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Operations Review

Operations Review for Service Providers

In order to maintain a high customer satisfaction rate and abide by contractual agreements, service providers need to create an operating level agreement (OLA) that includes well-defined internal operating processes and procedures. When properly implemented and utilized, a service provider's OLA will help support and fulfill their customers' service level requirements.

The challenge for service providers can be not just defining an OLA, but assessing its level of effectiveness. In addition, service level management may need guidance on how to evaluate other business and operational indicators that can help them determine the overall health of their production computing environment. Ultimately, a hosting business's management should consider regularly performing a formal review of their operations.

This section discusses the Operations Review, which is a set of guidelines and templates that your management team can use to evaluate significant milestones in the operations life cycle. A time-dependent process, the Operations Review is primarily concerned with assessing the effectiveness of an organization's internal operating processes on a regularly scheduled basis. The processes described in this section play an essential role within an organization because they provide the foundation for delivery of automated business services.

As discussed previously, the Operations Review is one of the four operations management reviews (OMRs). The following table shows the four OMRs, summarizes the mission of service associated with each quadrant in the MOF Process Model, and lists items to evaluate.

Table: OMR According to Quadrant

Quadrant Mission of service Operations management review Items to evaluate

Changing

Introduce new service solutions, technologies, systems, applications, hardware, and processes.

Release Readiness Review

Performed prior to new release

  • The release (the changes)

  • The release package (all of the tools, processes, and documentation)

  • The target (production) environment and infrastructure

  • Rollout and rollback plans

  • Risk management plan

Operating

Perform day-to-day tasks effectively and efficiently.

Operations Review

Performed on a scheduled basis

  • IT staff performance

  • Operational efficiency

  • Personnel skills and competencies

  • Operating level agreements (OLAs)

Supporting

Resolve incidents, problems, and inquiries quickly.

Service Level Agreement

Performed on a scheduled basis

  • SLA-defined targets and metrics

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Costs

Optimizing

Drive changes to optimize cost, performance, capacity, and availability in the delivery of IT services.

Change Initiation Review

Performed when change is identified

  • Cost/benefit of proposed changes

  • Impact to other systems and existing infrastructure

Unlike the Change Initiation Review and the Release Readiness Review (which are release-based), the Operations Review is time-based. It is intended to be scheduled on a regular basis to ensure that operations in the production environment are continuously monitored and measured against previously set indicators. These indicators consist primarily of performance measurements that have been formally documented in an operating level agreement (OLA), which service level management helps formulate. The Operations Review is not limited to review of only OLA-related metrics, however. It should also evaluate other business and operational indicators that will assist senior management in measuring the overall health of the production computing environment.

Many organizations use the concept of a "Balanced Scorecard" (see "The Balanced Scorecard - Measures That Drive Performance," Kaplan, Robert S., and Norton, David P.; Harvard Business Review, January 1992). This concept suggests that the state of an organization can be best assessed by taking a "balanced" view across a range of performance measures. Further information about this concept is contained in the "Performance Against the Balanced Scorecard" section in Conduct the Operations Review.

Similarly, the Operations Review should attempt to include key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide a "balanced" view of the organization and not merely its performance against specific customer-related performance targets.

In addition to regularly evaluating performance of the production environment, it institutes corresponding actions to address performance indicators that have either not been achieved or are at risk of not being achieved in the future. The resulting actions may be internally or externally focused, depending on the nature and severity of the measurement that has yet to be achieved.

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