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Tech-centric vs Customer-centric Service Levels

By Mike Marzullo, HP Applications Consultant

Are you getting the most out of your service provider?


T F.jpgHere are the correct answers!

True: All outsourcing contracts are governed by a contract

True:  A set of service performance metrics are a part of the contract

False: Proper service performance metrics ensure service quality


Not so. According to a recent Alsbridge report, true service quality can be compromised if service performance metrics are not properly aligned with SLAs that are focused on customer business processes. The tendency has been to focus a contract on the specific technology group performance metrics that apply to the service provider.


I couldn’t agree more, Alsbridge.  When working with our clients we often encounter 2 scenarios:

1.  Alignment between service level measures and expected business outcomes isn’t there.

2.  Synchronization of objectives between the service providers across the IT stack isn’t happening.


Let’s talk about that first scenario for a second.  So how do you go about building business service levels (BSLs)?


We start with the components that make up the service level.  They include seven areas that are defined for each service level.  Some of the areas will look familiar, as they are also used in the traditional, operational IT service levels… things like the measurement period, measurement definition and acceptable percentages.


But some of the areas are a little different than what you would expect in an operational service level (OSL).  These components are tied specifically to the business outcomes… service measures, measurement times and correction windows are tied specifically to the requirement of the business. And while most OSLs include provisions for low volume, the BSLs identify circumstances for non-performance to expand that concept to include other acceptable events that would be recognized because of the end-to-end nature of the service level.


1.  Service Measure – to determine the process that is to be measured, in business terms

2.  Measurement Times – to identify what the business needs and when it is needed

3.  Correction Window – to figure out how much time can be spared for recovery before there is business impact

4.  Measurement Period – to document the frequency of the evaluation

5.  Measurement Definitions – to gain consensus on what is a success and what is a miss, then build KPI calculations

6.  Acceptable Percentages – to determine what percentage of success contributes performance below, at, or above expectations for a measurement period

7.  Circumstances for Non-Performance – to document any reasons in which a miss would not be counted in the acceptable percentages


Remember that second scenario we found...the lack of synchronizing objectives across providers?  Well, BSLs can also help there too.  Because of the end-to-end nature of service level measures, and because the BSL is measuring the business outcome as opposed to the IT-provider performance, the KPI can represent a measurement across the entire IT stack, including other providers.


Business Service Levels can help you transform your organization… enabling you to align IT to the business objectives and implement shared success measures with the capability to systematically measure, monitor, track, report, and continuously improve them. And once you start aligning service performance to business outcomes, you’ll have transparency into how IT supports the business process so that both sides can begin to realize significant benefits. 


You can begin to manage the environment by objective, measure the things that matter, and invest in the right areas.


Learn more

Visit the HP Applications Management Services page.


Nadhan | ‎01-13-2012 12:19 AM

Mike, This is a well-timed, eye-opening perspective on the critical need to align service levels with business outcomes when managing applications.  Such a mind-set will defenitely facilitate flipping the 80/20 Innovation/Maintenance Spending Trap

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