This documentation supports the 21.3 version of BMC Service Level Management.

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Identifying business needs

Implementing a top-down approach requires understanding the needs of the business and your customers first. This information provides a good foundation that you can use when negotiating with service suppliers, including your IT department, in delivering a valuable business service that is within your budget. The questions in this table can be used as a guideline to prompt discussion between all parties involved.

The following table shows the guidelines for identifying your business needs:

Guidelines for identifying your business needs

Business needs


Business goals

What does your company want to accomplish with service level management? Mapping IT services to vital business functions allows IT to clearly identify what ITIL calls vital business functions and their relationships to IT. By mapping these dependencies, IT can more effectively prioritize activities that support mission-critical business functions, and focus on adding value to what is most important to the business. IT can also improve its value to the business by being directly involved in the development of new solutions that support vital business functions. In this way, IT can move beyond simply responding to the needs of the business, and delivering IT services per agreed service levels. IT can move to a higher value-add function of jointly planning competitive business initiatives that rely on IT service and support.

Business information

What are the organization's current and future business strategy and financial plans? Current and forward-looking business strategy can best be understood by gaining access to the application or individuals that manage project and service portfolios along with insight from key executive management. The portfolios provide a time continuum for each business service and their respective service offerings, detailing what's currently available and possible areas of growth or contraction. Executive management can provide strong indications about which path the company is most likely pursue given current economic conditions and financial backing. This high-level information is extremely valuable when sizing the needs and amount of energy required to adequately manage service level. Typical questions that need to be asked include:

  • What markets do your current and future business services focus on?
  • What level of growth or contraction in business services are expected over the next three to five years?
  • What risks might alter your business strategy, and what is the likelihood of these risks interfering with your plans?
  • How much of an increase or decrease in budget is expected to bring new business services or service offerings to market?
  • How much of an increase or decrease in IT spending is expected?
  • What is your company's critical success factors?

Business practices

What are the current and future business practices? When aligning service offerings with prospective users it is important to understand how well you are delivering and supporting services relative to other options. Most companies would prefer to have an IT department that would manage these activities. However, this might not always be the case. This is especially true when conducting business over the internet where internet providers are certain to be involved to some degree. As a continuation of the document you created, respond to the following questions:

  • What are your customers current and future needs?
  • Will internal or external resources provide these services?
  • What level of staff is required to provide these services?
  • Do we have the expertise to provide these services?
  • What levels of service can I offer?
  • What are the financial implications of the service offering?

Business service offerings

What type of business services and service offerings are available today and expected in the future? In many cases, the investigation carried out in the previous sections makes gathering information about business services and their service offerings an easy task. Every business service has at least one service offering. See Identifying business services and service offerings to see how service offerings can differ from one another. If your company provides both internal and external services, you'll normally want to list the two separately. For most companies external services generate revenue, whereas internal services support the various functions required by the business and are seen as cost centers. If you don't maintain your business services in a service portfolio application, it is usually best to create a spreadsheet or similar document that can contain the information you collect. When your lists are complete, prioritize each service offering based on its relative importance to the company. A general rule is that in each list no two service offerings should have the same priority. This exercise really makes you weigh the importance of one service offering over the other. The columns of each list should include the following items:

  • Business service and related service offerings
  • Priority ranking
  • Actual gross and net revenue
  • User communities or customers
  • Number of users or customers
  • Business hours

Business resources

What resources are available to plan, build, maintain, and improve the service level management? Your IT organization needs to determine the proper staffing levels for the service level management implementation. Roles, tasks, and responsibilities need defining. Consider three perspectives: the IT provider, the IT customer, and the number of actual users.

Level of IT service

What level of IT service does your business provide? Business services and their individual service offerings can be delivered and supported through a combination of service suppliers. A service supplier can be an internal IT department dedicated to your organization's services, or shared across many organizations within a company or a third party vendor. From one service offering to another, the user communities might have similar needs or needs that are vastly different. Identify how you plan to support each service offering and what your own IT department can or cannot deliver. ITIL v3 defines three levels of IT service providers.

  • Type I service provider— Internal service provider that is embedded within a business unit. There can be several Type I service providers within an organization.
  • Type II service provider—Internal service provider that provides shared IT services to more than one business unit.
  • Type III service provider—Service provider that provides IT services to external customers.

Where to go from here

Identifying business services and service offerings

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