The Service Management Office

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The Service Management Office

Expanding a good idea

Organizations have been reaping the benefits of having a centralized Project Management Office (PMO) for many years. Recently, the Service Management industry has adopted this idea with the creation of the Service Management Office (SMO), providing a service for both business and IT functions.

The PMO and the SMO both provide a center of excellence for an organization, aimed at driving effectiveness and efficiencies. While the PMO focuses on projects, the SMO concentrates on the delivery of services to the organization.

The concept of the SMO has occurred primarily because of the change in emphasis from simply delivering IT technology solutions to IT services being integrated with the strategic objectives of the enterprise.

The SMO is gaining popularity for many reasons. One of these is its capability to overcome the problem of poor handover from development to operations. The SMO is capable of managing the transition from product to service, where it delivers customer value. A service has value when you add support, service-level agreements (SLAs) and other facets, which is the purpose of the SMO.

A successful SMO requires someone with a good overall perspective of the IT organization and delivery processes. The SMO is a point of coordination for the work to ensure stakeholders are united in a common goal. The SMO has a number of key functions:

  • Responsibility for all processes and general management of services the organization uses. The SMO will have a cross-organizational perspective, so the transition from products into services is seamless.
  • When transitioning products to services, the SMO will link all parts of the organization, acting as a facilitator.
  • The SMO is a gatekeeper, ensuring products are transformed into manageable and maintainable services.

The SMO is a concept that has become a reality for the Service management industry, and at an opportune moment. Having a central function to provide the education, knowledge and support that adds value to the products the IT organization provides to the business is long overdue.

Service Management has proved its worth in the IT sector, as the SMO transfers the benefits of robust processes and procedures to the enterprise.

The SMO could take many different forms, and these may be dependent on the size and maturity of the organization.

  • A group of people doing service management for business units
  • A coordination point for service management for business units
  • A group of specific process owners, such as incident manager, problem manager and change manager, for the business, and in addition to specific IT-focused process owners
  • Owner of the service catalogue, SLAs and service-level monitoring
  • Central ownership of a service desk tool, asset management, CMDB and other service-management tools, allowing access for all parts of the business
  • Providing an organizational service desk, logging and assigning calls for all parts of the business, not just IT
  • A policy unit, setting standards and providing training for service-management specialists throughout the business

There are three key benefits that can be gained from the establishment of a SMO, which are in the areas of shared capabilities, a common center of excellence and service assurance.

Whoever is responsible for the SMO must have a “big-picture” perspective of the organization, sharing capabilities between different business units to provide optimum value to the business. The head of the SMO will be responsible for both IT and business services. This common ownership provides the business with the opportunity to benefit from long-established IT service-management practices, such as incident, problem, change and knowledge management. Well-developed service-desk processes translate perfectly to the business, creating opportunities to provide superior service to business customers.

The benefits of establishing a SMO cannot be underestimated. Regardless of the size of the organization, there will be a SMO model that will work and will provide benefits to the business. Rather than doubling the roles for IT and the business, integrating them under one umbrella makes perfect business sense.


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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