Three Steps to demonstrate the Value of your IT Service

It is Monday morning 09:00 AM – and you are in your monthly IT Service Quality meeting with your “internal client” – the Sales Department of your company. The Head of Regional Sales is pushing you with unrealistic expectations – you have discussions about 99.999% availability where you already know that such a Service Level Objective is either horrendously expensive or probably also not attainable. You are on the defensive.

And you are thinking to yourself: “This is not the discussion I want to have – I want to instead show him the value that my IT department provides”.

Start this Value Conversation through a Service Level discussion by following these three steps:

  1. First help your client understand the service you offer in terms of Service Levels.
  2. Then, together design Service Level Objectives that aid their decision-making,
  3. And finally, aid them in fixing service level targets that they can afford.

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STEP #1. Does your client really understand the service you offer?

  • Does your business really understand the IT service that you are providing? Do you understand the direct correlation between your IT service and their business? Do they see the impact of what you do or provide on their business?
  • If not, help them first see this relevance. And in the process, you will develop a feeling for the aspects of the business that are important.
  • Feign from asking direct questions about what is important to them – you might not get the correct answer.
  • Instead quiz them more about how your service inter-meshes with what they do.
  • Their answers will bring out aspects that are important to them – is it timing, is it the impact of a downtime, is it availability, is it throughput at certain times of the year? Is it handling large volumes?
  • This constructive dialog will give you not just an understanding of your end-clients business, but also the aspects of your service that are important. Use Service Level Agreement Examples if this helps.
  • Derive your service level objectives from these aspects – this will help you to capture your mutual understanding of this relevance of your service and make this transparent to your client.

STEP #2. Can your client take decisions based on the Service Levels you measure?

  • You have come up with a set of service level objectives which directly measure the aspect of your service that is important to your client – now go to the next stage.
  • Discuss with them about how certain aspects drive business decisions
  • Lets say you are hosting a Sales Application, and the SLA on availability of the application is tantamount for sales closure.
  • Your discussion might show that availability of this application is critical as you approach Christmas. This is when they would want your application availability on full throttle.
  • But what about the rest of the year? Maybe keeping this application on full throttle high availability for the rest of the year is too expensive.
  • How can your SLA Definition help you decide what to do? What if you design a threshold level for your availability – so that falling below a certain level sets off a signal for both your client and you to take this to the next level of availability?
  • Don’t stop at just designing a service level and a target for the same – mutually decide with your end client on what happens when services fall below the minimum level.
  • There is a dual benefit – your client will see directly how to use and tune the service you offer via SLA Management, and you will be prepared beforehand about how to react and what to consider when certain levels are reached.

STEP #3. Help your client manage the Cost of Service.

  • If you have done the above two, you would both have a good mutual understanding about how service levels can be used to manage the service that you are providing.
  • Now steer your discussion towards the Cost of Quality. What is the balance of cost versus the quality of the service you provide?
  • Continuing the example of a hosted Sales Application: Lets say that the high availability of this application is only desired during the Christmas season.
  • You can now suggest that the SLA on availability of the application be reduced during the “idle” months by shutting down a few servers – and you would pass this cost benefit on to your client.
  • When the sales volumes increase, you could kick in the additional computing power.
  • This will help you define two levels of service for the two periods. And you could design the switch between the two levels of service based on a target threshold for your service.

The above three step process will help you have a fact-based quantitative dialog with your end client. You can demonstrate the relevance of your service quantitatively to your client through Service Levels, and also together decide on how this is measured and used.

And with this, you will have quantitatively established the added value that your IT adds to your business.

photo credit: Thorbard via photopin cc

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