• United States
by Tim Wilson

Web community offers forum for SLM discussions

Aug 06, 20034 mins
Enterprise Applications

* EMA launches online community for outsourcing users and vendors

Do an Internet search of the phrase “IT outsourcing.” What do you find? A plethora of discussions on deciding how – and what – to outsource. In addition, there’s plenty of information about all of the available outsourcing providers, and how to choose one. That’s all the outsourcing data you’ll ever need, right? Wrong. Because in all of the discussion of outsourcing services, contracts and purchasing decisions, there is precious little data about how to manage your service provider after you’ve signed the contract.

How can you ensure that your outsourcing provider is meeting its obligations? How can you be certain that your enterprise is getting good service? How do you measure an outsourcing service’s performance, and what should you do if a provider doesn’t measure up?

These are questions that plague many users of outsourcing services, yet they are seldom addressed in outsourcing studies or product literature. Service providers sometimes offer some guidelines, but they are not in a position to objectively rate their own service levels against those of their competitors. Analysts and research firms collect data about outsourcing trends and experiences, but such data can be expensive, and usually isn’t specific enough to help in managing an individual contract. IT executives often share outsourcing service feedback with each other, but their discussions are generally anecdotal.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a forum where IT executives, outsourcing providers and other interested parties could go to discuss the establishment, measurement and management of IT service levels? A community where service users and providers could meet to share ideas and hash out their differences to help create more realistic expectations of outsourcing performance?

Well, now there is such a forum. Just last month, Enterprise Management Associates opened the doors of , a new Internet site dedicated entirely to the discussion of service-level management (SLM).  The Web site is an open community designed to advance the process of setting, measuring and enforcing IT service levels, both inside and outside the organization.

The site,, features discussion forums in which IT staffers, outsourcing organizations and observers can post questions, offer guidance, or share data about management of IT service levels. Users can log on to the forums as regular members, guests, or even as anonymous parties to gather and share information about service measurement or specific experiences. The goal is to develop threads of discussion about a variety of SLM topics, including outsourcing.

In addition, offers white papers, case studies and regular insights on the topic of SLM, including columns and articles written by some of the area’s most well-known experts. Interested users can sign up to join the SLM mailing list to receive alerts to upcoming newsletters, studies and other data related to maintaining IT service levels.

The site also offers links and guidance to industry standards for SLM, including guidelines developed by organizations such as the IT Infrastructure Library, Six Sigma, and the TeleManagement Forum. These organizations offer aid in creating structured processes for baselining, measuring and enforcing IT service levels, including those maintained by outsourcing providers.

Any interested person can join There is no charge to participate and users are not required to join any mailing list in order to participate. Outsourcing vendors and SLM tool vendors may choose to become sponsors of the site – enabling them to post product information to a special “SLM solutions” area – but sponsorship is not required to participate.

Over time, EMA hopes that will become a community where users and vendors – including outsourcing service providers – can meet to openly discuss issues such as how to set reasonable expectations, how to measure outsourcing service levels, how to rate your service provider, and how to construct service-level agreements.

And maybe next time, your Web search on “IT outsourcing” will include as much information on how to manage your service providers as it does on how to choose them.