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Exploring the ITIL 4 Practitioner: Service Level Management Practice

Posted by Marbenz Antonio on December 4, 2023

In the absence of service level management, service providers and their consumers typically experience a reliance on “best effort” in service delivery. This approach can lead to customer disappointment, as it often creates expectations based on exceptional service instances rather than a consistent standard.

Without clear service level agreements, customers may perceive a decline in service quality even when providers are doing their best. Simultaneously, service providers may set service standards based on payment structures, potentially leading to companies paying for services they don’t need or expecting services that providers cannot afford to deliver.

The latest update to the ITIL 4: Service Level Management Practice offers service management practitioners valuable insights and guidelines to address these challenges and establish effective service level agreements.

The SLA today

In the absence of service level management, service providers and their consumers typically experience a reliance on “best effort” in service delivery. This approach can lead to customer disappointment, as it often creates expectations based on exceptional service instances rather than a consistent standard.

Without clear service level agreements, customers may perceive a decline in service quality even when providers are doing their best. Simultaneously, service providers may set service standards based on payment structures, potentially leading to companies paying for services they don’t need or expecting services that providers cannot afford to deliver.

The latest update to the ITIL 4: Service Level Management Practice offers service management practitioners valuable insights and guidelines to address these challenges and establish effective service level agreements.

ITIL 4: Service Level Management Practice – utility, warranty, and experience

The update to ITIL 4’s Service Level Management practice emphasizes defining the context of the service level agreement (SLA), regardless of the specific circumstances. This highlights the importance of clearly setting expectations. In practical terms, this involves asking the following questions:

  • As an IT provider, it’s crucial to determine the level of service you offer. Understanding and managing customer expectations are key factors in delivering satisfaction, striking a balance between meeting needs effectively and avoiding the risk of setting unrealistic expectations labeled as “utmost.”
  • The range of optimal service delivery encompasses providing not only the agreed-upon service but occasionally going above and beyond to ensure customer loyalty. This could involve unexpected additions or gestures, like a restaurant offering a complimentary side dish as a taster to enhance the overall customer experience.
  • Tolerability regarding the agreed service level involves understanding that a slight dip, such as a 5% reduction, may be acceptable. Still, immediate rectification is necessary to transform a negative situation into a positive one. Similarly, surpassing the agreed level by 5-10% is acceptable, but exceeding this range becomes unsustainable and might arouse suspicion, as it could seem too good to be true.

The updated ITIL 4 practice also addresses the challenging aspect of experience-level management by prompting recipients to articulate what will enhance their satisfaction when utilizing a service. This input is then translated into manageable elements within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Therefore, the SLA must encompass:

  • What does the service do?
  • Does it perform how it’s supposed to?
  • What is the experience when used?

All three measures assess whether the SLA is successfully delivering the outcomes of utility, warranty, and experience.

Additionally, a new aspect introduced in the practice is demonstrating the utilization of the ITIL Maturity Model for measurement and enhancement of the capability of your practice.

The pivotal aspect of service level management is comprehending what your customer aims to accomplish. This ensures the definition and agreement of the right levels of service, delivering an appropriate and pertinent level of service to meet their requirements.

In conclusion, it’s essential to be realistic: set your level of service at what you can currently deliver and strive for continuous improvement in response to evolving customer needs.

 


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