USM's service management architecture

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Architecture, which defines the fundamental organization of a system, is characterized by its components, the relationships between those components and with their environment, and the principles that are used to guide the design and further development of the objects involved. As such, service management also has its own architecture: the service management architecture (SMA).

Service management architecture (SMA)

Service management architecture (SMA): The fundamental organization of a service management system in its components, their relationships with each other and the environment, and the principles that guide its design and development.

Architecture enables an organization to make consistent decisions in the future. If you are considering improving your service organization, then a service management method (SMM) based on a powerful service management architecture is the appropriate approach. Practical means and instruments have been made available on the basis of a sound theoretical foundation. With USM this approach is made suitable for all types of service delivery. The USM method is independent of the tools that your organization already uses.

Service management architecture (SMA) is a unique offer of the SURVUZ Foundation, assisting organizations to use a standardized service management method throughout their organization. This standardization enables the integration of services and disciplines in an Enterprise Service Management strategy or an Integrated Facility Management strategy.

USM applies a three-layer architecture according to the image below.

  • The essential components are Process, People, and Technology.
  • The interactions between the three are defined in terms of routines.
  • The process architecture is standardized for all service providers of any size in any line of business.
  • The people architecture is only specified in terms of a small set of principles and recommended structures.
  • The technology architecture is specified only in terms of a categorization of tool types and a set of basic features that any effective service delivery coordination tool should have to be able to support the USM management system.
The three-layered Service Management Architecture model

Frameworks, models and standards

Applying an SMA to a practical situation often leads to the use frameworks. Most of these are determined by a best practice approach: these frameworks describe routines and facilities that (apparently) work well in practice. Examples are ITIL, ASL, BiSL, COBIT, FitSM, and IT4IT.

When applying an SMA, information architecture models are always important: all management systems use information flows. These models (TOGAF, eTOM, etc.) mainly offer guidance in terms of the design of information processing. These models are also largely determined by a best practice approach.

In addition, standards play a role: general standards describe formal requirements that have been accepted to a greater or lesser extent by the market. Compliance with such standards feeds the confidence that an organization that complies with it does "good". These standards are also largely determined by a best practice approach. Examples include ISO20000, ISO27000, ISO9000, ISO15504 (SPICE), ISO41000 and their derived products such as TIPA.

Rules versus principles

All these sources actually provide information about the goals to be achieved, and can therefore be characterized as rule-based approaches that originate in best practices. For example, anyone who thinks that an organization can be efficiently set up by introducing the 100+ practices of ITIL, ASL, BiSL, and COBIT, and combining these on interfaces, fights a lost battle. A more sustainable approach can be found with a principle-based approach, as provided by an SMA (read "Rules versus principles"). USM made a very explicit choice in terms of its underpinning principles.

Benefits of an SMA

The SMA has all the regular benefits of an architecture, but an SMA directly influences the core business of any organization - as all organizations are service providers: creating value for customers by means of delivering the supported facilities the customers needs for its business. This means that an organization should first set up its SMA, and only then set up its (technological) solution architecture.

In the metaphore of a building: the SMA acts as the foundation of the organization, while the (best) practices are used to populate the floors. The USM SMA is the universal foundation of all service providers. The SMA can be used in practice to realize the goals - or any combination of goals - of different frameworks, models and standards. I all cases, the organization first determines its goals and its management to realize these goals, before selecting and applying any bset practice guidance or any popular technique. This way, the why is always answered before the how is created. Following that approach prevents the known relapse behavior when applying best practices, and saves the organization costs and lead time of improvement projects. In short:

   A sustainable improvement of a service organization requires a service management architecture.