Meeting Format

The Operations Review can be a real or virtual meeting. As long as all the right attendees have the ability to participate and the correct information can be shared, there is no reason for the review to have a specific format. However, since the meeting is a key business control point within the IT service delivery cycle, it is essential that the IT organization have the technology to deliver a virtual meeting if that is the format chosen.

The Operations Review is a standard and recurring meeting that needs to be scheduled in advance. It is recommended that the Operations Reviews for the forthcoming financial period be scheduled at the beginning of that period in a standard location that allows all attendees to proactively make the necessary arrangements to ensure regular attendance.

The meeting is owned by the operations-management competency leader; this person is normally a second- or third-line manager who has a number of IT technical functions within the operations structure reporting to him or her. This individual will have responsibility for scheduling the meeting, documenting it, and managing any issues related to the meeting, including lack of attendance or performance of key attendees. It is anticipated that the owner of this meeting will make use of administrative support to assist with some of these tasks, but this does not remove any of the accountability or responsibility from him or her.

The Operations Review meeting is meant to be as short and effective as possible since most of the attendees are senior members of the business whose availability is limited and extremely valuable. The meeting should limit discussion of issues; instead, the preferred approach would be to document the issues and assign an action owner within the meeting to deal with the item during the coming measurement period and to provide feedback at the next meeting. Depending on the priority and urgency of the issue, feedback need not wait until the next scheduled Operations Review-an as-needed meeting with the interested parties can be called in the interim to manage the situation accordingly.

Meeting Agenda

The following is the suggested agenda for an Operations Review.

Review of the Previous Period

This is the time elapsed since the last review meeting and will require that all outstanding items be reviewed including:

  • Review the previous meeting's minutes and actions. The first item on the agenda should be to review the previous minutes to verify that all documented actions have been executed and the desired results achieved. Discussion among participants must be limited at all times to ensure the meeting achieves its objectives within the meeting time frame.
  • Review the previous risk register. Because the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) advocates the ongoing review of risks, it is appropriate that operational risks be reviewed in this forum with senior management in attendance. It is recommended that the risk register be reviewed early on in the meeting since there is often a tendency to overlook it when time constraints exist. This undermines the importance of risk management, and the organization will not derive the benefits associated with proactive risk management. Further information is contained in the MOF Risk Management Discipline for Operations white paper available at Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF).

Performance Against the Balanced Scorecard for the Current Measurement Period

Performance is normally measured on a monthly basis, which is consistent with other business measurement periods. As mentioned previously, it is not enough for the Operations Review to only measure against the service delivery indicators defined in the OLA. It also needs to look at other indicators that have directly contributed to the performance delivered and will have an ongoing influence on future performance. It is recommended that operations use the balanced scorecard concept, which was developed in the early 1990s.

As mentioned previously, the balanced scorecard concept suggests that the success and the state of an organization can be best assessed by taking a "balanced" view across a range of performance measures. At the very heart of the balanced scorecard method is the belief that organizational success can best be achieved and measured when viewed objectively from four perspectives:

  • Financial - How will we look to our stakeholders?
  • Customer - How must we look to our customers?
  • Internal - At what internal processes must we excel?
  • Innovation - How can the organization learn and improve?
Microsoft has produced a white paper describing its approach to developing and implementing a balanced scorecard for enterprise performance management. It presents basic information on the Balanced Scorecard performance-management methodology and identifies key business issues that must be addressed in developing and deploying a balanced scorecard. The paper then presents the Microsoft Balanced Scorecard Framework (BSCF)-a comprehensive set of techniques, tools, and best practices to speed scorecard implementation using toolsets with which organizations are familiar. The white paper is available at Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.

Guidance on the various types of metrics that can be included to give a more holistic or balanced view of the operations organization is contained in the "Team Lead Confirms Inputs" section of Prepare for the Operations Review.

The performance reports should have been previously distributed to all participants so that the attendees have prepared questions and feedback as appropriate. The owner of the meeting will go through each delivery team's performance metrics. This person will also allow the attendees to ask questions or address issues involving lack of performance or significant variance against expected levels. In the event of major system incidents or major service noncompliance, the team should have been party to the documentation of those events and can elect to discuss and approve any recommended actions contained therein.

It is important to allow each team to present relevant measurements in a manner that is positive and does not foster a culture of blame. In addition, as mentioned in the Required Inputs section earlier in this document, each team should present a snapshot of its performance in a single slide to give a quick but effective visual idea of its individual business.

Ultimately the review should culminate in an agreement between the service managers and operations managers on what actions need to be taken to improve services to the customer. These actions do not necessarily mean changes to the technology; they may also include changes to the way the technology is measured or how it is delivered. It may be found that there are areas of high staff attrition in one service delivery team that have accounted for a drop in service performance levels. The appropriate action in this case will not be to change the performance level in the SLA or OLA but to call on workforce management-a related SMF in the MOF Optimizing Quadrant-to find a suitable resolution to the problem.

Often there is a direct conflict between the perceived service and the actual service delivered. In this case, it is the perception that needs to be addressed and not the service itself.

Any decisions taken or actions identified and assigned must be formally documented by the meeting owner for review in the next meeting. Actions may include the following:

  • Immediate service improvement actions. These may include the establishment of a task force to deal with critical non-performance issues related to service.
  • Approval to proceed with a formal request for change to modify one of the configuration items (CIs) associated with the delivered service, including:
    • OLA change
    • SLA change
    • Technical change
    • Procedural change
    • Resource change

Next Period

The next period should be previewed in the Operations Review to ensure operations management is prepared for any changes that will have a crucial impact on future delivery of services. These changes include:

  • Forthcoming changes that may affect the service.
  • Forthcoming projects that may affect the service.
  • Changes in contact details for the forthcoming period-for example, in the case of escalation.
  • Changes to demand for specific services in the forthcoming period that may require scheduled overtime or other arrangements.
  • The date of the next review meeting.


The Operations Review may produce a variety of deliverables. However, the key deliverable that should be a product of every review is a document detailing the minutes and associated actions from the review. The minutes of the review should document any progress measured against the actions and, if possible, successful closure of the actions, with the desired outcome of improvement to the service. For examples of templates containing OMR minutes and action items, see Operations Templates. These templates can be adapted and used as pertinent to the Operations Review.

Other deliverables that may be a product of the review can include:

  • Request for changes to the OLA document.
  • Request for changes to the IT service solutions and/or service components including but not limited to changes to systems management tools.
  • Configuration changes to underlying technology components including but not limited to:
    • Hardware upgrades and replacements.
    • Software upgrades and replacements.
    • Performance tuning.
  • Request for changes to the operational documentation contained in the corporate knowledge base.
  • Request for changes to resource structures.
  • Updates to the operations risk register.
  • Request to availability management to assist with the performance improvement of a service that is not being delivered as intended.