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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Service Assets


In delivering a service, the IT service provider exploits its own assets to add value to the customer’s assets and generate value for the organization.

The assets used by the IT service provider can be described in terms of its capabilities and resources. They were covered in the Chapter on Service Assets.

The development of a successful Service Strategy needs to be built on an understanding of the service assets that can be brought into play in service delivery. There is no point in formulating a Service Strategy that requires service assets that are not or will not be available. Making assumptions about the organization’s ability to improve its service asset base, especially its capabilities, introduces an element of risk that needs to be acknowledged, understood and managed.

The picture below is a diagrammatic representation of how we generate value to customers using both the service provider’s assets as well as the customers assets.


In developing a Service Strategy it is essential to recognize that generation of value to the business requires a combination of the IT service provider’s assets and the customer’s assets. This means that the development of Service Strategy must be informed by knowledge of the customer’s resources and capabilities, and the opportunities, threats, vulnerabilities and risks associated with them. The IT service provider must look outwards as well as inwards.

Value

The idea that services add value is fundamental to IT service delivery and is a key input to the development of Service Strategy. There is little point in developing services that have no recognized value. In the chapter on Service Value we saw how value is created through Utility or fitness for purpose, and Warranty or fitness for use. We can measure value not only in terms of quantifiable benefits such as financial savings or increased income, but also in terms of benefits such as service quality, which are less easily quantified and often depend on the perception of the customer or service user. The principle that value depends on customer perception leads us to conclude that effective service strategy requires a way of thinking, a ‘marketing mindset’, which captures the customer’s perspective, through which we can understand both the customer and the outcomes that the customer really values and why, and to what extent they are valued.

Automating the Service Management Process

Automating business processes delivers higher Utility and Warranty thereby generating better performance and value from service and customer assets.

The same applies to IT Service Management. Earlier in this chapter, we learnt that IT Service Management capability is a strategic asset. Building this capability through automation is fundamental to providing value to the business by remaining competitive.

Of course, effective Service Management in all but the smallest organizations is inconceivable without a level of automation. For example, Configuration Management based on paper records could hardly deliver in an organization of any significant scale.
Beyond this basic level, we can identify a number of areas where automation can improve capability. For example:
• Monitoring and measuring to an extent not possible by other means, handling high levels of complexity and volume irrespective of time or location.
• Generating automated alerts helps us respond more rapidly to events, helping us maintain service availability.
• Discovery tools enable us to maintain an up-to-date Configuration Management System and identify and deal with a range of control related problems.
• Sophisticated modeling and simulation helps us design infrastructure and applications, and model complex options for service delivery.
• Artificial intelligence is able to offer a range of capabilities from root cause analysis, through sophisticated alarm and control systems, to complex scheduling and resource management.
• Workflow management systems improve customer service and efficiency across a range of processes.

At a more basic level, automation increases productivity, enables us to handle fluctuating demand and generally do more for less. Critically for IT Service Management, it also enables us to integrate across different Service Management Processes and Functions, for example through improved coherence, shared workflow and escalation processes, shared alarms and alerts, better inter-process communication, information sharing and organizational learning. This improves efficiency, helps reduce errors and duplication of effort, and delivers better value and better service to the customer.

Previous: Service Strategy Development

Next: Introduction to Service Design

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