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Service delivery management process participants will vary from enterprise to enterprise. Here is a list of the more typical roles and their descriptions:
Sponsor — this is the executive leader of the business unit who ultimately approves the funding for the business unit's IT work under the SLA.
Working client — these business unit managers work alongside their IT services counterparts to define, develop, and deliver IT products and services to the business unit.
Customer relationship executive (CRE) — this IT executive is ultimately responsible for the satisfactory delivery of the IT commitments consolidated under the SLA.
IT finance — IT service's controller provides information during the SLA preparation process and reviews and approves all SLAs from a financial perspective to ensure that they align with the IT organization's overall commitment to the enterprise.
IT project and service team leaders — these parties, who are directly responsible for the delivery of products and services to working clients, coordinate the efforts of their respective teams and maintain ongoing communications with the working clients as required to ensure the quality of IT deliverables.
Project management office — as needed, the PMO assists CREs in the framing of SLAs and will partner with product and service teams in the development of the project plans, business requirements, functional specifications, and so forth.
Enterprise corporate management — together, these individuals ensure that, as part of the annual planning and IT funding approval processes, they review and approve the overall IT SLA process framework and its associated resource allocation model.
Even if the business unit accepts these role definitions, your partners may not appreciate their responsibilities as part of an SLA. Indeed, business unit leaders often look upon the SLA as a list of things that IT must do for them, rather than a mutually obligating agreement. Therefore, include within the SLA itself an explicit list of business unit responsibilities. The CRE must review these working assumptions with the business unit team as part of the initial SLA review, and if and when any of these business unit commitments becomes an issue. Here is an illustrative list of what the business unit sponsors and working clients might commit to as part of the SLA process:
Operating within the information technology funding allocations and funding process as defined by the enterprise's governance, planning, and budgeting processes
Working in close collaboration with a designated IT CRE to frame this SLA and to manage within its constraints once it is approved as part of the budget for the fiscal year
Collaborating throughout the life cycle of the project or process to ensure the ongoing clarity and delivery of business value in the outcomes of the IT effort, including direct participation in and ownership of the quality assurance acceptance process
Reviewing, understanding, and contributing to systems documentation, including project plans and training materials, and any IT project or service team communications, such as release memos
Throughout the life cycle of the process, evaluating and ultimately authorizing business applications to go into production
Distributing pertinent information to all associates within the business unit who utilize the products and services addressed in this SLA
Ensuring that business unit hardware and associated operating software meet or exceed the enterprise's minimum hardware and software standards
Reporting problems using the reporting procedure detailed in this SLA, including a clear description of the problem
Providing input on the quality and timeliness of service
Prioritizing work covered under this SLA and providing any ongoing prioritization needed as additional business requirements arise
Employing the enterprise's IT standards and architectures whenever possible and recognizing the TCO implications of failing to observe these standards
By winning the customer's acceptance of these ground rules, the SLA process creates a working relationship that fosters effective collaboration and, ultimately, the successful delivery of IT services.
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