Balance in Operation III

In every organization the one constant is change.  In service operation, all functions, processes and related activities have been designed to deliver specific level services.  These services deliver defined and agreed levels of utility and warranty and doing so while delivering an overall value to the business.  The catch is this has to be done in an ever changing environment where requirements, deliverables and perceived value changes over time.  Sometimes this change can be evolutionary or can take place at a very fast pace.

This forms a conflict between maintaining the status quo and adapting to changes in the business and technological environments.  One of the key roles of service operation is to deal with the tension between these ever changing priorities.
This struggle can be broken down into four general imbalances that provide the service provider an opportunity to develop some guidelines to resolve these conflicts:

·         Internal  IT view vs. External business view

·         Stability vs.  Responsiveness

·         Service  quality vs. Cost

·         Reactive vs. Proactive
We will focus today on one of the more difficult elements to bring into balance: service quality versus service cost.

Early in a service lifecycle it is possible to achieve significant increases in the quality of a service with a relatively small amount of money.  For example, increasing availability or creating some enhanced functionality maybe easily accomplished with a relatively small amount of additional resources.  After a service has had time to mature it can become quite expensive and resource intensive to increase measures of quality to the customers and end users.  For example, improving the same service as mentioned above from say 98% availability to 99.9% availability or delivering some additional capability to a more finite group of users can be cost prohibitive.

Determining the optimal balance of cost and quality should be determined during the service strategy and service design phases of the lifecycle, however it is often left to service operation teams whom are generally not equipped nor have the authority to make those levels of decisions.
Having strong and well defined Service Level Requirements and Service Level Agreements from Business Relationship Management (BRM)) and Service Level Management (SLM) should create a clear understanding of the business purpose and potential risks in meeting customer needs.
It is crucial that we achieve a balance between these two views.  Services must be designed and delivered around customer needs and requirements.  They must have the ability to create the desired business outcomes for the users and deliver necessary value to the customer.   At the same time, however, it can be possible to compromise those needs and requirements by not properly planning the cost of delivering those services. 

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