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ITIL for your Messaging and Collaboration environment (Part 2: Service Strategy)

Posted by Carl Drechsel on Tue, Jan 24, 2012

ITIL

Last week I gave an overall introduction to ITIL for Messaging and Collaboration environments. This week I will start going a little further into detail on the individual “Volumes” of the IT Infrastructure Library and how they relate to our environments. This is the second part of our series, in which I will cover Service Strategy. Each week we can expect a new article on each of the five primary components of ITIL Service Management. This will end up being a seven part series which I will make available at the end of the series as a downloadable white paper.

One of the things that I wanted to add that I left out of last week’s article was to give a better idea of the human resource organization of ITIL. ITIL is highly organized; each volume, process and sub-process has an owner, in ITIL, a role. This role may or may not be an individual position of employment within a company.  An individual may fill many roles or just one. Most companies will align specific roles with specific job functions, for example, the person in charge of network operations may be assigned the “Change Manager” role. In smaller companies an individual may take on a great deal of roles, however each role has its own subset of activities. A company hoping to reduce the Silo effect will create cross-functional teams whereas each primary group has a “Role” within the ITIL Service Management lifecycle.

Ok, now that that’s cleared up let’s move onto Service Strategy.

As I mentioned in the first article Service Strategy is the function of analyzing your current environment, technologies deployed and available, and of course, your customer’s needs. As an IT organization it means we need to not only support what the business may be asking for, but also be a driving force to utilize our technical resources to grow the business, create greater efficiencies and drive down costs.

There are five primary processes associated with Service Strategy, below I will provide the basic descriptions of each and attempt to provide how they relate to the Messaging and Collaboration world.

Strategy Management for IT Services

The goal of Strategy Management is to analyze the IT organization’s current offerings and capabilities taking into consideration competitors and market conditions in order to develop a strategy to serve business requirements. Once defined, Strategy Management is also responsible for the implementation of the newly agreed IT strategy.

Strategy Management is usually facilitated by the Service Strategy Manager role which was introduced as a new role in ITIL 2011.  The responsibilities of this role include:

  • Working with IT Steering and Governance to develop and maintain IT service strategy
  • Managing communications and the implementation of service strategy

What is important for my Messaging and Collaboration environment?

A subset of questions, starting a conversation.

  • What do we offer now?
  • What have my customers been asking for?
  • What’s on the horizon? (What new technologies can make us better?)
  • What are our competitors doing?

Whether you’re the Service Strategy Manager or not, as a member of the Messaging and Collaboration team this is the information that needs to be collected and shared in order to build a proper Service strategy.  In order to be competitive you need to have the most complete picture possible, in IT, things quickly become obsolete.

Service Portfolio Management

The goal of Service Portfolio Management is to ensure that the IT organization has the right mix of services to meet required business outcomes at an appropriate level of investment.

This process is managed by the Service Portfolio Manager who works in coordination with the IT Steering Group to develop the IT organizations offerings and capabilities.

Why is it important for my Messaging and Collaboration environment?

Service Portfolio Management is truly more of a business function within IT. It really comes down to; do our offered services meet our business objectives given our current fund allocation and Service strategy? Simply put, did we do what we said and did it work?  If not, adjust, measure and repeat.

Demand Management

Demand management is pretty straightforward, to understand and anticipate customer demand for different services. Demand Management works closely with Capacity Management to ensure demand doesn’t outweigh available capacity. The goal is to create balance between service availability and demand. This effort is continuous as demand and capacity are constantly changing.  Too little demand results in over capacity resulting in excess cost, too great demand can result in system failure.

Thus, Demand Management is facilitated by a Demand Manager which was added for ITIL 2011. The Demand Manager is responsible for:

  • Understanding, influencing, and anticipating service demand
  • Working with Capacity Management to ensure the appropriate level of capacity is available for the current and forecasted demand.

Why is it important for my Messaging and Collaboration environment?

Demand Management is critical in Messaging and Collaboration, if demand management and capacity management are not aligned, your company is either spending too much money on infrastructure or you’re environment is prone to frequent service outages.  Either way, not good.

The best approach to demand management is by keeping consistent metrics and being able to trend and forecast demand growth. In a Messaging and Collaboration environment this can be many different sets of variables, such as:

  • CPU usage
  • Memory utilization
  • Network Bandwidth
  • Storage growth
  • Mailbox count
  • Access connections
  • Number of handheld devices

The point is, without these metrics demand management is often futile. As Eileen mentioned in her ITIL post, you cannot control what you cannot measure.

Financial Management for IT Services

Financial Management; quite simply explained, at least from an ITIL side. Anyone in this role knows the function is quite the contrary.  Ok, simply put the goal of financial management is to manage the IT groups budgeting, accounting and chargeback requirements.

This process, as you would likely guess, requires the efforts of the Financial Manager role. As above they are responsible to manage budgeting, accounting and chargebacks.

Why is it important for my Messaging and Collaboration environment?

IT services typically require a great deal of capital to develop, deploy and maintain. As such, there needs to be an individual accountable for the management of potentially complex financial transactions.  Messaging and Collaboration Groups are certainly no stranger to the financial impact of their services. The Financial Manager will provide the financial analysis for any new service recommendations, which will have a significant impact on your Messaging and Collaboration Service Portfolio. As with any ITIL process the better the data, the better the analysis.

Business Relationship Management

Business Relationship Management entails maintaining a positive relationship with customers in order to identify the needs of both existing and potential customers resulting in the development and deployment of services that satisfy business needs and requirements.

This Process is managed by the Business Relationship Manager role, this role has also been introduced with ITIL 2011. The objectives of this role include:

  • Maintaining customer relations
  • Identifying service opportunities
  • Coordinating with the Service Level Manager

Why is it important for my Messaging and Collaboration environment?

There always seems to be a constant struggle between IT groups and business entities. The majority of the time, it would seem the issue is simply communication. The Business Relationship Manager role will help to ensure that requirements are clear and realistic expectations are set.

As with any IT group the Messaging and Collaboration team will benefit greatly from this role, complaints, requests and communications will be channeled to the appropriate parties, leaving IT professionals and developers to the value added task they’re assigned to.

IT Steering Group

I’ve made mention of an additional role in my descriptions above, officially it’s a role, however this role is actually a group: The IT Steering Group. Aside from references above, the responsibilities of this group include:

  • Setting the direction for IT Strategy as it relates to the Service catalogue
  • Reviewing IT and business strategies for alignment
  • Sets prioirity
  • Built as a cross-functional team consisting of senior management from the business and IT

The IT Steering Group ultimately decides what’s best from a Service Strategy perspective taking into consideration the information shared from each of the other processes and roles.

 

Well that’s all this week on Service Strategy, please come back next week for my article on Service Design. If you missed the Introduction article you can find it here.

As with the rest of the articles in this series this is just an introduction, ITIL is vast, and in order to full advantage of the framework I would recommend additional research.  If you have any specific questions or would like to continue the conversation further, please reach out in the comment section.

in the meantime please feel free to review some of my other posts, which can be seen here.

Also, please take a moment to learn a little more about our company.

Tags: Collaboration, ITIL, sla, Service Delivery, Lotus Domino Monitoring, mobile messaging, Messaging, Service Design, Reporting, lotus domino, Framework