Completing the Seven Critical Areas of an SSR

We have introduced the SSR model, talked about it's benefits and looked at the first three areas - so today we are going to complete our review of the content of an SSR by looking at areas 4 through 7.

4. Service Specification

- Service Specific Requirements. List the services to be provided by the provider to meet the previously specified business requirements. For example:- The provider must provide a Service Desk Service that will receive, record, track, escalate, monitor, record, coordinate inform and resolve end-user system incidents and work requests.

- Service Levels. The provider must meet the performance targets for the services listed. For Example:- In the Service Desk function - the provider must provide a service from 0800 Monday through 1800 Friday. Additionally, the provider must resolve x% of all incoming calls/e-mails within y minutes.

- Performance Measurement. Performance will be measured against the service level targets specified above. For example here are three performance attributes:-

  1. Timeliness - degree of success in meeting deadlines or milestones
  2. Responsiveness - ability to react to a single event within a given time
  3. Capacity - ability to handle the required workload or volumes successfully

Additional key points:-

~ The provider must monitor and measure service levels for all services it provides

~ The provider will take positive action to prevent and correct out of line service situations

~ The provider will provide weekly and monthly reports to prove the efficiency and effectiveness of Service Delivery to performance standards

- Security and Audit.

~ The provider must adhere to (or introduce) appropriate security, confidentiality and access controls to protect the integrity and continuity of service

~ The provider must comply to all necessary laws, including data protection acts

~ The provider must give access and disclosure to internal auditors to provide independent assurance that delivery meets required performance standards

- Sustainability. In the event of a service failure, the provider must restore service in accordance with agreed procedures and authorizations. The provider must supply a level of resilience, contingency and robustness to safe guard against known and reasonable causes of disruption to service. The provider will provide, in the event of a disaster, a known and well executable plan to restore service within agreed timeframes.

- Transition, Start-up and Acceptance. Services will have to be transferred to the new provider in a controlled and planned fashion. The plan should contain all the principle activities that will achieve a successful transfer without any disruption or degradation of service performance. The provider can be invited to share best practices in transitioning in new service, since they will ultimately have a lot more quality experience in this activity.

5. Service Management

This section contains three principle functions:-

- Roles and Responsibilities. A contract manager should be appointed to act as the single point of contact and coordinate all key activities. A Service Manager underpinned by an appropriate management and team structure should be installed. A list of responsibilities between the provider and the receiving organization should be drawn up to provide clarity. Providers should recruit, train and maintain appropriate skills and capabilities throughout the life of the contract. Controls, checkpoint meetings and management sign-off is necessary to monitor and track successful progress throughout transition.

- Management Review Process. An internal Contract/Vendor Manager will meet regularly with the provider to review and help improve the overall quality and performance of service. Typically a monthly service review meeting will achieve this. The emphasis should be on rapid resolution of service issues, prevention of incidents, cost control/reduction and the progress of various service improvement initiatives. A formal record of these meetings; including actions taken and progress made should be kept. Additionally Audit and Major Review Meetings should be proactively scheduled across the calendar year to review and approve compliance with the SSR. Reasonable access and disclosure agreements should also be known and agreed to in advance of any sign off.

- Change Control. Changes to the Service comes from two possible sources: change that is within the bounds of the SSR agreement, and significant change that requires the provider to perform significant additional work - not covered under the terms of the existing contract. In both cases the provider must provide a suitable method for impact assessment to identify issues and risks and work to enact the change with no (or limited yet known) impact to ongoing Service.

6. Constraints.

This area will specify the constraints that providers will have to take into account when creating their proposals for an SSR.

- Service Contraints. These items will limit the ability of either the receiver or provider to undertake their service delivery duties. Examples include:- named staff and staff displacement, staff turnover and attrition rates, internal policies and procedures, differences in legal requirements between countries where the service is delivered, recruitment of a providers staff member and staff security clearance levels. These should all be investigated.

- Standards. Providers must adhere to certain standards depending on the accreditation levels and requirements of the organization. Examples include: BS17799 and BS15000 (soon to be ISO 20000). The provider must indicate the extent to which their systmes, methods and procedures have met these requried standards and of course evidence in the form of a certificate should always be requested and inspected visually.

- Contractual Matters. Details of contractual matters are beyond the scope of this article, however the British Computer Society offer these Top Ten Tips for Contracts and companies such as Proposal Kit offer low cost information to help you scope out and list your requirements in this area.

7. Instructions to Outsourcers / Vendors / Providers

It is important, especially whne you are going to receive multiple bids from multiple providers that the approach, guidelines and instructions are clearly laid out and adhered to throughout the bid process. From a legal perspective, some providers may cry "cheat", if they feel that they have not been allowed to bid in line with other bidders. Key items here include:-

- Time table for procurement. Steps taking us from initial announcement through to: bidders conference, bid evaluation, negotiation of draft contracts, invitation of offers, invitation of best and final offers, shortlisting, final review, award of contract and commencement of implementation.

- Format for Proposals. Failure to conform to these standards will lead to the providers bid being rejected outright such is the importance of this section. Format items include things like: electronic V's hard copy, bindings, layout, page numbering, paragrpah numbering, labels, whether a response if madatory, informational or just for back ground.

- Terms and Conditions. Provider must meet all requierments and specify to what level they will meet these requirements. The receiver of the service cannot be held responsible for the method and actions of the provider.

- Further Information. Additional information, to support the bid, may be necessary. A separate section should be reserved for this information to avoid clutter and complexity within the main body of the SSR.

Next time we will look at the three major pitfalls of implementing SSR's within your organization.

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