USM principles

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USM specifies a service management architecture based on principles and not on practices. The outline of the USM principles is shown in the figure below. The principles are organized according to the domains of the service management system in the USM Customer-Provider Interaction Model.

The USM principles, depicted on the USM Customer-Supplier Interaction Model

Each principle is defined in accordance with how principles are defined in NORA & TOGAF: Title, Statement, Rationale, and Implications.

Principles versus practices: both are required for a management system that supports the daily routines.


Reduce complexity by segmenting and creating standardized building blocks, and apply those building blocks consistently in continuously improving service delivery.

USM follows a number of general principles. These principles are not USM-specific but apply universally, to all organizations that worked in a structured way, striving for sustainable improvement. USM explicitly follows these general principles.

GEN01 - Be consistent

Be consistent with the principles, but not uniform.

    • In order to achieve sustainable and robust results, the organization uses common structures for the service management system throughout the organization. The organization follows unambiguous principles and uses elementary building blocks in setting up the organization and its routines.
    • The organization applies these principles universally and consistently and uses the building blocks where applicable.
    • The organization uses an unambiguous list of terms.
    • Demonstrate for each routine how that routine relates to the common principles and the building blocks.
    • If a service is defined as a component facility and a component support, follow that classification in service agreements and then also in the corresponding service reports.
    • If the assessment of those components is formed by the elements functionality and functioning, also use that format in those service agreements and service reports.
    • If the process model on the (interactive) side of the customer consists of wishes, change requests, failure messages and service requests, then apply that format for all services and for all interfaces between sub-services.
    • If Separation of Duties is used between process and line management, use the same structures and profiles throughout the organization.

GEN02 - Reduce complexity

Make everything as simple as possible, but not too simple.

    • Complex systems lead to higher costs and more errors. Accepting a common, uniform routine is easier if that routine is constructed in a simple way.
    • Users should not be hindered by the complexity of the service.
    • Those involved will get the same picture of a routine more quickly if the complexity is limited.
    • Avoid superfluous material, superfluous actions, superfluous resources.
    • Limit the number of components in structures to the minimum necessary.
    • Use visual confirmation of routines and structures in a uniform design. In order to promote the recognizability of the management system to all parties involved, the organization uses:
      • simple structures and pictures
      • recognizable components
      • uniform and elementary colors
      • uniform dimensions
      • arrows for logical relations
    • This also applies to all the derived sub-management systems for subareas within the organization.
    • The organization has established a design policy and manual, which is followed by the entire organization.

GEN03 - Standardize

Standardization secures predictability of performance.

    • If a routine repeatedly leads to the same result, there is a predictive effect of following that standard: if the standard is followed under the same conditions, you can expect the result to be the same again.
    • Following standards contributes - under similar conditions - to the predictability of results. If you know what an effective and efficient routine looks like, you don't have to waste energy inventing the wheel over and over again.
    • Variation of routines and structures is necessary and desirable but based on the same common principles, because of the integrated performance of the entire organization. Avoid unnecessary variation when it comes to the same things. What is the same must be treated the same.
    • Standardization is a strategic instrument. It promotes the modularity of the service management system and thus its recognizability and learnability, and leads to better performance. Freedom in captivity is a strategy that serves both the integral performance and the freedom of action of teams and individuals.
    • Anyone who wants to deliver predictable performance would do well to standardize routines to such an extent that they guarantee the intended result and no more.
    • The organization manages all routines and artifacts for an integral overview: the integral collection of building blocks of the management architecture that applies to the integral service delivery. Components with the same functionality, which have the same purpose, are specified and set up in a similar way, in order to promote maximum reuse and mutual alignment.
    • Apply standardization to relevant topics and components of the service management system, for example:
      • standard process descriptions
      • standard workflows
      • standard calls
      • standard profiles for process and line management
      • standard tool configurations
      • standard forms
    • Standardization applies to all parts of the management system.

GEN04 - Segment

Structure systems by segmenting them and monitoring the relationships between components.

    • Complexity should be avoided as much as possible in order to keep systems manageable and controllable. Reduce complexity by dividing complex systems into subsystems and monitor the cohesion between the components.
    • Make an inventory of the infrastructure, the components into which it is divided, the routines, and see to it that unwanted complexity is avoided by directing it towards segmentation.
    • Set an upper limit on the size of projects and changes.
    • Include guidelines in routines, regulations, and checklists.
    • Audit the infrastructure and practices for compliance.

GEN05 - Improve continually

Improve service delivery continually to keep customers satisfied.

    • Customers get used to the quality delivered and expect that level as a minimum, even if delivery is above expectation.
    • Innovation in the market forces all service providers to continually improve their services in order to be able to continue to deliver in line with the market.
    • Adequate service delivery must, therefore, be continually improved.
    • The service provider steers for improvements in a structured way, by removing threats as well as realizing innovations.
    • Risk management is a standard part of the process model of the service provider.
    • Prioritization of risks (both innovations and threats) takes place through the same prioritization system as the prioritization of reactive actions.
    • The service provider manages a register of improvements. The service provider stimulates all employees and stakeholders to propose improvement initiatives, and handles these initiatives in a structured way.
    • Although the prioritization of proactive risks in USM follows the same schedule as the prioritization of reactive customer-provider interactions, in practice employees still frequently tend to prioritize reactive actions. To get those employees used to the required attention for risks, it is possible to introduce an additional incentive, in the form of reserving a minimum amount of time for handling risks. This incentive can help break 'the delusion of the day'.


Specify and evaluate services according to a simple and unambiguous structure.

USM applies the following principles:

S01 - Unambiguous specification of services

Specify each service in terms of facilities and support, in order to manage and integrate services unambiguously and uniformly.

    • Services are supported facilities.
    • A service is not only specified by the facility provided, but just as much by the support in using of that facility. This specification applies to all services within the entire organization.
    • This uniformity promotes the integration of sub-services into a comprehensive and integrated performance of the organization (Enterprise service management (ESM)).
    • Each service is specified in terms of facilities and support.
    • This classification applies, for example, to:
      • service agreements
      • service reports
      • request forms
      • customer satisfaction surveys
      • managed infrastructure registers

S02 - Unambiguous assessment of services

Assess a service unambiguously and uniformly in terms of its functionality and functioning.

    • Services are assessed in terms of their functioning and their functionality.
    • This applies to both the facilities and the support.
    • All service agreements are drawn up in terms of facilities and support, functionality and functioning.
    • All service reports follow the same structure.
    • Forms for requesting or modifying the services also follow that structure.
    • Customer satisfaction surveys follow the same structure.


The service provider is a system with three components: People (the people in the organization), Process (the processes used by these people), and Technology (the tools used by these people when performing the processes). Not only the characteristics óf those components, but especially the relationships betwéén those components (the routines) determine the performance of the service delivery system.


Processes describe (only) activities, in an unambiguous and structured manner, and are included in an integral and integrated process model. USM applies the following principles:

PR01 - Unambiguous specification of process

Throughout the organization, everyone consistently applies the same pure definition of the term 'process'.

    • The term 'process' is used all the time for matters which are not processes, but practical routines of the type of procedure or work instruction.
    • Processes are series of successive activities which lead to an intended result which is meaningful for the customer. Procedures and work instructions are not processes, but routines that are derived from processes.
    • All documentation follows the definitions of process, procedure, and work instruction.
    • Practices are referred to as practical routines and not as processes.
    • The following ten design criteria apply to processes:
      • [1] A process description deals only with the 'what' : the activities. There is no 'who' and 'how' in that description.
      • [2] A process consists only of activities and can thus be indicated with a verb.
      • [3] A process is countable: you can count how often the process has been executed, from start to finish.
      • [4] A process description is independent of practical conditions and therefore never contains a practical 'gateway' (◊: a choice in which the course of the process is split depending on that practical condition).
      • [5] In a customer-oriented service, all processes have a unique, customer-relevant goal.
      • [6] A process can be split up into sub-processes, but because of this the process does not change.
      • [7] A process model orders the processes.
      • [8] A process model is integral: it includes all activities for managing all services.
      • [9] A process model is integrated: each activity occurs only once in a process model.
      • [10] Processes are monitored (control) to ensure that the intended result is actually achieved.

PR02 - Process uniformity

Similar work is performed with similar processes, throughout the organization.

    • Service providers achieve better results with process-based work than with project-based or line-based work.
    • Processes are the shortest way to the goal: the realization of value for the customer. Process goes before project or line. What goes before who and how.
    • Routines are structured based on processes, and not based on organizational structures or products.
    • Process-based work supports the end-to-end overview and insight into the service delivery. In line-based work, that overview is missing: teams pass on their contributions to the end-result to each other in a supply chain, without being able to steer on that end-result. Project-based work can only make a partial contribution to the service delivery At the end of the day, the majority of routines is not project-based. Project-based work can therefore at most be complementary to the overall service delivery strategy.
    • All service providers and teams within the organization have the same processes for managing their service delivery. These processes are stable. The variation in routines lies in the people, the technology used, and the services produced.
    • The question who carries out the process activities varies over time, just like the technology resources that these employees use. Reorganizing is relocating tasks, authorities, and responsibilities (TAR), without adjusting those processes. In a reorganization, only procedures and/or practices are adjusted.
    • Culture also only influences the form in which an organization carries out its activities but not the processes in which those activities are included, or the goals of those processes.
    • A customer-driven service provider uses processes that deliver customer-relevant results.
    • All employees are familiar with the universal process model for managing service delivery.
    • All routines are derived from the same process modeling, and are set up according to the workflows of that process model.
    • All employee profiles are related to and structured according to the same process model, throughout the organization, for an organization-wide profile structure.

PR03 - Integral and integrated process model

The management system process model includes all activities relevant to managing service delivery and each activity appears only once in the process model.

    • The organization and management of work must be effective: all necessary actions must be carried out to achieve the intended result.
    • The organization and management of work must be efficient: avoid redundancy in the organization of work methods.
    • The management of services must be unambiguous: there is one management system for the service delivery of the entire organization, supporting an Enterprise Service Management strategy. The use of multiple management systems next to each other, with for example a project-based routine next to a process-based routine, limits effectiveness and efficiency.
    • The organization has established an explicit process model for the management of its service delivery. That process model applies to all teams of the organization.
    • All employees know the organization-wide process model and apply it when setting up and executing the activities and resources.


Organize the people in the organization in such a way that their duties, authorities, and responsibilities (TAR) do not have undesired overlap or conflicts, and it is clear to everyone who has what TAR.

USM applies the following principles:

PE01 - Separation of duties

Promote control by organizationally separating tasks, authorities, and responsibilities that may cause conflicts.

    • The dependence on services makes control necessary: agreed services must be realized in accordance with the agreements made. This applies not only within organizations, but also between organizations, in one-to-one relationships or in more complex supply chains or networks. Organizations should therefore take measures to be in control of the agreed mutual services.
    • The assurance mechanism Separation of Duties leads, for example, to the distinction between specification and realization: whoever realizes does not also specify. Separation of Duties prevents that one-and-the-same person both specifies and realizes, and does not notice the mistakes made in specifying because that same person made a fallacy. Conflicts of interest can also be prevented and combated with Separation of Duties.
    • Separation of Duties can assure different perspectives, and prevent one-sided assessment or control. Think of process- and line-based steering, matrix organizations, and the difference between governance and management.
    • Separation of Duties leads to controlability and thus contributes to control.
    • Separation of Duties can be applied to many objects, such as domains, organizational structures, tasks, processes.
    • Apply Separation of Duties to processes, by distinguishing between process management (specify) and line management (realize).
    • Support Separation of Domains within a discipline by distinguishing between functional management (specify) and technology management (realize).
    • Support matrix organizations by distinguishing between process coordination and team coordination.
    • The governance (monitoring, evaluating and steering) of the organization and the service delivery is separated from the management of service delivery (coordination and execution).
    • The separation of responsibilities by means of Separation of Duties has organizational consequences, in which the identified sub-tasks are assigned to one and the same profile (person) as little as possible. For small organizations, this is more difficult to organize than for large organizations: in a small organization, for example, Separation of Duties can be limited to tasks that can cause conflicts. Think of reactive and proactive tasks ("never make a help desk manager also responsible for risk management").

PE02 - Unambiguous steering

Organize the coordination of executive actions unambiguously, through either hierarchical lines or process logic.

    • The assured execution of work requires coordination. The organization must therefore first of all distinguish between coordinators and operators for each discipline. The system of coordination and execution is recursively 'stackable': it can be applied over and over again, creating a hierarchy in control.
    • Operators need to know who is authorized to coordinate their work, so that when it comes to prioritization issues they know who is responsible, and who is authorized to make decisions. A common traditional steering mechanism runs along the hierarchy of the organization (the 'rake'). This is management via the line: team-based coordination.
    • A more modern steering mechanism, which appears at a customer-driven maturity level, runs along the logic of the process. Processes at that maturity level are customer-driven and have a customer-relevant output. In order to be able to control those customer-relevant process results, the service provider can apply a process-based coordination. Not all organizations are already so mature that they can use this steering mechanism in practice.
    • Project-based coordination is also an option, but this is not common in a service-driven or customer-driven organization. Projects do not serve sustainable support: they only relate to the change (from 'A' to 'B'), and projects are used for a limited part of the activities.
    • For each discipline, the service provider makes a distinction between coordination and execution: for each team, the coordinator profile is explicitly designated as a distinction to the executor profile in that task area.
    • The service provider explicitly chooses either team-based (hierarchical) steering or process-based steering (logical).
    • Escalation schedules are attuned to that choice: in team-based steering, the process coordinator escalates (in case of conflicts). In process-based steering, the team coordinator escalates (in case of conflicts).


The tools for the people in the organization support the optimal execution of their work. USM applies the following principle:

T01 - Technology follows process

Technological tools support employees in carrying out their activities in the processes, and are not leading.

    • Technological resources (tooling) should support the desired routines of employees, and not determine. The choice of technology is thus the result of a demand and not the result of a push of technological possibilities.
    • If the demand changes, the design of the technology also changes.
    • The organization first determines which technological support is required for its routines. After that, the organization selects the technology based on the extent to which that technology supports the routines.
    • All purchased tools can be traced back to a functional wish with regard to these routines.
    • If the routines change, then the technology follows that design.
    • If technology is no longer capable of adequately supporting the desired routines, then that technology will be replaced by more suitable technology.


Organize the work in integral and integrated routines via workflows that follow the logic of the process model, and communicate in a structured way.

USM applies the following principles:

R01 - Systematic routines

Optimal service delivery requires a systematic and structured design of routines, categorized by process, procedure and work instruction.

    • Structured routines lead to predictable service.
    • Routines can be subdivided into processes, procedures and work instructions, based on their composition.
    • In the management system, an integrated and integral process model is the basis for the design of all routines.
    • Practical routines are a derivative of an explicitly defined, integrated, and integral process model.
    • The technique to derive routines of the type procedure and work instruction from that process model is known to all employees involved in specifying workflows.
    • The organization manages the process model at a central position.

R02 - Workflows

Organize all work according to a uniform set of workflows.

    • Practical routines are a derivative of workflows in an integrated process model.
    • The workflows are the shortest way to execute the work in response to all requests from or on behalf of customers and enable efficient and effective service delivery.
    • The organization's management system specifies the standard workflows with the basic information of the process model.
    • An integral and integrated process model has a limited set of workflows that apply to all disciplines and activities of the organization.
    • There is a set of templates for standard workflows, with the basic information from the process model.
    • The workflow templates are available to all employees involved.
    • The technique to derive practical workflows of the type procedure and work instruction from the workflow templates is known to all employees involved in specifying workflows.
    • The organization manages the workflow templates at a central position.

R03 - Structured communication

Support structured routines with structured communication.

    • A good service delivery can come across as bad because of bad communication. Conversely, poor service delivery can be compensated by good communication.
    • Communication is an essential part of the service delivery and requires an approach as structured as the service delivery itself.
    • A systematic service delivery requires equally systematic communication. Communication is therefore first designed, before it is developed and applied.
    • Text strategy is an adequate tool for a systematic build-up of communication, regardless of the chosen communication channel. Text strategy can be fully integrated with the service organization's management system. It can be used for any communication product:
      • a confirmation email to a user
      • a progress report
      • a plan of action
      • a presentation
      • a service agreement
      • a profile description
      • an invitation to a meeting
      • a web page
      • a quotation
    • For the application of text strategy a freeware tool is available, in the form of the text preparation form (TPF).


Apply the service provider principles consistently across supply chains and networks.

USM applies the following principles:

SC01 - Universal principles

Principles of service management apply to all disciplines of the organization, both primary and secondary. Service management is everyone's job.

    • To deliver a consistent performance as an organization:
      • all teams follow the same principles for their contribution to the organization-wide result
      • each team takes responsibility for the team's contribution to that joint performance
    • All teams test their improvement initiatives against the organization-wide principles before starting.
    • A team solves a conflict with such a principle by adjusting its improvement initiative.
    • All teams contribute to the decision making about the organization's service delivery.

SC02 - Enterprise interest is core

Team decisions all serve the enterprise interest.

    • Decisions made from an organization-wide ('enterprise') perspective are more sustainable than decisions made from a partial perspective.
    • Team initiatives should not harm the interests of the whole organization.
    • Since the organization is a service provider, all teams focus on contributing to the quality of that service and the creation of value for the customers.
    • The common interest of the organization takes precedence over the local interest of teams and individuals.
    • Within these limits, each team must be able to do its job.
    • Decentralize decision making as much as possible and avoid sub-optimization by making team decisions serve the organization-wide interest.
    • Team plans and initiatives are in line with the organization-wide strategy.
    • Teams adjust their choices for the benefit of the entire organization if their choices do not meet the requirement that the results contributes to the organization's service delivery performance.
    • Resources from individual teams and disciplines are shared with the rest of the organization.
    • Priorities for investments are taken by the organization for the organization.
    • Adjusting priorities in subdomains is a joint responsibility for a board in which the entire organization is represented.
    • Employees should have sufficient knowledge/expertise and be aware of the direction of the organization/department to be able to make as many decisions independently as possible. This benefits the speed of decision making and also takes into account locally available information.

SC03 - Supply chain aware

Teams and organizations are aware of the fact that as a service provider they are only a link in supply chains and networks. What applies within organizations with regard to cooperation and integration also applies between organizations.

    • Every service provider has suppliers. Every supplier also has suppliers. Every service provider has customers. Every customer also has customers. Every performance depends on the performance of others, so everyone has to take supply chain and network effects into account.
    • Delivering services in supply chains and networks requires mutual alignment of the routines of the participants.
    • The supporting disciplines within an organization strive for the maximum joint relief of the primary (business) disciplines. Providing support from an island position is not efficient.
    • Collaboration in supply chains and networks requires a switching technique between service providers.
    • The cooperation requires at least a mutual alignment of the interfaces of the service providers in the supply chain or network.
    • Interactions between service providers are primarily classified according to the reactive processes of the process model: wish, change request, failure report (incident), and service request. Service providers that collaborate on improvement initiatives also have an interaction in their proactive process. All communication between service providers relates to one of these interactions.
    • All facility (secondary) task areas within an organization are supporting the primary tasks.
    • Internal service providers work together in an integrated way to support the primary tasks of the organization. Integration of supporting disciplines is central to the execution of this support.


Strive for value creation in a mature service delivery, by focusing on the customer's interests.

USM applies the following principles:

CV01 - Value creation

Service delivery is focused on value creation, at least with the customer.

    • Mature service delivery is customer-driven. The service provider strives to serve the interests of the customer as much as possible.
    • Service providers who are service- or system-driven (according to the USM Value Maturity Model), do not focus on value creation in service provision, but on the supply of resources. All activities of the mature service provider are focused on the ultimate goal: value creation.
    • The service provider has a genuine interest in the customer, and wishes to make the customer happy with the facilities and support offered. Every employee strives to contribute to the integral quality of service.
    • The services must be effective: they must contribute directly to the customer's intended goals and thus create value.
    • Optimal service delivery requires a balance in the maturity of the customer and the service provider.
    • Service providers know and understand their customers' business.
    • Service agreements are described in terms of the customer's business interests, and specify how the facilities and support contribute to these.
    • To support proactive service delivery, it is possible to bring in an additional incentive, in the form of reserving a minimum amount of time for handling risks. This incentive can help break 'the delusion of the day' and support continuous service improvement, so that customer interests are concretely served by eliminating threats and exploiting innovations.

CV02 - Customer-driven

The interests of the customer are the starting point for the design of services.

    • The service provider knows the customer's interests and needs, responds optimally to these, and understands the impact of the service delivery on the customer's business.
    • The service provider sets up the interface for all customer contacts in such a way that the customer finds it meaningful, and uses the customer's language.
    • The customer determines the quality of the service. The customer's assessment is partly based on the user's assessment. Quality is the difference between expectation and experience by the customer.
    • Besides user assessment, other aspects play a role; financial assessment, continuity assessment, market reputation, and any other aspects the customer considers important. The service provider takes the interests of all customers into account in all its activities.
    • The service provider also takes into account the relative maturity of the customer, according to the USM Value Maturity Model.
    • The service provider involves the customer as much as necessary and possible in the handling of the service delivery and keeps the customer well-informed so that the customer can take the support into account in the execution of its business.
    • The service provider regularly discusses with the customer how the service can be improved.
    • The service provider regularly measures customer satisfaction (the difference between expectation and experience) and uses the results to improve the service.
    • The service provider does not bother the customer with internal provider issues.
    • The service provider prioritizes all service delivery activities according to one uniform system, where the interest of the customer and the agreements made with the customer are leading for the choice which activity is done first and which is done later.
    • Threats and innovations are thus prioritized according to the same system as failures or changes.