Service Management Office (SMO) with Microsoft® Teams and YaSM

 

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What is a service management office (SMO), and how to operate an SMO with Microsoft® Teams?

Every organization that wants to adopt ITIL® or some other service management framework needs someone who is in charge of the whole effort, and many have found that establishing a service management office (SMO) is perfect for overseeing ITIL® or YaSM® initiatives.

In this video Stefan Kempter explains the concept of the service management office, and how the YaSM service management templates help you getting started. He also shows a few practical examples of how Microsoft® Teams - a popular solution for collaborating and sharing content - can provide the technical platform for a virtual or distributed SMO.

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Every organization that wants to adopt ITIL® or some other service management framework needs someone who is in charge of the whole effort, and many have found that establishing a service management office (SMO) is perfect for overseeing ITIL® initiatives.

So in this video we take a look at the concept of the service management office, and how the YaSM® templates help you getting started. And I also want to show you a few practical examples of how Microsoft® Teams, a popular solution for collaborating and sharing content, can provide the technical platform for your SMO.

What's a service management office?

So what's a service management office? It's best thought of as an entity that coordinates all service management activities throughout the whole organization.

SMOs come in many forms, and which one is right for you will depend on the size and structure of your organization.

A service management office can be

  • an individual, overseeing service management initiatives
  • a team whose members meet periodically, or
  • a function with full-time employees.

Whatever the setup, the SMO is typically responsible for

  • setting policies and standards
  • managing and documenting the service management processes
  • maintaining the service portfolio
  • driving continual service improvement
  • coaching service management roles and
  • providing training and education resources.

So we can say the service management office is a function with certain responsibilities, but it is also

  • a hub for managing and sharing information and
  • a place where service management practitioners collaborate.

Why Microsoft Teams for your SMO?

Now, what does the typical work of a service management office look like in practice? It involves activities such as discussing initiatives, planning tasks, creating content, publishing guidelines, etc.

To keep these various tasks organized, businesses often use communication and collaboration platforms, and a popular choice is Microsoft® Teams that comes with Office365™. Teams allows the members of the service management office to

  • work on documents and other content
  • communicate through chats and video meetings
  • plan tasks and projects, and
  • publish content for others in the organization.

Teams is thus a powerful platform for any SMO, but it's especially useful if you manage your ITIL® or ITSM project remotely or if your service management office is a virtual team whose members are in different locations.

And now let's take a look at a real-world example.

Managing and sharing content

Channels for the typical service management activities

Here in Teams, I've created a team for the service management office. Work is organized in 'channels', so there are channels for the typical service management activities such as managing the service portfolio, improving the services, and managing the service management processes.

If we go into one of the channels, say the one where we manage the service portfolio, we can see that it is made up of tabs for different types of content.

The first tab is always named 'Posts' and contains the channel conversations. So in this tab, the members of our SMO team would post messages, share file links, announce events, and so on.

The second tab is called 'Files': In Teams, each channel has its own space for storing and sharing files, and in the files section of our service portfolio channel we maintain the service definition documents.

I have also added a service portfolio tab to the channel, where the service portfolio is a simple list of services:

We can, for example, group the services according to service type, and for each service there's a link to the service definition document. If we click on the link, the service definition will open and we can check out the details of the service, such as

  • the service owner,
  • the service description,
  • the service value proposition,
  • and so on.

A channel for defining the service management processes

In another Teams channel we define the service management processes and publish process documentation for the entire organization. Obviously, in the files section of this channel we store the process documentation - and now let's do a practical example.

Suppose we need to define and agree a couple of new processes in our organization. Then we would, as a first step, upload templates of the processes to the files section of our channel. If we want to make some adjustments before sharing the files with others, we can use a shortcut next to the file name to open the process diagram in Visio®. Once Visio has launched and the diagram is open, we search for the location where the change is needed and adapt the content. In this example, we add a note to a process activity with some additional instructions.

To make the change visible, we insert a new comment so it's clear for the reviewers what has changed - and who has made the change. In addition, we can use one of the highlighter pens in Visio to highlight the changes further with some flashy color. Then we save and close the file.

We can then ask others to review the process. In the posts tab of our channel we start a new conversation and at the end of the message we add a link to the process diagram to give the reviewers easy access to the document.

Now let's swap users for a second.

Another user in the service management office will see the message in the stream and it takes only a mouse-click to open the process diagram. They can adapt the process and other activities as needed, and in the comments pane, they can check modifications made by others and add their own comments. Here, we simply say that we agree with the change. When we are ready, we save the file and close it.

So at this stage we have a process diagram with modifications and comments, and as a next step we organize a Teams live meeting to discuss the process with all parties involved. This kind of meeting is especially useful if your service management office is a virtual team or if you manage your ITIL® project remotely.

A Teams meeting usually starts as a video call. That's a nice feature but of course the real purpose of the meeting is to discuss a process, so the meeting organizer shares his or her screen, so everyone looks at the same process and the proposed modifications and comments in Visio.

Once all attendees have agreed on a change, the organizer can apply the final touches in Visio while everyone sees what is happening. When all comments and concerns are discussed, the process is finalized, and the meeting can end.

In this way, Teams provides a platform for collaborating on content within your service management office.

But that's not all, there are various plugins or apps for different purposes, such as the 'Tasks' or 'Planner' app that can be very useful for organizing your service management activities.

Managing tasks and to-dos - Example: The Service Improvement Plan (SIP)

As an example, I've set up a plan in the 'Tasks' app that I use as the service improvement plan (or SIP) for a particular service. The tasks in this plan are arranged in buckets, where each bucket corresponds to a different type of service improvement: In my simple example, the first type of improvement is about adding new features, and the second type is about security enhancements.

Of course we can add new tasks to the list, and for each new task, we need to enter a name and a target date, and assign it to one or several team members. Once the new task is saved, you can also move it around, for example to another place in the list or to another bucket.

What's more, you can switch to other views, such as a view according to progress. This works a bit like a Kanban board, where you can see which items are in the pipeline, in progress or completed.

Moving tasks to the next stage is very easy: When a task has been completed, you can simply drag it to the right and then it's shown as completed.

Publishing content: Service management portal as a SharePoint site

Now, we have seen how Teams helps us with coordinating activities and creating content, but of course this content should not be hidden away in some Teams channel.

Most service management offices therefore provide a portal where everyone in the organization can find information about services and how they are managed.

Teams is not meant to be a publication platform, but it works hand in hand with SharePoint®, so for this demo I have set up a simple service management portal as a SharePoint® site.

On the homepage we find links to different types of content, such as

  • the service management dashboard
  • ITIL® learning resources
  • the service desk application where we manage incidents and service requests
  • etc.

To give you an idea about what's behind those links, let's, for example, click on 'Dashboard and analytics'. This will display a typical dashboard that you can configure in your service management application [and which allows you to track trends, monitor operational goals and identify inefficiencies].

Another link points to the service management processes that we have worked on earlier in this video. The processes are displayed with Visio Online so everyone in your organization can explore them.

Navigating in these processes is quite easy, you can use a slider at the bottom to zoom in, and you can move the diagram around to see other parts of the process. Clicking on a process will take you down to the next level of detail, so if we click on service design this opens the linked diagram, where we get to see a more detailed view of the service design process. This is quite a nice way of communicating your service management processes across all levels of your organization.

Of course, what I have shown you here are only examples and there are many other platforms that can support your service management office. But in many organizations, Teams and SharePoint are readily available - so they are an obvious choice.

Now, before we finish today's session, I also want to show you, very quickly, how the YaSM model can help you with establishing a service management office.

How the YaSM templates help you with establishing an SMO

Templates for the typical service management processes

As we have seen, much of the work in a SMO is about creating guidelines and instructions, and the YaSM® Process Map provides templates for such content.

For example, the YaSM model includes a complete set of Visio templates for the typical service management processes. These templates describe the information flows (process inputs and preceding processes on the left, and process outputs and subsequent processes on the right).

Further down in this diagram we have one or several swim lanes with the process activities, so our templates include a detailed description of the steps that should be executed during a process. Of course, you can adapt these templates to the needs of your organization. For example, you can easily add an activity to the process: Just create a new shape, enter some text to describe the activity and adjust the sequence flows around the new process step.

The whole idea is that you can adapt well-crafted process templates and don't have to start from nothing as you define your service management processes.

RACI matrix

Another kind of template we provide is a RACI matrix:

Probably you have seen this kind of matrix before, it shows all the service management roles in the top row, and in the first column at the left we have the service management processes. In the center of the matrix we indicate levels of responsibility, where 'A' stands for accountable and denotes the process owner, and 'R' means responsible, indicating that someone needs to perform a task in the process.

We provide this template as an Excel® table, and it's easy to change responsibilities using drop-down lists in every cell. The RACI matrix is thus the perfect tool for assigning responsibilities in your service management office.

Checklists and document templates

Finally, the YaSM model includes document templates or checklists. There are some 100 of them for everything from meeting minutes to contracts.

If, for example, you need to create your first service definitions, you can use one of our templates as a starting point. We provide the template as a Word™ document describing the typical contents of a service definition. Under each heading you can fill in your own content, so creating service definitions in your organization should not be too difficult.

Support

Apart from templates in various formats, we also offer support, for example with preparing the process diagrams for your SharePoint® environment.

If you would like to learn more about the contents and uses of our YaSM service management model, then I suggest you watch my other videos. And as always, if you have any questions, please get in touch.

 

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