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ITIL for BAs. Part V; Service Level Management

Our previous post discussed the value of the Service Catalog in representing IT’s general capabilities, expressed in terms of IT Services, described in the language of IT’s customers.  To quickly recap:

  • the Service Catalog represents the current state, and committed-to-future state, of IT’s capabilities,
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) represent the current state of the relationships between IT and its customers in terms of service delivery commitments, and
  • the Service Catalog Manager is responsible for ensuring the completeness, accuracy, and fitness for purpose of the catalog


The service catalog manager, however, is not responsible for ensuring that the right services are being cataloged – that responsibility belongs to the Service Level Manager, the key liaison between IT and its customers.


It can be easily argued that the service level manager is the IT business Aaalyst.  Just as the “business” business analyst is responsible for the entire life cycle of the business requirements and the suitability of overall business solution, so the service level manager is responsible for the entire life cycle of the IT Service requirements and the suitability of the overall IT Service solution as a contribution to the overall business solution.


Note that, as I have proposed numerous times in the past, there is a basic assumption that the overall business solution includes non-IT components as well (internal/external marketing, training, Both the business BA and the IT BA (the service level manager) follow a rigorous life cycle based process of managing requirements, and the distinction is a matter of scope only.  The Business Requirements Document (BRD) from the business BA will contain the requirements for the IT service as well as the requirements for the non-IT solution components.  The service level manager will run with the IT service requirements (and in fact will have ideally been engaged with the business BA early in the process of developing that BRD, identifying the appropriate solution, and formulating the supporting business case).


From a process point of view, the service level manager and business BA work together through all aspects of the IT service life cycle: strategy, architecture, design, development, release and deployment, operation, continual improvement, and retirement.  The types of inputs from the business BA into the service level management process are too numerous to list here but can be generally categorized as

  • functional requirements
  • non-functional aka supplemental aka Quality of Service requirements (ITIL’s preferred term), including availability, capacity, continuity, security, and manageability requirements (each of which essentially has a corresponding owner within IT, e.g., Capacity Manager, etc.)
  • service monitoring, reporting, and reviewing requirements


The parallels between the service level manager as defined by ITIL V3 and the business analyst as defined by the BABOK, and the business BA – service level manager relationship, are significant.  For the enterprise grappling with the question as to whether the BA should be hosted by the business or the IT organization seems likely to become fairly settled once an IT organization adopts ITIL.  It seems sometimes that the distinction between the two roles becomes clouded by the magnitude of the complexities and risks of the IT components of the business solutions.  And indeed those complexities and risks merit a lot of attention!


Does your IT shop practice ITIL V3?  Does your enterprise have some form of a BA Center of Excellence?  If yes to both, does your enterprise Business Analysis model recognize the Service Level Manager as a “business analyst” with an IT specialty?  I hope to see your comments below.


In the meantime, may you and yours have a long, relaxing and love-filled Holiday!