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the IT Services catalog and Service Level Agreements (SLA's)

In case of an internal IT Provider there is often a discussion on 'service or services', the first being a perception of end-user on the quality of service and the latter being the perception of the IT provider of the delivered results of his activity. In case of sourcing of a service from an external provider this obstacle in the communication is not there because the Provider has an explicit 'Services catalog' in which all the offerings are described.

For many internal IT Providers this is the trigger for describing the 'Service catalog' and to agree with the internal customer on 'Service Level Agreements (SLA's), to make explicit, what can be expected.

IT Value chain 03

When describing a Services catalog it is important to think in re-usable Service Component of either 'supported product' or 'configurations' of services that can be combined. In an earlier article I already introduced the 'Hourglass model' and the required mangement attention:

Service catalogus 02With only a Services Catalog we are not there yet. We also need to write down an agreement with our (internal) Customer on the Service Delivery the so called 'Service Level Agreements (SLA's)' . Usually a SLA consists of a serie of documents that describe responsibilities and deliverables on three levels.

The 'Frame agreement' is the top level and describes general applicable topics, like the strategisc agreements, terminology used and standards. This frame agreement is applicable for the entire company.

The 'Service agreement' which contains all agreements on service delivery to a praticular part of the organization.

And eventually the 'Service Level Agreements (SLA's)' that decribe service delivery for a specific service.

The Services catalog and the Service Level Agreement contain the followingn data:

Service catalogus 01

When describing a Services catalog we can make use of the following criteria:

  Criteria for IT Services Description
1. Extent, content and applicability of the IT Service  
1.1 Based on enduser requirements and observable by the enduser The delivery of an IT Service must fit a specific requirement of the end-user. Development and definition can have taken place in the past, but the added value and the delivery must be observable by the end-user.
1.2 Clarity on the applicability of the Service:
* general applicability
* business support
* development support
An IT Service can be 'general purpose'. In that case the price/performance ratio will tend to be  'Commodity' and the price and unit of measure must be comparable with other providers of a similar service. For specific IT Services, either for the 'Day to Day Business' (the primary Business Process), or for the support of IT Service development processes, unit of measure must be in line with the way the service is used.
1.3 Recognizeable / repeatable results The deliverd result of an IT Service must be observable, recognizable and repeatable.
1.4 Unambiguous description (incl structure) An IT Service must have an unequivocally interpretable structure / construction. IT Service components can be re-used in multiple services and can be part of a higher order Service (configured services), however, the delivered (configured) IT Service must have an  unequivocally interpretable structure.
1.5 Market conformity An IT Service is an entity that is traded in an (internal or external) Marketplace where Demand and Supply are continuously balanced in a negotiation process. There must be demand for a service before there will be the first Provider. When there are more Providers for a particular service we can discuss 'Markt conformity'.
2. Measurability of the provided service  
2.1 Measurability of the volume An IT Service must 'orderable', 'planable', 'deleverable' and 'billable'. The (to be) delivered volume must be related to an end-user need and formulated in an agreed upon Unit of Measure.
2.2 Measurability of the service level for availability The level of availabilty of an IT Service to the Organization,
2.3 Measurability of the service level for availability and calamities The level of availabilty of an IT Service to the Organization during abnormal circumstances, such as natural disasters, fire, fall out of the communication infrastructure, etc.
2.4 Measurability of the service level for  performance The level of timeliness of IT Service delivery to the Organization.
2.5 Measurability of the service level for accessibility The level of availabilty of an IT Service to a defined group of end-users that have access rights to the service.
2.6 Measurability of the service level for problem management The level of availability of end-user support for the effective applicability of the services e.g. Helpdesk facilities.
2.7 Measurability of the service level for change management The level of expected change and the impact on the service delivery caused by e.g. the number of end-users, the geographical dispertion and/of changes in user requirements.
3. Quality perception  
3.1 Professionalism and Skills The customers realize that the service provider, its employees, operational systems, and physical resources, have the knowledge and skills required to solve their problems in a professional way (outcome related criteria).
3.2 Attitude and behavior The customers feel that the service employees (contact persons) are concerned about them and interested in solving their problems in a friendly and spontaneous way (process-related criteria).
3.3 Accessability & Flexibility The customers feel that the service provider, its location, operating hours, employees, and operational systems, are designed and operate so that it is easy to get access to the service and so that they are prepared to adjust to the demands and wishes of the customer in a flexible way (process-related criteria).
3.4 Reliability and trustworthyness The customers know that whatever takes place or has been agreed upon, they can rely on the service provider, its employees and systems, to keep promises and perform with the best interest of the customers at heart (process-related criteria).
3.5 Recovery The customers realize that whenever something goes wrong or something unpredictable unexpectedly happens the service provider will immediately and actively take actions to keep them in control of the situation and find a new, acceptable solution (process-related criteria).
3.6 Reputation and credibilaty The customers believe that the operations of the service provider can be trusted and gives adequate value for money, and that it stands for good performance and values which can be shared by customers and the service provider (image-related criteria).