More on Service Lifecycle Management

I received two questions in my email regarding my previous post on Service Lifecycle Management, specifically:

  • Who within an organization would be a service manager?
  • To whom would the service manager market services?

These are both excellent questions, and really hit at the heart of the culture change. If you look at the typical IT organization today, there may not be anyone that actually plays the role of a service manager. At its core, the service manager is a relationship manager- managing the interactions with all of the service consumers. What makes this interesting is when you think about exposing services externally. Using the concept of relationship management, it is very unlikely that the service manager would be someone from IT, rather, it’s probably someone from a business unit that “owns” the relationship with partners. IT is certainly involved, and it’s likely that technical details of the service interaction are left to the IT staff of each company, but the overall relationship is owned by the business. So, if we only consider internal services, does the natural tendency to keep service management within IT make sense? This approach has certain risks associated with it, because now IT is left to figure out the right direction through potentially competing requirements from multiple consumers, all the while having the respective business units breathing down their neck saying, “Where’s our solution?” At the same time, it’s also very unlikely that business is structured in such a way to support internal service management. Many people would say that IT is often better positioned to see the cross-cutting concerns of many of these elements. So, there are really two answers to the question. The first answer is someone. Not having a service owner is even more problematic than choosing someone from either IT or the business who may have a very difficult task ahead of them. The second answer is that the right person is going to vary by organization. I would expect that organizations whose SOA efforts are very IT driven, which I suspect is the vast lot of them, would pick someone within IT to be the service manager. I would expect that person to have an analyst and project management background, rather than a technical background. After all, this person needs to manage the consumer relationship and understand their requirements, but they also must plan the release schedule for service development. For organizations whose SOA efforts are driven jointly with the business, having a service manager within a business organization will probably make more sense, depending on the organizational structure. Also, don’t forget about the business of IT. There will be a class of services, typically in the infrastructure domains, such as authentication and authorization services, that will probably always be managed out of IT.

On question number two, I’m going to take a different approach to my answer. Clearly, I could just say, “Potential service consumers, of course” and provide no help at all. Why is that no help? Because we don’t know who represents those service consumers. Jumping on a common theme in this blog, most organizations are very project-driven, not service or product driven. When looking for potential service consumers, if everything is project driven, those consumers that don’t exist in the form of a project can’t be found! I don’t have a background in marketing, but I have to believe that there are probably some techniques from general product marketing that can applied within the halls of the business to properly identify the appropriate segment for a service. The real point that needs to be made is that a service manager can not take the field of dreams approach of simply building it, putting some information into the repository, and then hoping consumers find it. They have to hit the pavement and go talk to people. Talk to other IT managers whom you know use the same underlying data that your service does. Talk to your buddies at the lunch table. Build your network and get the word out. At a minimum, when a service is first identified, send a blast out to current project managers and their associated tech leads, as well as those that are in the project approval pipeline. This will at least generate some just-in-time consumers. While this may not yield the best service, it’s a start. Once some higher level analysts efforts have taken place to segment the business into business domains, then the right marketing targets may be more clearly understood.

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