which simplifies, accelerates and makes billing more secure.

Field service management, i.e. the field staff on site at the customer, is also optimally supported by SLM with EcholoN, both for commissioning and maintenance as well as for repairs: travel and order times as well as material consumption are booked directly when the service is provided and summarised transparently in a digital service report. This is possible both on- and offline, thanks to the EcholoN app (for iOS, Android). The subsequent, time-consuming and error-prone recording or transfer of paper into the system is thus completely eliminated - the full service report is already available in the system when the field service is still on its way back. Important information can be automatically transferred to the connected internal knowledge database so that it can be accessed during later assignments.

 

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