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Service Management as a Practice

Service management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services. The more mature a service providers capability, the greater is their ability to consistently produce quality services that meet the needs of the customer in a timely and cost-effective manner. The act of transforming capabilities and resources into valuable services is at the core of service management. Without these capabilities, a service organization is merely a bundle of resources that by itself has relatively low intrinsic value for customers.

Services are a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating the outcomes. Customers want to achieve the services without the ownership of specific costs and risks. Services facilitate outcomes by enhancing the performance of associated tasks and reducing the effect of constraints. These constraints may include regulation, lack of funding or capacity or technology limitations. The end result is an increase in the probability of desired outcomes. While some services enhance performance of tasks, others have a more direct impact they perform the task itself.

An IT Service is based on the use of Information Technology and supports the Customers Business Process and Business Outcomes. Outcome is the result of carrying out an activity, following a process or delivering an IT service etc. The term is used to refer to intended results as well as to actual results.

An outcome-based definition of service moves IT organizations beyond business-IT alignment towards business-IT integration.

There are three types of services:

  • Core
  • Enabling
  • Enhancing services

Core services deliver the basic outcomes desired by one or more customers. They represent the value that the customer wants and for which they are willing to pay. These services anchor the value proposition for the customer and provide the basis for their continued utilization and satisfaction. Enabling services are services that are needed in order for a core service to be delivered. These services may or may not be visible to the customer, but the customer does not perceive them as services in their own right. They are‘basic factors which enable the customer to receive the‘real’(core) service.

Enhancing services are services that are added to a core service to make it more exciting or enticing to the customer. Enhancing services are not essential to thedelivery of a core service and are added to a core service as‘excitement’ factors, which will encourage customers to use the core service more.

When we turn on a water tap, we expect to see water flow from it. When we turn on a light switch, we expect to see light fill the room. There was a time when these very basic things were not as reliable as they are today. We know instinctively that the advances in technology have made them reliable enough to be considered as a utility. But it is not just the technology that makesthe services reliable. It is how they are managed.

The use of IT today has become the utility of business. Business today wants IT services that behave like other utilities such as water, electricity or the telephone. Simply to have the best technology will not ensure that IT provides utility like reliability. Professional, responsive, value driven servicemanagement is what brings this quality of service to the business.

Service management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services. The act of transforming capabilities and resources into valuable services is at the core of service management. Without these capabilities, a service organization is merely a bundle of resources that by itself has relatively low intrinsic value for customers. Public frameworks and standards are attractive when compared with proprietary knowledge for the following reasons:

Proprietary knowledge is deeply embedded in organizations and therefore difficult to adopt, replicate or even transfer with the cooperation of the owners. Such knowledge is often in the form of tacit knowledge which is inextricable and poorly documented. This is customized for the local context and the specific needs of the business to the point of being idiosyncratic. Unless the recipients of such knowledge have matching circumstances, the knowledge may not be as effective in use.

Owners of proprietary knowledge expect to be rewarded for their investments.

They may make such knowledge available only under commercial terms through purchases and licensing agreements.

Publicly available frameworks and standards such as ITIL, Six Sigma, COBIT, CMMI, PRINCE2, PMBOK®, ISO 9000, ISO/IEC 20000 and ISO/IEC 27001 are validated across a diverse set of environments and situations rather than the limited experience of a single organization.

They are subject to broad review across multiple organizations and disciplines and vetted by diverse sets of partners, suppliers and competitors. The knowledge of public frameworks is more likely to be widely distributed among a large community of professionals through publicly available training and certification. It is easier for organizations to acquire such knowledge through the labor market. Ignoring public frameworks and standards can needlessly place an organization at a disadvantage.

Organizations should cultivate their own proprietary knowledge on top of a body of knowledge based on public frameworks and standards. Collaboration and coordination across organizations become easier on the basis of shared practices and standards. A function is a team or group of people and the tools or other resources they use to carry out one or more processes or activities. In larger organizations, a function may be broken out and performed by several departments, teams and groups or it may be embodied within a single organizational unit (e.g. The service desk).

In smaller organizations, one person or group can perform multiple functions - for example, a technical management department could also incorporate the service desk function. A role is a set of responsibilities, activities and authorities granted to a person or team. A role is defined in a process or function. One person or team may have multiple roles -for example, the roles of configuration manager and change manager may be carried out by a single person. Roles are often confused with job titles but it is important to realize that they are not the same.

Each organization will define appropriate job titles and job descriptions,Which suit their needs and individuals holding these job titles can perform one or more of the required roles. It should also be recognized that a person may, as part of their job assignment, Perform a single task that represents participation in more than one process.

For example,A technical analyst who submits a request for change (RFC). To add memory to a server to resolve a performance problem is participating in activities of the change management process.

At the same time as taking part in activities of the capacity management and problem management processes. A process is a structured set of activitiesdesigned to accomplish a specific objective. A process takes one or more defined inputs and turns them into defined outputs. Processes define actions, dependencies and sequence. Well-defined processes can improve productivitywithin and across organizations and functions.

What is a Process?

A process is a structured set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective. It takes one or more defined inputs and turns them into defined outputs.

Process characteristics include:

Processes should be Measurable. We are able to measure the process in a relevant manner. It is performance - driven. Managers want to measure cost, quality and other variables while practitioners are concerned with duration and productivity.

Processes should have Specific results

The process exists reason to deliver a specific result. This result must be individually identifiable and countable.

Processes deliver to Customers

Every process delivers its primary results to a customer or stakeholder. Customers may be internal or external to the organization, but the process must meet their expectations. Processes Respond to a Specific Event, while a process may be ongoing or iterative, it should be traceable to a specific trigger.

Processes define actions, dependencies and sequence.

A process is organized around a set of objectives. The main outputs from the process should be driven by the objectives and should include process measurements (metrics), reports and process improvement. If the activities of the process are carried out with a minimum use of resources, the process can also be considered efficient. A process, or an activity within a process, is initiated by a trigger.

A trigger may be the arrival of an input or other event. For example, the failure of a server may trigger the event management and incident management processes.

A process may define policies, standards, guidelines, activities and work instructions if they are needed. Processes, once defined, should be documented and controlled. Once under control they can be repeated and managed. Process measurement and metrics can be built into the process to control and improve the process Important point is, only a well-managed process can be repeated to produce desired outcomes. The process owners role is accountable for ensuring that a process is fit for purpose.

This role is often assigned to the same person who carries out the process manager role, but the two roles may be separate in larger organizations. The process owners role is accountable for ensuring that their process is performed according to the agreed and documented standard and meets the aims of the process definition.

The process owners accountabilities include:

  • Sponsoring, designing and change managing the process and its metrics
  • Defining the process strategy
  • Assisting with process design
  • Ensuring that appropriate process documentation is available and current
  • Defining appropriate policies and standards to be employed throughout the process
  • Periodically auditing the process to ensure compliance to policy and standards
  • Periodically reviewing the process strategy to ensure that it is still appropriate and change as required
  • Communicating process information or changes as appropriate to ensure awareness

The service owner is accountable for the delivery of a specific IT service. He is responsible to the customer for the initiation, transition and ongoing maintenance and support of a particular service and accountable to the IT director or service management director for the delivery of the service. The service owners accountability for a specific service within an organization is independent of where the underpinning technology components. Service ownership is as critical to service management as establishing ownership for processes which cross multiple vertical silos or departments. It is possible that a single person may fulfill the service owners role for more than one service.

The service owner has the following responsibilities:

Ensuring that the ongoing service delivery and support meet agreed customer requirements.

Working with business relationship management to understand and translate customer requirements into activities, measures or service components that will ensure that the service provider can meet those requirements.

Ensuring consistent and appropriate communication with customer(s) for service - related enquiries and issues.

Assisting in defining service models and in assessing the impact of new services or changes to existing services through the service portfoli management process.

When designing a service or a process, it is imperative that all the roles are clearly defined. A trademark of high-performing organizations is the ability to make the right decisions quickly and execute them effectively. Whether the decision involves a strategic choice or a critical operation, being clear on who has input, who decides and who takes action will enable the organization to move forward rapidly. A key characteristic of a process is that all related activities need not necessarily be limited to one specific organizational unit.

Service asset and configuration management process activities

For example, Service asset and configuration management process activities can be conducted in departments such as computer operations, system programming, application management, network management, systems development and even non-IT departments such as procurement, Warehouse or accounting.

Since services, processes and their component activities run through an entire organization. The individual activities should be clearly mapped to well-defined roles. The roles and activities are coordinated by process managers. To help with this task the RACI model or‘authority matrix’ is often used within organizations to define the roles and responsibilities in relation to processes and activities. The RACI model provides a compact, concise, easy method of tracking, who does what in each process and it enables decisions to be made with pace and confidence.

RACI is an acronym for the four main roles of being:

Responsible: The person or people responsible for correct execution — for getting the job done.

Accountable: The person who has ownership of quality and the end result. Only one person can be accountable for each task.

Consulted: The people who are consulted and whose opinions are sought. They have involvement through input of knowledge and information.

Informed: The people who are up to date on progress they receive information about process execution and quality.

Some use the RACI definitions, but switch the order to Accountable, Responsible, Consulted and Informed or ARCI, but the meanings and usage remain unaltered. Occasionally an expanded version of RACI is used, called RACI-VS.

With two further roles as follows:

  • Verifies the person or group that checks whether the acceptance criteria have been met.
  • Signs off the person who approves the V decision and authorizes the product handover. This could be the ‘A’ person.

Potential problems with the RACI model include:

  • To have more than one person accountable for a process means that in practice no one is accountable.
  • Delegation of responsibility or accountability without necessary authority.
  • Focus on matching processes and activities with departments.
  • Incorrect division/combination of functions; conflicting agendas or goals.

There are few important points to remember in RACI

  • Only one person can be accountable for an activity; multiple may be responsible.
  • If you have too many ‘C’ or ‘I’, the decision making may take long time.
  • Heaps of ‘R’ make the environment / task very complex.
  • If you don’t have ‘C’ or ‘I’ (or they are very less) that shows bad communication with the team / customers and stakeholders.