What is Service Management?

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Service management is a concept that describes how organizations provide quality services that are a hit with customers.

As a professional domain, service management has been maturing for decades, and today, organizations that provide services can tap into a huge body of knowledge, including various frameworks and standards that describe service management principles, best practices and processes.

In this video, Stefan Kempter explains how service management helps organizations build up a loyal, or even enthusiastic, customer base, and why the topic is getting a lot of attention these days.

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Service management is a concept that describes how organizations provide quality services that are a hit with customers.

As a professional domain, service management has been maturing for decades, and today, organizations that provide services can tap into a huge body of knowledge, including various frameworks and standards that describe service management principles, best practices and processes.

Before we take a closer look at these frameworks and principles, I want to show you how service management helps organizations build up a loyal - or even enthusiastic - customer base, and why the topic is getting a lot of attention these days.

So let's start with an example.

Benefits of providing services

Suppose you are a manufacturer of elevators. Then, of course, you would seek to develop innovative and unique products to maintain a competitive edge, and sell these products to your clients.

That looks like a nice business, but what happens if you also provide services that help customers make the most of your products, such as

  • configuration and planning support
  • on-site assembly
  • maintenance and repair
  • or emergency assistance.

JeNow, as you provide services, you will receive service requests and useful feedback from your clients, and this information can help you to provide even better products and further improve your services.

I hope you will agree that, with product-related services, our business is now in a much stronger position. Apart from earning us additional revenues, services enable us to

  • stay in touch with our customers and
  • keep a pulse on clients' changing requirements, preferences and concerns.

And all of this leads to happy and loyal customers.

Service management frameworks

So these are the benefits of providing services, and as I mentioned before, organizations looking for guidance on how best to manage their services can tap into a huge body of knowledge, which is mostly made up of various frameworks that describe best practices and standard processes.

So, what service management frameworks and concepts are available?

Chances are, you have heard of ITIL. ITIL has a focus on IT services and was first created in the 1980's when UK government officials felt the level of IT services they were receiving were both costly and inefficient.

Over the years, ITIL has been updated several times and today is the most popular service management framework.

However, ITIL is not the only service management guideline around. There are other frameworks and approaches that organizations can consider, such as

  • COBIT®
  • SIAM™
  • oder VeriSM™.

Each framework addresses specific industries or business needs, but when we look into the details, we find they have the same roots and are very much in line with the basic principles first formulated in ITIL. So there is a lot of common ground in these frameworks.

Time-tested principles

Now, what are these time-tested principles of "good service management"?

Service management should always start with the customers: Service providers must understand their clients' needs and develop an attractive range or 'portfolio' of services.

But how to identify these services?

Customer journey maps

Since services should ideally support a perfect customer experience, service providers often create customer journey maps as a first step. As in this example, customer journey maps tell a story about how a customer moves through each phase of interaction.

For each phase, the map describes the events triggering the phase and identifies client objectives and activities, touchpoints, etc.

Your own maps may look slightly different, but the key point is that you figure out which services are needed to offer the perfect experience to your customers. Here, in this example, a manufacturer of hiking gear provides product-related services such as customer support, a trial day for hiking gear, and a refurbish and repair service.

I hope you get the picture, these services are meant to ensure that customers are happy and stay loyal to the brand.

In the YaSM Service Management Wiki you can check out this example of a customer journey map, and other service design documents, in detail.

So, identifying your service portfolio is essential for good service management, and once you have defined your services, the service management frameworks describe how best to manage those services.

Managing services: The service lifecycle

The details may vary, but essentially all frameworks say that services should be managed across their lifecycle, to ensure the services are continually improved and adapted to changing customer needs.

The service lifecycle includes five stages for setting the service strategy, as well as for designing, implementing, operating and improving the services: This makes a lot of sense, because

  • every service provider should, first, assess their current service offerings once in a while and define a longer-term strategy.
  • Then, when it's clear what services will be offered to customers, the expected outcomes of the services must be defined, and we need to figure out what it takes for setting up the services.
  • The third lifecycle stage takes care of implementing the services, which includes acquiring, developing and testing of all required service components.
  • Once the services are operational, we need to ensure they are provided efficiently and effectively. Here, we resolve issues and service requests, take care of routine operational tasks and produce service quality reports.
  • Finally, the fifth stage is about continual improvement: We assess if the services are delivered as promised and try to identify potentials for improvement. This will often lead to the specification and implementation of service improvements.

And then the lifecycle starts over again with a fresh round of strategic considerations. The whole point of this lifecycle approach is to ensure long-term success through efficient and effective processes and improved customer satisfaction.

Of course, this advice is not yet very specific, but a number of sources exist with detailed recommendations. One such source are the popular service management frameworks like ITIL. This is not a bad idea in principle, but ITIL has grown rather complex over the years, and is somewhat biased towards IT services.

In my experience, it's easier to start with something simpler, and here the YaSM service management model comes into the picture: With its clear structure and complete set of process and document templates it is much better suited for organizations that want to adopt service management best practice.

So before we finish today's session, I want to show you, very briefly, the kind of advice you will find in YaSM.

The YaSM service management model

Service management processes

Let's first take a look at the YaSM process structure. It is rather straightforward and clear, and at first sight we recognize the service lifecycle that we identified earlier as a key principle of good service management.

But the service lifecycle is not the whole story: Most organizations will need a number of additional, supporting processes in order to function.

An example would be the process for managing projects. This process can run, for example, alongside service design and implementation, to ensure that all design and implementation activities are properly planned and coordinated.

Of course, you don't need to have all these processes in your organization. YaSM is not a standard but a set of recommendations, and you can pick and choose which processes you want to adopt in your organization.

Process and document templates: The YaSM® Process Map

Now, for each of these processes we provide detailed recommendations in the form of process charts. We call this collection of diagrams the "YaSM® Process Map", and here, for example, we have the process map for Visio®. As you can see it contains, first, a top-level diagram with an overview of the service management processes.

In the upper part we find the service lifecycle, and what's nice about these charts is that, from here, we can now drill down into details.

So if we want to know more about, say, service design, all we have to do is click on a link to open the service design diagram.

If we zoom in a little, we can see that designing a service in YaSM is quite straightforward: It involves

  • defining the required service properties
  • designing the required infrastructure
  • outlining the implementation approach
  • and preparing the service implementation.

To give you a better idea of how service design works, we also show information flows in these diagrams.

Here's a typical example: From the definition of the required service properties, we get a draft service definition as an output, which is an important input for the next step: Designing the required infrastructure.

For such documents, the YaSM Process Map contains templates in Word™ format:

This one, for instance, describes the typical contents of a service definition, and you can use it as a starting point when you need to create your first service definitions.

If we close the template and switch back to Visio again, we can now go down further to the sub-process level where we describe in detail the activities to be performed.

So, for instance, the recommended steps for designing the required infrastructure for a service include

  • Identifying the required infrastructure and other capabilities,
  • Specifying the required modifications to the technical infrastructure ...
  • ... and to the external supporting services,
  • and so on,
  • until, at the end of the process, a draft service implementation blueprint has been created.

In this way, the YaSM Process Map explains how service management works, and of course you can also change these diagrams and adapt the processes to the needs of your organization.

I hope you will agree that with these templates, it shouldn't be too hard for your organization to get started with service management.

If you would like to learn more about YaSM and service management, please visit yasm.com - where you will find a complete introduction to service management and more videos about YaSM.

And if you have any questions, please get in touch!


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