Building a Successful Service Management Office

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Building a Successful Service Management Office

The Service Management Office seems to have become the “must-have” accessory for the modern enterprise. There are many failed attempts at building this capability, however; so what can you do to make sure your Service Management Office is a success and provides value to your organization?

Understanding Your Version of a Service Management Office

There are many different types of Service Management Office, so you must first decide what your version will be. It could take the form of a dedicated team, responsible for overseeing the management of all services in your organization, providing centralized service desk capabilities, owning the ITSM toolset and providing guidance on service-related matters for all parts of your business. Alternatively, it could be as small as a single Service Management Adviser who provides help for other parts of your enterprise that want to improve the management of their services.

Define the scope of your Service Management Office based on the appropriate capability of your business, because there is no “one size fits all.”

Prepare Your Organization for the Change

As with any complex organizational change , you must manage the people side of the change. Launching a Service Management Office will have a significant impact on how people work, and you should not expect everyone to share your enthusiasm. Some will conclude this is just another unnecessary level of bureaucracy, requiring them to jump through more hoops when they want to accomplish any job, task or project.

You must present the concept in a way that demonstrates its value to your organization in addition to the benefits it will provide your people. Search your business for the champions who can help promote those benefits and spread the word. Make sure people can see how it will value them.

Gain a Key Sponsor

You won’t be able to establish the service management office “under the radar.” It’s a business investment that will need a business sponsor who has the authority to give it credibility and gain its acceptance in the enterprise. If you do not obtain this sponsorship and keep it throughout the establishment phase and into the operating stage of the service management office, then it is very unlikely you will be successful.

The sponsor must come from the highest level of your organization. Although the concept of service management may be most easily understood within the IT function of any business, the sponsor must come from the business at large to give the Service Management Office visibility and credibility. You want it to be seen as a business imperative, not another IT-driven project.

Effective sponsorship must extend from the executive sponsor to the first-line supervisors who must model the required behavioral change. Unless a service-management mindset becomes part of the cultural DNA of your organization, it will not be able to sustain itself, and it will eventually fail.

Focus on Solutions – not Technology

With a successful Service Management Office, you’ll transition from a technology-focused team to a solution-focused provider, making service agility and responsiveness possible. When you accomplish this goal, then service delivery drives solutions and technology is simply an enabler in the process. People will no longer think they must work around technology. A service management office can be the starting point to transform your organization into a responsive and proactive provider. To make this happen, you must shift the focus of your team from technology to business roles.

What does this business-focused delivery model look like in action? Organizational team members can be reassigned as service-asset owners, giving them ownership and an understanding of the service needs of the unit for which they are responsible. This helps the service owner to make informed decisions when negotiating a tech stack with IT. These new service-asset owners will understand the peak times and lulls for their business units, allowing you to perform maintenance without causing unwelcome disruptions to the business.

Don’t Rush the Transition

Building an effective service management office will take time, and a considerable amount of it. You will need time to understand fully how systems interact, to review your change-management processes and to revisit your Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Your new service owners must be trained and you must consider what tools you will use in the service management office. It could easily require a year to complete the groundwork before it can deliver its potential business value.

Set your goals – Rules before Tools

Why are you actually trying to build a Service Management Office? Is it just because you have read that you need one? That is not enough! You must carefully define why you are establishing the office and identify the value you expect the office to deliver. If these are not clearly defined and identified, then you are certain to fail.

Upon completing this first step, you then must define your goals and objectives. How will you hold service owners accountable? When this is clearly understood, you will be able to articulate what changes are required from people, process and technology perspectives, which will allow you to reach your goals and increase the level of service excellence in your organization.

Next Steps

Once you have defined a clear reason for establishing an office to manage services, gained executive sponsorship and started a process for organizational change, you can start looking at the technology side of the change.

You must remember technology is just a tool, so buying a platform for your service management office is not a guarantee of success; even the best system will not magically transform your business into a service-focused organization. You must first correctly make the other changes or the technology will just result in you delivering bad service faster.

Remember, the key to success for your office is having the right people in the key roles, such as change manager and continuous improvement manager. They will provide the project with a level of clarity and accountability.

You must also understand how you will measure the success of your service management office. When you establish a workable rhythm to evaluate progress, you will then maintain a process of accountability for driving improvements. Move the conversation from simply talking about efforts to discussing results.

The value of a clearly defined, well-managed service management office cannot be underestimated, but you should also not underestimate the necessary investment to initiate and operate it, and to a point where it is providing measurable business value. It is not for the faint of heart, but when done well, the service management office will provide a huge potential payback for your business.


David Mainville

David Mainville, CEO and co-founder of Navvia, is a passionate advocate of Service Management and a frequent presenter, blogger and well known member of the ITSM community. With over 35 years of experience, David has held progressively senior technical and management roles allowing him to "connect the dots" between the Business and IT. At Navvia, David leads the charge to bring innovative ITSM solutions to market focusing on Product Development, Marketing and Operations.

• Posted by David Mainville on Oct 26, 2018
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