In Developing an IT Service Strategy Part 1, an overview of the challenges faced by CIO’s in setting an IT service strategy from customer introduced variability was covered. The approach followed in Part 1 represented updated ideas inspired by the work of Frances X. Frei, Professor Harvard Business School who has written extensively and very insightfully on managing service businesses and his article Breaking the Trade-Off Between Efficiency Versus Service. If you haven’t yet read this article please do, you will find it strengthens you perspective on developing your own service strategy.
Part 2 picks up with how to deal with the challenges variability presents in the forms of having to decide if variability should be limited or if it should be supported by service level agreements. This can be thought of as deciding between the efficiency and service. Put another way, if variability should be accommodated as a way of enhancing the quality and value of the service or if it should be reduced as part of containing costs or improving consistency. Either way, I am sure every CIO struggles with which way to go. But there are alternative approaches put forward by Frei as shown in the slides here.
As you see quality and cost are not always at odds with each other. There are strategies you can employ to allow for accommodating greater variability in your IT services without breaking the bank. Similarly, you can use reduction strategies that might not cause service quality to suffer. Additional insights into what options you might be able to use can be developed from the HBR article and working with your team.
Service Level Agreements
I know I am not alone when I say this is a very complex and challenging part of every CIO’s responsibility when developing an IT service strategy. So be careful your IT service strategy isn’t limited to simply negotiating basic support SLA/OLA’s with your organization and governance body. CIO’s should take this opportunity to realize that setting an SLA for help desk support on a particular service first requires clear understanding of how much variability you will likely face and need to accommodate. Not just from the view of governance but also from your users perspective since they will judge the quality of the service for themselves.
The IT service strategy final challenge is in how you communicate the complexities of your strategy with your user community without it feeling like you are “setting expectations” or choosing your priorities over their needs and good customer service. And as before, I encourage you to adapt this presentation for your own use as one way of working through that conversation with your organization.