This documentation supports the 22.1 version of BMC Service Level Management.

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Planning to implement BMC Service Level Management

To set the service levels, you need to understand the business needs, and objectives of your organization. You also need to identify the stakeholders of your organization and so on. 

You begin the process of managing your service levels by collecting important information about your business, your customers, and how you plan to support their services. Sample questions for information gathering about business, customers, and services are in Identifying business needs.

Gathering information up front helps to facilitate a successful deployment that can grow with your organization. Failure to have an understanding of your business model can lead to false starts, resulting in reduced productivity, cost overruns, and general discontent by both management and customers.

Taking a top-down approach to defining and organizing your business services information means you are thinking about managing service levels in business terms and not in IT terms. To begin applying the top-down approach, gather the following information and make use of a spreadsheet or service catalog application to organize data in a way that can be easily understood, accessed, and updated.

The following steps are a guideline to help you assemble  information and should not be considered an exhaustive list. A fictitious company, Calbro Services, is used to illustrate how you might respond to each of the steps in Use case - Calbro Services top-down approach to service level management.

The following table shows the steps that are required to gather the service level management information:

Steps to assemble service level management information

Step

Description

Research business goals

Articulate the nature of your business and all current and future business goals of your company or organization. This might be as simple as saying that your organization can provide four critical business services to internal departments within your company, and there is no plan to expand in the near future. More complex organizations might have a combination of internal and external business services supported by a geographically dispersed IT department and one or more outside vendors. Your current business might be small today, supporting a small number of business services. However, your long-term plans might include additional business services, each with two or more offerings. The key is to provide as much detail as possible and discuss it with upper management and business leaders to ensure you all agree. For more information see Identifying business needs.

Prepare a list of business services and service offerings.

After gathering information about your company's current and future business objectives, list the various services your organization plans to support. For more information see Identifying business services and service offerings.

Identify responsible parties

Now that you have an understanding of the more critical business services, the service offerings, the user communities, and those that support the services, it is important to identify the people responsible for representing these different groups. These individuals play a crucial role in the process and greatly increase the odds of success. For more information see Identifying responsible parties.

Identify existing contracts

Your company might have existing formal service contracts maintained in a financial management application, in a business owner's file cabinet, or informally written in a notebook. For more information, see Identifying contractual agreements for an example of information contained in a typical contractual agreement.

Identify service expectations and begin negotiations

Whether your organization has any service contracts in place, most business service users have an expectation as to the level of service they should be receiving and how the service should be supported. The business relationship manager must enter into a series of negotiations to determine what provides enough value to the customer at a cost that is acceptable to the business. For more information, see Evaluating service expectations.

Create a service catalog

A service catalog is a multifaceted tool that can be used by business owners, service suppliers, and users or customers providing a single source of consistent information about available services. A service catalog can be implemented through an application with a user interface, or something as simple as a spreadsheet. Users and customers of the business service use the service catalog to reference, and possibly subscribe to, an available business service offering. The IT department might use the service catalog to understand more about the expectations that have been set with service users and the obligations they might have to support the service. Information in the service catalog is written in business terms, indicating what it means to be compliant, rather than how compliance is measured. Service owners and business relationship managers have the most access to the information maintained in a service catalog. Individuals assigned the service owner role are responsible for defining business services and their associated service offerings, and service level targets (SLTs) in the service catalog. The business relationship manager role focus on customers and the contracts that link them to one or more service offering. For more information see Defining a service catalog.

Define agreements

With a service catalog populated with business services and service offerings, and service expectations negotiated, a service owner can begin defining the compliance targets, also known as agreements, between all parties. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are important to business owners, as these SLAs determine how well the business service is being delivered to the user communities, and how well the expectations are being met. SLAs must be well defined and understood before proceeding. Supporting the SLAs are Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) and sometimes Underpinning Contracts (UCs). These agreements are put in place as objectives that must be met by the IT department and any other service supplier. At this stage, the definition of SLAs, OLAs, and UCs must be written in terms that business owners and the user community can understand. For more information see Establishing agreements.

Assign Service Level Management roles

To achieve all the benefits of a service level management process as defined by ITIL, most medium and large-sized companies have a dedicated staff focused on these duties. The staff must work closely with the service owners and the service suppliers to ensure the appropriate measurements and compliance target information is captured and reported. Two key roles are integral in this process. For more information, see Service level manager role requirements and Service level administrator role requirements.

Define measurements that provide compliance

This first step is where the IT department and service suppliers engage in the top-down approach. The service level manager receives a clear understanding of the business service requirements from the service owners. In turn the service level manager works directly with the service delivery and service support representatives from the IT department, as well as any third party vendors, to instrument metrics and KPIs that translate back to the expectations defined earlier in the process. These measurements are then used to calculate the compliance on some aspect of a business service. After you have assembled the measurements and compliance definitions across all your business service offerings, you should consolidate the number of individual definitions. Successfully reducing the number of definitions down to only those required can result in less overhead and maintenance, as well as reducing the load on the BMC Service Level Management(Service Level Management) application. For more information, see Planning worksheets.

Define milestones and actions

A key objective of managing service levels is to meet the compliance targets defined for a business service. Various events can happen in a computing environment that might jeopardize the ability to maintain compliance or require decisions based on business needs. It is mandatory to get the right individuals or processes involved early in the cycle to ensure compliance is maintained. A set of milestones and associated actions must be defined in such a way as to provide enough time for the action to take effect. These milestones and actions can be put in place at both the agreement compliance level as well as the individual measurement level. For more information, see Planning worksheets.

Configure BMC Service Level Management

When you have a service catalog, a consolidated set of agreement and measurement definitions, milestones, actions, and a list of response parties, you can then input this information into the Service Level Management.

Best practice

We recommend that you set up Service Level Management in a test environment and run a rigorous series of tests before deploying in a production environment. Adequate testing should also be carried out for any changes you intend to make, to verify Service Level Management is indeed carrying out activities as expected. For more information see Planning worksheets.

Assigning access to real-time monitoring and scheduling reports

Service Level Management provides a series of dashboards for monitoring business service agreement compliance, service target goals and monetary impact costs, penalties and rewards. Information displayed in the dashboards can be filtered based on the business service or any number of criteria. In addition, Service Level Management delivers in-context, service level information directly to many of the data source applications, allowing the users of these applications to make time critical decisions in alignment with business objectives. A read-only, web-based dashboard can be assigned to user communities or business managers that only need to view the current status. Service Level Management also contains a set of predefined reports that service owners and service level managers can use to monitor activities related to the delivery and support of a business service. For more information, see Monitoring agreements and service targets.

Manage your Service Level Management environment

At this stage of the process, agreements and measurements are monitored automatically and periodic service level reports are generated and made available to the business owners. When agreement compliance or measurement goals are at risk or breached, automatic milestones are trigger resulting in actions ranging from notification to process execution. The staff use the Service Level Management dashboards as a means to track the status of agreement compliance and measurement goals, as well as identify problem trends that, might ultimately affect a business service. Service Level Management also delivers in-context service level information directly to several BMC Software service support and infrastructure monitoring solutions. For more information, see Monitoring agreements and service targets.

Evaluate business service improvements

The process of managing service levels is cyclical. Business objectives can change, and new business services and service offerings can be delivered while others are retired and others modified for improvement. Efficiencies might be discovered and unforeseen problems can arise. Striving for continual business service improvement requires periodic reviews and open communication between all parties. By definition, contracts and agreements have start dates and end dates. Critical stakeholders must be notified well in advance of an end date to discuss and agree on any changes that need to be implemented. For more information, see Reviewing your service agreements.

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