Selecting the Review Team Lead

The SLA Review team lead is usually a representative from the Support Role Cluster since this group's functions are the most "customer-facing" in the MOF Team Model and the SLA Review is a "customer-facing" review. Also, the Support Role Cluster's unique function ensures that it is deeply familiar with service levels, associated issues, and opportunities for improvement.

In some cases, IT management may choose a review team lead from outside the Support Role Cluster. A representative from the functional area in which the service solution is based (for example, Operations, Infrastructure) may be more appropriate in cases where he or she is in closer proximity to the users and services. If the organization employs an IT service manager-as prescribed by the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)-this person may have an advantage over the prior two alternatives in that the service manager stands "outside" the functional areas and is usually more objective.

Team Lead Sets Review Parameters

The basic review parameters include team members, review date, time, location, technology, and review scope. See Operations Templates for online templates, including an SLA Review Definition template.

Mandatory Attendees

The team lead selects the review team members. The attendees of the SLA Review must be of the right level in order to ensure that the meeting and actions that result from it are put into effect. If the attendees are not at a management level, they need to have management support at a high level to reinforce their actions. This management support prevents other work from receiving a higher priority than the delivery of improvements to the service.

The SLA is the interface between the business and IT and is the only real disclosure of expectation and agreement of demands upon the service. Therefore, the actions and requirements negotiated and agreed to during the review carry more weight than expectations stated outside the SLA Review or than informal communications between the service level manager and business manager.

Representatives from the business need to attend because it gives them the opportunity to find out what is happening in IT and to the delivery of their services. In addition, they can advise IT of their own expectations and objectives for the coming period, ask questions, raise issues, and create actions pertaining to SLA performance.

Representatives of the business should be familiar with the organization's business strategy and the operational priorities of their own and other areas. They should be at a level similar to the IT representative at the SLA Review and should have authority to speak to the other business and IT representatives in order to discuss the priorities of service provision in other business areas.

The SLA Review will need a team of representatives from all of the MOF role clusters to carry out the required tasks and activities. Further information about team roles is contained in the MOF Team Model for Operations document, available at the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF).

The following figure depicts the MOF Team Model role clusters and their associated functional roles.

There should be secondary representatives for IT and the business area who can be contacted as reserves for attendance at the SLA Review and at any potential informal service level discussions. The skill sets of these individuals should be the same as those who would normally attend. The contact details of all parties involved should be recorded in the SLA and, if required, in the service catalog and should be under change control.

Optional Attendees

Occasionally, in addition to the standard SLA Review attendees, there may be other representatives from both the IT and business organizations who need to be present. For example, a project might involve the rollout of a new or improved service, and the business or IT project managers may attend the SLA Review to discuss any potential effects that may result from their work. Or a specific technical issue might have caused a service to breach the SLA, and a subject matter expert (SME), who is able to explain in business terms what happened to the service, would need to be involved.

Other Review Parameters

Also, during this step, the SLA Review team lead:

  • Sets the date, time, nature, and length of the SLA Review meeting.
  • Selects and reserves the meeting technology and location, such as the physical meeting location, video conferencing, Microsoft NetMeeting conferencing software, teleconferencing, or some combination thereof. The team lead also obtains meeting supplies and equipment, such as a PC projection system and flipcharts.
  • Sets the scope of the review, that is, which service levels will be reviewed, which may be a subset of service levels associated with the service solution. Criteria for choosing which service levels are to be reviewed include:
    • Those that have not been consistently met.
    • Those that have required significantly more effort or investment to meet than planned.
    • Those where significant changes in the environment or the service solution itself have occurred or are anticipated.
    • Those with significant impact on service level achievement, on the business, or on customers and users.
  • Reviews "lessons learned," minutes, and action plans from previous SLA Reviews of the service solution or similar service solutions with particular attention paid to:
    • The status of committed action items from previous reviews of the service solution.
    • Trends in previous reviews.

SLA Review meetings are interval-based and will require a level of administration to reserve the meeting space, track the attendees' availability, produce the content for the meeting, and manage the minutes.

If SLA Review meetings are being conducted for various areas of the organization, it is important that these be scheduled so that the service level managers can attend and act on the decisions made in the meeting in the time between the reviews. It can be useful to stagger the periodic reviews over a month, rather than scheduling all of the review meetings near the beginning or end of the month.

Team Lead Sets Review Agenda

A written agenda often improves the effectiveness of a meeting. In this step, the review team lead modifies the agenda template where necessary, ensures that participants understand their particular role in the meeting, and assigns facilitative roles (such as minutes-taker and timekeeper).

The agenda must be accompanied by performance data on the latest associated SLA target metrics to be reviewed for those service levels associated with the service delivery mechanism. The latest target metrics must be used, since as-needed tuning of service levels may have occurred since original targets were established during development.

The service level manager should communicate the agenda well in advance to help attendees prepare for the meeting, allowing for optimized discussions during the review.

Team Lead Announces Meeting Details

In this step, the review team lead sends the meeting information to all review team members. This information includes:

  • The SLA Review Definition template, which outlines basic review parameters. See Operations Templates to access online SLA Review templates.
  • The meeting agenda.