Service Level Management

ASM Core's SLM functionality allows you to create and monitor Service Level Agreements, Operational Level Agreements and Underpinning Contracts.

What is Service Level Management (SLM)?

Service Level Management (SLM) is a process in IT Service Management (ITSM) that involves defining, documenting, and managing the levels of IT services provided to ensure they meet the expectations of the customer. It encompasses creating and managing Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Operational Level Agreements (OLAs), and Underpinning Contracts (UCs) to guarantee service quality and reliability.

SLM is conducted to establish clear, measurable parameters around service delivery, ensuring that IT services are aligned with the business objectives and the needs of the users. By clearly defining service levels, both service providers and users have a common understanding of the service expectations, including scope, quality, and responsibilities.

  • Clarity and Accountability: SLM ensures that all parties involved—whether internal departments or external suppliers—understand their roles and responsibilities in delivering the service.

  • Performance Measurement: It provides a framework for measuring service performance, enabling the identification of areas for improvement.

  • Customer Satisfaction: By meeting or exceeding the service levels agreed upon in SLAs, customer satisfaction is improved, contributing to better business outcomes.

What Are The Benefits?

  • Enhanced Service Quality: Regular monitoring and management of service levels lead to continual service improvement.

  • Improved Customer Relationships: Clear agreements and reliable service delivery build trust and strengthen customer relationships.

  • Cost Efficiency: SLM can help identify over-provisioned services, enabling resources to be allocated more efficiently.

  • Proactive Problem Management: The escalation mechanisms within SLM enable early detection and resolution of issues before they impact the business.

  • Compliance and Risk Management: Documenting and adhering to agreed service levels help ensure regulatory compliance and mitigate risks associated with service delivery failures.

Types of SLM Agreements in ITIL

1. Service Level Agreement (SLA)

A formal document that defines the level of service expected by a customer from a supplier, laying out the metrics by which that service is measured, and the remedies or penalties, if any, should agreed-upon levels not be achieved. It typically covers aspects such as uptime, performance, and customer support commitments.

2. Operational Level Agreement (OLA)

An agreement between an IT service provider and another part of the same organization that assists with the provision of services. The OLA defines the goods or services to be provided and the responsibilities of both parties in the delivery of that service. It supports the IT service provider's delivery of SLAs.

3. Underpinning Contract (UC)

A contract with an external supplier covering all the goods or services needed to support the IT service provider's delivery of services to customers. The UC ensures that the external supplier meets the agreed-upon standards which are necessary for the IT service provider to achieve its SLAs with customers.

Service Level Agreements (SLA) are the Backbone

While standard OLAs, SLAs, and UCs provide a firm foundation for managing service levels within an ITIL framework, the complexity of today's IT ecosystems often necessitates a more nuanced approach. By considering the addition of specialized agreements and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, organizations can ensure their service management processes not only meet current needs but are also primed to adapt to future challenges and opportunities.

Adopting these practices enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, leading to higher customer satisfaction, stronger partnerships, and a competitive edge in the fast-paced world of IT services.

Service Level Management (SLM) is a fundamental principle in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework, aimed at enhancing the quality and consistency of IT services. At the heart of SLM lie Service Level Agreements (SLAs), critical tools for defining, managing, and measuring the performance of these services. Understanding SLAs, their types, and how they fit into ITIL is crucial for any organization looking to improve its IT service management capabilities.

What is a Service Level Agreement?

An SLA is a formal document that outlines the specific services to be delivered by a service provider to a client. It details the expectations, responsibilities, performance metrics, and penalties related to service standards. SLAs serve as a binding agreement between service providers and their customers or between two departments within an organization, ensuring clarity and accountability.

Types of Service Level Agreements

SLAs can vary greatly depending on the services being provided and the requirements of the parties involved. However, they generally fall into three main categories:

  1. Customer-based SLA: This type focuses on the services provided to an individual customer or department. It is tailored to the specific needs of that customer and covers all services they utilize.

  2. Service-based SLA: These are standardized SLAs that apply to all customers using a particular service. They offer a uniform approach, ensuring consistency in service delivery for all users of that service.

  3. Multi-level SLA: This structure divides the SLA into different levels, each addressing a specific group of users, services, or locations. It allows for a more flexible and detailed approach, accommodating the needs of various stakeholders more efficiently.

SLAs in the ITIL Framework

Within ITIL, SLAs are integral to Service Level Management, one of the key processes in the Service Design stage of the ITIL Service Lifecycle. They enable organizations to:

  • Define clear service quality benchmarks and expectations.

  • Measure and monitor service performance effectively.

  • Enhance customer satisfaction by meeting or exceeding service expectations.

  • Drive continuous improvement in service provision.

Furthermore, SLAs support other ITIL processes by providing a clear framework for incident and problem management, capacity management, and continuous service improvement activities. They provide:

  • Clarity and Accountability: SLAs ensure all parties understand their roles and responsibilities in the service delivery process.

  • Performance Measurement: By setting clear performance metrics, SLAs allow service providers to monitor and improve their service offerings.

  • Customer Satisfaction: Meeting SLA commitments leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, which are critical for business success.

SLAs play a crucial role in the effective management and delivery of IT services. By establishing clear expectations and commitments, SLAs under the ITIL framework help organizations achieve higher service quality, operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

Ensuring a successful implementation and ongoing management of SLM agreements requires a disciplined approach, not only during the setup but throughout the entire lifecycle of the service. Here are steps for effectively managing and enhancing service level agreements:


Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are applicable to both calls and requests but not to component workflows. For example, you might have an agreement with your Users to respond to and fix PC service calls within a set timeframe.

SLAs can be linked to Service Levels, or configured to be applied based on individual Users, config items, organizations, locations, or types.

Operational Level Agreements (OLAs)

OLAs are applicable to calls, tasks, and approvals. For example, you might have an agreement that states that Third Level Support will resolve technical issues sent to them from the service desk within a certain amount of time.

Underpinning Contracts (UCs)

UCs are applicable to calls, tasks, and approvals. For example, you might have an agreement with a hardware supplier that they will deliver computers or parts within a certain number of days from when they are ordered.


Part of SLM is the definition of escalation and breach types, and creation of matrices to define when calls are escalated.

Escalation causes alarms to be activated when a call or request has not been actioned or closed within the required period of time. The call or request escalates to one or more analysts and appears on their Calls or Requests Outstanding window (providing the relevant escalation options have been selected).

After a certain amount of time (longer than the escalation time), the service agreement is said to be “breached”. In this case, financial penalties may apply, depending on the particular agreements and relationships you have set up. Escalations are designed to prevent these agreement breaches by warning analysts that the maximum time permitted by the agreement is approaching.

The periods of time in which you require calls to escalate are based upon matrices that you set up.

Escalation and Agreement Breaches in ASM Core

Escalation Process

  • Configuration in Agreement Details: Escalation recipients for specific agreements are set in the Agreement Details window.

  • Based on Call Type: If escalation depends on the call type, it involves escalating to an analyst linked to the selected type in the Call Details window.

  • Recipient Selection: Escalation can be directed towards specific analysts or groups based on the issue type or the agreement applied.

Custom Escalation

  • Different CMDB Items: Query if there's a need to escalate different CMDB items at varied times.

  • Varied Escalation Times: Consider if escalations should occur at different times for calls and requests involving various configuration items, users, or organizations.

  • Timed Escalations: ASM Core can be set to escalate calls, requests, and tasks not actioned or resolved within a preset timeframe.

Breaches and Penalties

  • Escalation Timelines: Calls must escalate within set periods, determined by matrices.

  • Service Agreement Breaches: If service agreements are breached (not resolved within a set time longer than the escalation period), financial penalties may apply.

  • Prevention Mechanism: Escalations act as warnings to prevent agreement breaches by notifying analysts before the maximum permitted time is exceeded.

Notifications and Alarms

  • Once the required action or resolution period for a call or request exceeds, escalations trigger alarms. The escalated items appear in the analysts' Calls or Requests Outstanding window, subject to the chosen escalation options.

SLM Role

  • Part of Service Level Management (SLM) involves defining escalation and breach types and creating matrices to manage when and how escalations happen.

Setting Up Escalation

  • Choose the type(s) of escalation you want to set up on the Service Level Management Settings window.

  • To enable email, pager or internal messages to be sent when calls or requests escalate, select messaging options on the Messaging window.

  • Set up your escalation types by selecting the fields on which call and workflow escalations are based. You can define escalations to be based on fields such as service, type, configuration item, organization, location, or workflow template.

  • Create matrices for the calculation of escalation and breach times.

  • If you are using service levels, assign them to Users, organizations and CMDB items.

  • Nominate escalation recipients for individual analysts or link recipients to the current analyst, the analyst a call or request is assigned to, the call or request type and/or the agreement itself.

Service Level Management Administration Menu Options

The Service Level Management (SLM) tab in the Administration module enables you to configure settings for agreements that are applicable to calls, requests, tasks, and approvals. The following options are available for configuring your system:

SLM Settings

Provides global settings for Service Level Management.

Agreement Attributes

Enables you to create attribute categories for agreements, to which values can then be set when you create agreements.

Agreement Selection Priority

Enables you to select IPK and workflow fields that can be used to apply agreements to calls, requests or tasks

CMDB Selection Priority

Enables you to select CMDB fields that can be used to apply agreements to calls, requests or tasks

Agreement Stakeholder Roles

Enables you to create stakeholder roles for SLM.

Agreement Statuses

Enables you to define status levels for agreements.

Exclusion Reasons

Enables you to define exclusion reasons for agreements.

Agreement Types

Enables you to define multiple agreement types and associate them with one of the three core types: SLA, OLA or UC.

Event Activity Types

Enables you to rename SLM event types.

Matrix Definition

Enables you to create agreement matrices that are used to calculate escalation and breach times.

Measurement Types

Enables you to define measurement types for agreements.

Payment Types

Enables you to define payment modes for agreements.

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