Service Level Understanding

"Service Level Understanding" is a term for a process of reconciling communication and expectations between two teams that work together. It is deliberately named differently than "Service Level Agreement" because it does not include a contractual element. The key elements include:

  • Each team enumerates their expectations of the other team
  • Expectations are developed more deeply - I need X from this team, which probably needs Y to make that possible
  • Each team attempts to guess at the other team's perspective
  • Each team reconciles their beliefs with the other team's beliefs
  • Teams attempt to identify structural barriers to success
  • Most of this occurs in writing and without face-to-face meeting between the teams

Procedure for Initial SLUEdit

ProcessEdit

  1. Identify participating teams
  2. Identify participants on each team (could work from team lead's opinion, but should also give all team members a chance to participate)
  3. Facilitator meets with each team to complete the first half of the form.
  4. Facilitator meets with each team to share other team's answers, reconcile, and decide on what to share.
  5. Facilitator meets with the two teams together.

FacilitationEdit

DocumentsEdit

Copy the Initial SLU template to produce:

  1. One version for Team A
  2. One version for Team B
  3. One joint version

After the first round of meetings, copy the columns from each team into the documents for the other team, and into the joint version. The notes column is not used in this meeting.

In the second round of meetings, teams can take notes in their own documents, which will not be shared with the other team.

In the third meeting, the notes column is used for joint notes.

GuidelinesEdit

We are looking to uncover in particular the following:

  • Outright mismatches in expectations, e.g., Team X expects Team Y to produce a deliverable but Team Y doesn't view Team X as a customer
  • underlying unresolved conflicts, e.g., Team X expects Team Y to provide x hours per month of support but Team Y doesn't have enough people to do this
  • things that could be built for the future
  • things that are going well now but may need attention before they stop working (succession plan; things someone may stop doing)
    • e.g., Team X depends on Team Y's deliverable, but Team Y was planning to stop providing it because they didn't think anyone was using it.

Procedure for Review SLUEdit

A Review SLU may be appropriate any time from 3 months to year after the initial SLU. Its purpose is to follow up and extend on the work of the initial SLU meetings in improving the working relationship between the teams.

ProcessEdit

  1. Identify a good time for followup on previous SLU meetings between a pair of teams.
  2. Identify changes to participants, if any.
  3. Facilitator meets with each team individually to complete the first half of the Review form.
  4. Facilitator meets with each team individually to review other team's responses.
  5. Facilitator meets with the two teams together.

FacilitationEdit

As per initial SLU, but using Review SLU Template.

GuidelinesEdit

We are looking for:

  • Patterns of change and resistance to change.
  • If a problem is persisting, diagnosing whether the previously attempted solution should be reinforced or altered.