Friday, September 28, 2012

5 Aspects of a Holistic Service Design in IT Service Management

This is probably not the first time you have heard the word 'holistic'.  Have you pondered over the thought of what is the actual meaning of the word holistic and why it is used so much in the IT world these days? Well, this blog post will help shed some light on this topic. Miriam's Webster Dictionary defines holistic as : relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.

Holistic Service Design Plant in hand image - Bluefrog Technologies LLC

Holistic medicine concerns with approaching treatment to the whole body rather than just treating the symptoms of an existing condition. Similarly, when approaching service design, we must take a complete, big picture perspective of the overall service that is being designed. It should not be done in isolation, the impact on the entire service, its management, tools, systems and architectures, other supporting processes and metrics should also be considered. 

A holistic approach to Service Design takes into consideration the 5 key aspects within all its process activities. It ensures that consistency and integration within all IT activities and processes are achieved both in function and quality.

The 5 key aspects to a holistic approach in service design are:

1) Gathering Service requirements for new and/or changed services: Requirements for new or changed services can be elicited through requirements analysis or extracted from an organization's service portfolio. Each requirement needs to be carefully evaluated, documented and agreed upon, so that the design document can be constructed.  This design document can then be compared to the strategy and constraints of the IT's service strategy to ensure that it is conforming to existing policies. Also, it must ensure that the new or changed service is easily integrated with the existing services and other underpinning services that support it.

2) Leveraging Information management tools like service portfolio and service catalog: The existing management tools must be closely evaluated to ensure that they are capable of supporting the new or changed service. Some of the key management systems in a service oriented organization are its service portfolio and catalog. These reside within the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) and contain details on the design of the service, technology architectures and measurement methods & metrics.

3)Integration with Enterprise technology architectures and management architectures: Any new or changed service needs to be aligned with the organization's existing technology and management architecture to remain consistent and to ensure that the service is operable within the constraints of the existing architecture. If not, then either the architectures would need to be updated or the service's design would require modification to be successful.

4)Discovery of the processes required: As with any new or changed service, there is impact to roles, responsibilities and skills of individuals involved. Existing processes need to be reviewed to ensure that the new or changed process is not creating a major impact on how they function. If it is, steps need to be taken to educate personnel in their changing roles and processes need to be updated to accomodate for the new or updated service. This includes all service management processes, not just the one process in question.

5) Measurement metrics and methods: This is an often overlooked aspect when new or changed services are introduced. Existing measurements methods and metrics need to be reviewed and updated so that the new or changed service can be accurately measured and tracked. This might not be required if the change to an existing service is minor or does not impact the measurement metrics.

Considering the above 5 key aspects during the service design phase ensures that the new or changed service is integrated into the existing environment consistently and with minimal impact to the user.  ITIL's foundational principle is about IT as a service organization focusing on the business processes it supports and the value that the business receives or realizes as a result of its service. Hence, as a result of this model, the impact of technology on the business and how a business change may impact IT can both be predicted and measured. Adoption of a holistic approach to service design ensures that all aspects of the organization are considered and included within all new or changed services. 

Do you currently practice a holistic approach to service design in your organization or have an example of an approach that has worked for you in your organization? I would love to hear it! Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

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