Service Level Management

Service Level Management is the maintenance of systems, usually by a third party, to operate continuously at prearranged service levels. Large companies with critical technology often engage in Service Level Agreements to ensure that the technology is operated in a predictable fashion.


Many small companies are dependent on information technology but cannot afford a full time IT manager. This leads to depending on separate agencies to provide piecemeal changes and upgrades to their IT. This in turn leads toward decreasing integrity with lower service levels. This happens when different technicians independently upgrade a system over time without a cohesive plan.


A solution has two distinct phases. The first phase is all the effort needed to make the existing system maintainable. The first phase though under the umbrella of a service level management proposal does not really fit inside a service level agreement. This is because the nature of change to make a system manageable may be quite ambitious. It is also not responsible to ask an agent to maintain the performance of a system at a given level when it has never achieved that level. Time and materials arrangements according to a statement of work or work breakdown structure may be in order.

The second and subsequent phases keep the system operating while it is in continuous or at least periodic development.


A Service Level Agreement is a commitment to maintain a system in a condition where it performs at a specified level. This requires client investment and service provider management to maintain the equipment such that it operates at a specified level. Each type of system has specific performance requirements. For example; an airline reservation system must be guaranteed to handle a certain number of transactions per second. A telephone system must ensure that customers are able to place calls and do not receive busy signals above a specified level.

The Client Role

The client needs a system to operate in such a way that his company can be competitive. The client must make regular investments in technology and services so that their IT has the capability to meet stated objectives. For example; as competition increases and applications are upgraded to include new capabilities using more system resources, hardware must be upgraded in a coordinated fashion or the system will fail its SLA.

The Service Level Provider Role

The service level provider manages the rate of introduction of service level management into the client business so as to not overwhelm the customer with measurement and reporting tasks. It must periodically analyze the system architecture and provide and or implement upgrades to it so that the system continues to meet specific performance levels.

Service Level Management Program

A service level management program begins with the Service Level Management Proposal. This document identifies the overall outline of a Service Level Management program or relationship. It has an attached Service Level Agreement which specifies the precise measures to be maintained. There are several phases of a service level management program;

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