Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Service Level Management is Mission-Critical for IT Service Providers

By: Len DiCostanzo, SVP and Dean of Autotask Academy

It's All About Expectations

At the heart of almost every business relationship are expectations... expectations that have to be set, managed and met or exceeded. When it comes to IT Services, your clients' expectations are going to revolve around the specific services you are delivering and the promises or claims that you make related to them.

Service Level Management is the process of setting benchmarks for service level performance, measuring that performance and ensuring compliance with your service goals and your customers' expectations. An effective Service Level Management system will not only ensure that your key targets for service success - response times, resolution plans and resolutions - are being met, it will also offer a process for expediting issues and tickets when your metrics are at risk of not being met.

With an Effective Service Level Management Program, IT Service Providers Can:
  • Improve service delivery and client satisfaction
  • Meet internal service delivery goals
  • Manage, analyze and report on performance metrics
  • Differentiate themselves from the competition and capture more business
What Needs to be Measured?

At the heart of any effective Service Level Management program is the definition and measurement over time of several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including:

Response Time
How long does it take to respond to an incident, such as a call from a customer, an email or an alert from a remote monitoring system that reveals a service or device may not be performing as expected?

Resolution Plan
How long does it take from the initial notification and response to formulate a plan to resolve the incident?

Resolution Time
How long did it take from the initial notification and response to actually implement the plan and restore service to normal levels?

By definition, many of the services offered by IT Service Providers are mission critical to the success of their clients' businesses. Therefore, each of these KPIs is important because they represent the vital points where the performance of your company is measured against the expectations of your client.

Evaluating Best-in-Class Service Level Management Tools

Service Level Management is such a critical part of your service delivery, it has moved from nice to have status to a must have requirement for IT service providers. And, by its very nature it needs to be completely integrated into your professional services automation software. When evaluating software to run your IT service business, you will want to make sure that it meets your internal and external Service Level Management requirements. For example, with Autotask you can:

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) by client

Easily define and monitor critical KPIs including response time, resolution plan and final resolution.

Set performance targets by priority, issue and sub-issue
Better manage your workflow and resources by setting response time based on priority, issue type and sub-issue type.

Customize service levels by business hours and after-hours support
Refine service levels by business hours, 24 hour and extended after-hours for individual clients.

Define workflow and escalation rules
Set due dates and time requirements according to specific resolution targets. Workflow engine rules will escalate at-risk items and notify you to ensure the resolution targets are met.

Integrate service tickets seamlessly
Track performance targets across your entire company, against specific client accounts, for different SLA contracts or on individual tickets.

Prioritize service targets in ticket search grids
Easily review and prioritize service tickets by Service Level Management rules and approaching deadlines.

Create custom LiveReports
Report on Service Level Management compliance and service ticket performance, it allows you to create custom client reports to analyze key performance indicators and continually improve their business.

Autotask Service Level Management is fully integrated within Autotask Pro and Autotask Go! and is included at no additional charge.

Visit our website to learn more about Service Level Management or to download the complete Service Level Management white paper.

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