SIAM – The case for Service Strategy and Design in practice

SIAM – The case for Service Strategy and Design in practice

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Users left to their own devices – super duper user to the rescue

If IT services or processes are not designed they will evolve organically. Service providers need to respond successfully to business growth and decline if they to demonstrate value and retain the ability to continue to serve.

Sometimes those business changes are pre-understood, sometimes vaguely peripheral, and sometimes a bolt out of the blue. How then does the IT service provider ensure that when building a value network they are able to respond to any of those three states?

Organic growth is the process of expansion by increased output, capacity and innovation. Although growth in business terms (market coverage, customer base expansion, increased output) is often a good thing in IT services design, when responding to this growth there must be control, there needs to be a plan.

Strategy and planning is needed

If services evolve without proper controls, the tendency is simply to react to environmental conditions that have occurred rather than to understand the overall vision and needs of the business. A strategy, plans, standards, controls and governance as well as a well-conceived approach to designing new or changed services matched to the anticipated environment is much more effective and efficient. Of course sometimes, even with the plan, life takes overs. Customers change their minds, market forces switch. A foiled plan however, is better than no plan at all.

Customers of IT services are looking to SIAM to help them respond to those changing needs. They want to have access to the economic specialisms and capabilities of a plethora of service without the risks and costs associated with those services. SIAM is Service Integration and Management, used within many multi-sourced service delivery environments. In such environments, for the customer, the anticipated benefits of the expertise providers can bring may be outweighed by the complexities and risk associated with a diverse, extended value network. Without well-conceived service strategy and design this type of delivery model rarely reaps the anticipated rewards.

Choice and Complexity

With choice comes complexity. In order to reap the benefits that choice brings, customers need to be clear that designing support environments in which the providers of choice can be slipped in and out of the support equation is a necessary prerequisite. SIAM can then provide a single point of control and definition of the end to end accountability for service delivery. Each supplier becomes a ‘module’ in the delivery model and these service modules can be discretely managed and more easily swapped in, modified or indeed removed or replaced. SIAM itself a structural capability supporting an environment where the challenge is one that involves the control of the inputs/outputs and cohesion across value networks where service delivery is being undertaken by a number of service modules.

This is where a service strategy as defined in ITIL ® is important. The strategic definition of a provisioning model should be formed albeit at a concept level by the customer of the IT services. The customer is tasked with making the decisions regarding how IT will be sourced and which type of providers under which model will facilitate the delivery. Moving into ITIL’s service design which incorporates the concepts of separation of concerns, modularity and loose coupling. This provides the flexibility SIAM needs to be able to de-couple underperforming service providers. The customer must define the models to be used when designating IT service layers and processes. These models need to be designed to be extensible so that new business processes and functions can easily be added, extended or discontinued.

Ensuring Viability and Growth

Within the design principles, enterprise architecture describes the relationship with enterprise goals, business functions, business processes, roles, organisational structures, business information, software applications and computer systems – and how each of these interoperate to ensure the viability and growth of the organisation. Enterprise architecture identifies how to achieve separation of concerns and how to define architectural patterns (or the rules of how systems communicate with one another). It provides intelligence to the service strategy, bringing a clear definition of the business processes. It plays a key role in the creation and management of a reusable set of architectural domains for the organisation. These domains might include business, information, governance, technology, security and others. These structures define the basic principles in which the SIAM controls can be established. Greater controls exercised through service design provide the business with well-conceived, flexible service modules allowing greater controls over the providers delivering each element of the service solution.

Within this approach SIAM needs to create a delivery structure that supports process inputs and outputs, lays down governance, standards and controls but does not stifle the individual procedural activities that will be proprietary to each provider in the model.

Understand your Role

Like any relationship all parties need to know their role and be both receiving and providing a valuable contribution. Without it the relationship lacks purpose or value. In personal relationships this usually ends in dissatisfaction, breakdown and ultimately divorce. The service relationship isn’t any different although divorce may not be so simple. Decoupling becomes difficult in IT service environments that have not employed service strategy and design in their creation.   Some providers relish that thought. …”What do I care about how my customer feels about me, it’s not like they can get rid of me without effort and pain anyway!”

Providers nestled comfortably in environments where there is an absence of formalised service design may get away with this approach, but it’s short sighted. Providers who wish to become involved in an entirely more enriching, supportive and sustainable relationship are enabling their customers to obtain the benefits of choice and working smarter with other providers in this modular role governed by the SIAM directive. In this model all of the module providers understand their role and contribution. They also recognises that lacking performance will lead to a decoupling, very much like being in a bad relationship will lead to a divorce.

Delivering Value

Much of the value of delivering integrated service management solutions is intangible and complex. The value lies in how these service elements are defined, provisioned and controlled. Without an IT service strategy and an approach to service design SIAM becomes nothing more than a referee.  Without the ability to be able to measure, monitor and decouple, the promised flexibility and choice is rarely achieved by the. Customers who want a SIAM directed environment must make IT service strategy and design an imperative.

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Michelle Major-Goldsmith

Michelle Major-Goldsmith is currently Manager of Service Management Capability at Kinetic IT in Perth, Western Australia. Michelle has been in the industry for over twenty-five years; formerly Director of Training at UK service management company Sysop and Head of Desktop and Mobile Computing at RAC Motoring Services. More latterly Michelle has been engaged as an ITIL trainer and service management consultant working with a range of clients globally. She was awarded IT Service Management Trainer of the Year in the UK in 2010 and honoured by the British Computer Society in 2011 as IT Support Professional of the Year. She is extensively published within the Service Management Industry.