A Service Manager, as the leader of the Service Management organization, have to drive and address his organization to achieve the expected results in terms of Quality.

This video of Stephen Covey ilustrates the importance of establishing Goals. In our field, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) drive to Service Management Goals!:


Service Managers need to develop a Transition Plan to translate goals into action. And then they must effectively communicate the goals to the service stakeholders (the Service Team -their players and staff members- and the Service Users).

Covey explains The Four Disciplines to achieve results: Focus on the Wildly Important, Act on the Lead Measures (20% that get 80% of the results), Keep a Compelling Scoreboard, and drive a Culture of Accountability.

Of course, SLAs are the agreed meassures to meet Quality goals (the first set of goals to meet), but not the only goals (you can dig further into this point here). But the good news is that we can also apply Covey’s approach to achieve all of our goals!.

Now we will take the goals discussion a level higher and focus on missional goals first. Using the football (or “soccer” if you area an American reader) analogy, SLAs are not the goal. Scoring more than the opponent is the goal. SLAs are more like defining the positions for the players, and communicating what the purpose is for each position. Then you have tactics, the designed plays and maybe a few pre-planned what-if scenarios. These are your defined processes, which should, “at a minimum”, meet the SLAs. As the coach, you have selected who should be on the field at any specific time, usually based on how well they are suited for the adjusted objective. It could be a push for scoring when you’re behind late in the game, or it could be defending a lead while taking as much time as possible off the clock.

The point is that SLAs are not the primary means to meet the overall goals. They are certainly one of the tools you have for communicating expectations, but we also understand that the real goal is to make money, to delight the customer, to maximize their experience, etc.

  • SLAs are one tool, out of many in your SM toolkit.
  • Poorly done SLAs (badly written, poorly negotiated, poorly communicated, etc.) will often inhibit excellent service management far more than any benefits you get from simply having a defined set of expectations.
  • Even well written and communicated SLAs often degrade the customer experience. Too much focus on SLAs in order to meet goals can inhibit talented service delivery people who can read a situation and determine a better means to achieve the customer experience goals. We’ve seen too many scenarios where talented, creative people were ignored off pushed aside due to SLA adherence being the exclusive way to meet goals. We know it sounds far fetched, but it does happen.

Customer experience strategy can be a more effective way to define expected outcomes, while taking individual talents into consideration. We highly recommend the book “Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business” as a great approach to this perspective (an earlier article was also provided about this point, click here to deep into it).

What is your advice for a Service Manager about the best way to help to meet Business objectives?

Authors: angelberniz and Dan Kane (All Rights Reserved by the authors).
Source: Original Text (based upon first hand knowledge).
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at
Help us to improve it: how-todiscussion.

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