Developing an IT Service Strategy (Part 1)

Hand placing a globe into the word "support" in place of the letter "O"IT service strategy development presents many challenges for CIO’s in any organization. That is because the IT service strategy is core to everything you do. For those organizations following an ITSM approach you are likely working from a service lifecycle approach or perhaps starting from with a particular pain point identified from a heat map of issues.

Regardless of how you get arrive at your IT service strategy, eventually the issue of what level of service is required must be addressed. This can be one of the more challenging activities an IT leader faces in their career. But don’t forget how challenging it is for your customers and other stakeholders who need to work with CIO’s in setting the service level. If you consider how “setting expectations” is received by your customers you’ll understand why a different approach is needed and why I began using this method a couple of years ago.

IT Service Strategy and Variability

The approach used in developing this 2-part series was inspired by the work of Frances X. Frei, Professor Harvard Business School who has written extensively and very insightfully on managing service businesses. His thinking on service businesses applies directly to the IT service strategy development. My initial contact with Frei’s work was his article Breaking the Trade-Off Between Efficiency Versus Service which I hope you will find time to read so I won’t go into it here.
[slideshare id=7747247&doc=itservicestrategy-110427004335-phpapp02]

IT Service Strategy and SLA’s

The presentation on IT Service Strategy is thought to offer a more comfortable way for you and your customers to discuss the challenges you face running a service organization in addition to the challenges of being your customer. But the presentation is just a framework for facilitating that discussion on service levels and how to best deal with customer introduced variability in the services you provide. You will need to draw upon the article and your experience to have non-IT examples to illustrate the 5 categories of customer introduced service variability.

Consider including a brief discussion on the difference in IT department cultures and how it affects service level agreements. I also find it useful to also conclude the discussion on each category by capturing a consensus on if there should be more or less variability of each category allowed or not. If you have student response systems (aka clickers) that can be a good way to gather that data making it easy to invite broader input into the process.

Part 2 Dealing With Variability with cover the approaches to be used for reduction and accommodation in your IT service strategy which Frei describes in his article.

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