Too often, we in IT get so busy performing the day-to-day work and fighting the many fires that come at us each day that we neglect to take a moment and focus on ways we can be strategic about how we do our jobs. 

When building or expanding IT Service Management offerings, it’s important to understand how taking time to focus on service strategy can greatly improve the efficiency of service delivery.

First, let’s begin by defining a few terms.

What is ITSM (IT Service Management)?

IT Service Management is a strategic approach for designing, delivering, managing and improving the way information technology (IT) is used within an organization. The goal of IT Service Management is to ensure that the right processes, people and technology are in place, so that the organization can meet its business goals.

What is IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)? 

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) refers to a group of documents created in the 1980s that provide a framework and best practices for building an IT Service Management (ITSM) solution. By following the recommended ITIL processes, organizations supporting an IT infrastructure can increase efficiency, while reducing service management costs.

What is a service strategy process?

ITIL defines five major areas to service strategy that can accelerate organizational success:

  1. Strategy management for IT services: assessment and measurement of IT strategy
  2. Service portfolio management: defining and documenting IT services.
  3. Financial management for IT services: determining IT service costs and budgeting.
  4. Demand management: forecasting future demand for IT services and budgeting resources.
  5. Business relationship management: managing the feedback and improvement of the IT services.

To properly manage your environment, you need to first design a plan, then determine the type of services you are delivering, validate all costs and budgets, forecast demand, learn how to gather feedback and perform continuous service improvements. 

How to design a service portfolio strategy

Design the plan

Constructing a service portfolio can be one of the most challenging tasks for an IT organization. It is essential to resist the temptation of continuing outdated practices and strive for success.[EC4] 

Try surveying your end user community to understand their challenges and ever-changing needs. You can narrow down the survey results to capabilities you have within your IT organization and put in place services to support these needs. Caution should be taken to ensure that you follow best practice guidelines for enabling services the drive consistency and end-user process improvements.

Determine the type of service(s) you are delivering

Deciding on the type of service you’re offering today and wish to deliver in the future is a critical piece that will help you understand and minimize how many actual services you are delivering. 

Consolidate where you can maximize resource usage, improve application management, and simplify the end user’s process for selecting assistance with the desired services. Too many services will complicate the end user’s interactions with the IT support organization. 

Ensure that you evaluate your current services regularly to determine if they are necessary and consider potential services you may want to add in the future. Additionally, take the time to properly set up your nomenclature to reduce the need for future changes.

Validate all costs and budgets

Evaluating the cost of services needs to include not only personnel, software, hardware, services, but also soft costs, such as the cost and/or reduction in time for the people consuming those services. 

Understanding soft costs can make a significant difference in expressing the value of services you’re delivering.

Forecast resource demand 

The ever-changing world of IT and the consumers of the services makes resource demand forecasting very challenging. However, by understanding what services you are delivering and the historical need for them, you can extrapolate what your demand could be. 

Resource consumption adaptability and tasks automation can minimize the negative impact of any forecast changes.

Perform continuous service improvement

The only way to improve your capabilities within an organization is with continual service improvement (CSI). Put relevant analysis and reporting in place to better understand the services you are delivering, the SLAs behind them and how they preform from the perspective of end user satisfaction. 

Metrics such as mean time to repair (MTTR), cost per ticket, reopen rate of incidents, call avoidance via self-service, and AI bots and volume by department or location are critically important to help establish improvement initiatives. 

With accurate metrics, isolate and focus on areas that require improvement.  Lastly, assign a cost to each improvement initiative and prioritize strategically based on cost versus value. 

It’s been often stated that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  Although some ITIL recommendations might not be practical for every organization, they are a great place to start when building an IT Service Management solution.  

The ITIL service strategy processes focus on planning for an outcome and evaluating your performance against customer expectations. ITIL encourages periodic evaluation and amendments of processes to respond to the ever-changing environment, with the aim of being more effective in delivering service value to your organization.