Friday, 6 September 2013

Time To Ring Some Changes

Yesterday we had a visit from a Gartner Analyst, Simon Mingay,  to talk to us about the "art and science of service portfolios". We had as many service managers, process owners and exec as we could get, and it turned into an excellent workshop. Simon talked us through a number of principles - for example, the service portfolio is an outside-in view -  nothing to do with how we do stuff, how many people we have working on stuff, how much stuff has cost, or how important stuff is.

It is a demand-led tool, there for the benefit of our customers, not there for the convenience of the IT department.

We talked a lot about why we need a service portfolio - common reasons are to communicate the value we bring, to define what we are trying to optimiise, and to make it easier to do business with the IT department.

Defining what we mean by a service also sparked an interesting discussion. A service is an action, not a thing. If you can point a stick at it, it's a thing not a service. So, servers and networks are not services. What runs on them probably is. So, a service is an action that delivers a benefit to a customer, and often, but not always, involves a technology, people and processes. Not all of our services involve a technology - process improvement or project management for example.

The difference between a service portfolio and a service catalogue was something that we haven't really thought much about before, but now need to get our heads around. The portfolio's audience is usually the senior executive team of an organisation,  and it should be is a strategic, value based description of the IT organisation's mission role and capabilities. It can be used for investment planning, prioritisation and business justification.   The catalogue is used more on a day to day basis by customers and is an operational tool to simplify service requests from customers and to link to automated back off processes for improved IT efficiency.

We've been developing our own service catalogue for a couple of years now, and Simon had seen it in advance and reviewed it for us. Definitely time to make some changes. We need to separate it out into a portfolio (which will mainly be the top level - the left hand column) which will need value statements adding,  benefits listing, and SLAs writing, and a catalogue, which will be mainly the right hand side column. Once we've weeded out the technologies masquerading as services.

Good debate about what is in ours that shouldn't be - there was general agreement that "infrastructure", where it refers to hardware, is not a service , but there are aspects of it that can be described as services   - access to the internet for example. I was also surprised at how much was missing. High value services such as process improvement, project management, consultancy services including advice and guidance don't appear at all.

An excellent session with lots of debate and questions, and I think we were all agreed that it's a good time for a review!

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