Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
Resources, Best Practices, and Solutions for ITSM Pros

Fundamental Tips for Starting SLAs in ITSM

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At Cherwell we work with a lot of organizations embarking on IT service management improvement projects. One question that comes up a lot is “where do we start with service level management?”

Let’s start at why you need service level agreements.

At the heart of almost every business relationship are expectations. They have to be set, managed, and met or exceeded. SLM is all about setting healthy expectations. When expectations are not set correctly, you get challenges. Your employees and customers don’t know what to expect when they submit an incident/ticket or service request. They are not sure how long to wait before someone gets back to them and when their issues will be resolved. That is when the frustration starts.

The goal of SLM is to maintain and improve on service quality through a constant cycle of agreeing, monitoring, reporting, and improving the current levels of service. It is focused on the business and maintaining the alignment between business and IT.

What do you do first?
One of the challenges is knowing where to start and what to do first. It can feel like you’re going round and round in circles. It’s quite overwhelming.

Crawl – Walk – Run
Don’t start with too many services. So often customers want to start with all services and map everything out at beginning. ITIL v3 is not a step by step methodology; it’s a process of continual maturity. It is important to understand that you can provide too many services upfront that can leave you lost in the weeds.

Look at Your Incidents
What are the most frequent issues coming into IT?  What are people struggling with? What are the break fixes we get?  What are people struggling with over and over again? Take that and extrapolate out what some of your services are.

Identify Critical Services
You can start off with just a few services; four would be good. It’s not important to have ALL your services outlined initially. This is a huge undertaking that encompasses so many services: database services, utility services, e mail, directory services, etc. Initially, people want to break down all software solutions, and the next thing you know, you have so many services, it’s overwhelming.

Another way to approach this is from the perspective of core business services. If you’re a shipping company, all the software and the stuff that deals with shipping is key to your business. Make sure you include these services in your first pass. Look at the core services we offer in IT as well as what your business needs as a core service.

With a simple but calculated approach, getting started doesn’t have to scary or overwhelming.

Check back tomorrow for part two of my service level management blog. I’ll discuss setting realistic time limits and measuring success.