In the last part of this case study we saw how a global company (XYZ), developer of a billing and customer care application for GSM services (BACC), had set up metrics to measure the performance of their problem management team. The problem management team was part of the support team for customers of the billing application which was used to manage subscribers of GSM services.

In Part IV of this case study we shall look at the relationship between customer SLAs and the performance of the problem management team.

XYZ management decided to have a meeting with team members of the problem management team and the IT manager regarding how best to ensure adherence to SLAs. It was clear to all that the problem management team had to be aware of SLAs in detail so that they could work keeping in mind time and quality issues. It was also agreed that although other teams had impact on the actual resolution time of any problem, the time taken by the problem management team to arrive at resolutions and the quality of their problem-solving and fixes had the largest effect on SLAs.

The following guidelines were adopted to ensure that the problem management team members’ output was in line with customer SLAs or exceeded them:

Simplicity of SLAs

SLAs for all customers were kept similar with a few exceptions. Due to the nature of the application, round the clock support every day of the year was the norm and was offered as a standard to all customers. A superior SLA with faster response and resolution times based on severity of the issue was offered as a premium service at a higher cost. Feedback of the problem management team and performance metrics were taken as input when setting up and maintaining SLAs.

Awareness of the SLA and any other customer contracts

The problem management team were always kept up-to-date regarding SLAs and any other contractual details of the customers they had to deal with.

Close Coordination with the Service Desk

The Service Desk had to deal with special requests from the customer not supported by the SLA. For instance, an issue of severity level 2 might require a resolution in 5 working days according to the SLA, but the customer asks for faster services citing an emergency. The Service Desk in this case, has to negotiate with the customer but only after interacting with the problem management team to find out the best and quickest solution under the circumstances.

Strive for Excellence

The problem management team, being critical to the entire support services set-up were reminded that service excellence matters more than SLAs and that they need to do the best possible job every time. SLAs should be considered as a minimum standard they need to achieve.

Thus the problem management team were kept informed about customer SLAs and the team’s feedback used to set up the SLAs and maintain them. However, it was made clear that providing the best service possible needs to be the goal of the team, rather than merely meeting SLAs.

In Part V, the concluding part of this case study, we shall look at ensuring continual improvement in problem management.

A management professional with experience of more than twenty years in general management, quality management, customer support, software development and information technology consultancy, focusing on business requirements and applications for industries such as telecom, finance, and manufacturing. Presently, Head of New Vista Services, offering management consulting services, training in soft skills, and IT infrastructure services.