Implementing The (SLM) Process

Implementing The (SLM) Process


When planning activities have been completed, the following activities must be undertaken to implement SLM.

Produce a Service Catalogue: Over the years, organisations IT Infrastructure have grown and developed, and there may not be a clear picture of all the services currently being provided and the Customers of each. In order to establish an accurate picture, it is recommended that an IT Service Catalogue is produced. Such a catalog is produced.

Such a catalog should list all of the services being provided, a summary of their characteristics and details of the Customers and maintainers of each. A degree of “Detective Work” may be needed to compile this list and agree on it with the customers, looking at procurement records and talking with suppliers and contractors etc). If a CMDB or any sort of asset database exists, there may be a valuable source information. 

Service Desk Incident records are a good pointer to those old systems that everyone else but the User has forgotten about.

What is a service?: This question is not as easy to answer as it may first appear, and many organizations have failed to come up with a clear definition in an IT context. IT staff often confuse a ‘service’ as perceived by the Customer with an IT system. In many cases, one ‘services’ can be made up of other ‘services’ (and so on) which are themselves made up of one or more IT systems within an overall Infrastructure including operations, networks, applications, etc. A good starting point is often to ask Customers which IT Services they use and how those services map onto their business processes. Customers often have a greater clarity of what they believe a service to be.

One possible definition may be: One or more IT systems which enable a business process’. To avoid confusion, it may be a good idea to define a hierarchy of services within the Service Catalogue, by qualifying exactly what type of service is meant e.g. business (that which is seen by the customer), Infrastructure services, network service, application service (all invisible to the Customer – but essential to the delivery of Customer services).

When completed, the catalog may initially consist of a matrix, table or spreadsheet. Some organisations integrate and maintain their Service Catalogue as part of their Configuration Management Database (CMDB). By defining each service as a Configuration item (CI) and, where appropriate, relating these to form a service hierarchy, the organisation is able to relate events such as Incidents and RFCs to the services affected, thus providing the basis for service monitoring via an integrated tool (e.g ‘list or give the number of Incidents affecting this particular service’). This can work well and is recommended.

The Service Catalogue can also be used for other Service Management purposes (e.g. for performing a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) as part of IT Service Continuity Planning, or as a starting place for Workload Management, part of Capacity Management). The cost and effort of producing the catalog are therefore easily justifiable. If done in conjunction with prioritization of the BIA, then it is possible to ensure that the most important services are covered first.

Expectation Management: From the outset, it is wise to try and manage Customers’ expectations. This means setting proper expectations in the first place and putting a systematic process in place to manage expectations going forward, as satisfaction = expectation – perception. SLAs are just documented and in themselves do not materially alter the quality of service being provided (though they may affect behavior and help engender an appropriate service culture, which can have an immediate beneficial effect, and make longer-term improvements possible). A degree of patience is therefore needed and should be built into expectations.

Where charges are being for the services provided, this should Customer demands (Customers can have whatever they can cost justify – providing it fits within agreed corporate strategy – and have authorized budget for, but no more!). Where direct charges are not made, the support of senior business managers should be enlisted to ensure that excessive or unrealistic demands are not placed on the IT provider by any individual Customer group.


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Kate Hamblin

Senior ITSM Consultant +44 0118 324 0620