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The Four Dimensions of Service Management

For every system that is utilized to provide a service, there are four dimensions of service management. If we are to think and work holistically that means that every practice, and every aspect of service management for services need to be considered in light of these four dimensions.

Organizations and People

The aspects of the organization and people dimension are all related to the creation, delivery and improvement of services. To improve these aspects, everyone in an organization must understand its objectives and how they contribute to those objectives. It is not uncommon to see organizations restructuring in an effort to reap the benefits of Agile, Lean and DevOps practices. Organizations are increasingly forming cross-functional teams or product teams in an effort to break down silos and enable more effective collaboration. None of this can be accomplished without understanding how powerful the culture is in terms of its influence on organizations and individuals. Focus here must be on the people! A healthy organization culture begins with shared values, collaboration and trust.

Information and Technology

Common throughout these four dimensions of service management is the fact the they apply not only to management but also to the services that are being managed. The Information and Technology dimension of service management is no exception. It includes the required technologies and the knowledge needed to manage services. Focus here should ensure the relationships between different components of the service value system, such as the inputs and outputs of activities and practices. Organizations do not want to find themselves slipping behind and must seek out and adopt technologies that have become common practice. To ensure the use of emerging technologies, the information architecture of services should be well understood and continually assessed for optimization. Information criteria ensures availability, security reliability and compliance. For most services, information management is the primary means of enabling customer value.

Partners and Suppliers

This dimension encompasses an organizations relationship with other organizations that are involved in the design, development and delivery of a service. This dimension also includes support and ongoing improvement of services. Because this dimension is built on relationships with other organizations it must also incorporates contracts and agreements required. An organizations supplier strategy defines the plan for how it will leverage the contribution of supplier in achievement of its overall service management strategy.

Value Streams and Processes

Value Steams and Processes is a dimension that is applied to the entire service value system and is concerned with how the various parts of the organization work in an integrated and coordinated way to ensure value creation. Value streams and processes are sets of defined activities. Value streams represent a macro level view of activities and are artificially simple enough to reflect the flow of information and materials. This high level (macro) view makes it easier to identify and better yet to address waste. A process is a lower-level-view and defines the sequence of activities and decision points needed to fulfill the activities in the value stream. Business requirements are dynamic and therefore we must be consistently improving our service value system to ensure that the organization achieves its objectives in an optimal way.

Peter Senge, a scientist and senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management says it best. “…Vision without systems thinking end up painting lovely pictures of the future with no deep understanding of the forces that must be mastered to move from here to there.” Master the forces!


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