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Ask any chief information officer (CIO) what he or she is doing to contribute to the success of the enterprise, and the CIO will respond with a list of all the strategic IT projects currently under way. However, if you were to poll that IT executive's customers, a different line of discussion would emerge. Although some customers might well focus on the recent move to E-commerce or the introduction of an enterprise resource planning system, most would talk with great intensity about network availability, system response time, the quality of help desk personnel, and the overall reliability of the organization's hardware and software platforms. In short, the typical corporate customer values IT as a utility: always there, always on, and as dependable as your wristwatch. Indeed, those IT organizations that are highly regarded by their parent institutions have earned this standing because of their attention to and success in day-to-day service delivery.
Excellence in service delivery comes to those IT teams that commit energy, resources, and focus to the seemingly mundane yet essential management components of IT performance. Other chapters in this book consider IT planning and alignment processes, organizational design, and project management best practices. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a series of frameworks for the effective positioning and communication of service delivery management within an IT organization and between that organization and its customers. Although excellence in service delivery is the responsibility of the entire IT organization, good housekeeping practices require their own champions. IT management must serve as these champions, while the PMO provides operational assistance and support. With that in mind, the chapter offers a series of illustrative models for day-to-day oversight and measurement of IT performance in the mission-critical areas of customer care and satisfaction. Here, too, the PMO can help the rest of IT maintain these practices.
To that end, it makes sense to say a few words about the concepts underlying IT service delivery management and the extent to which the reader's organization embraces these values. Let me begin with the work principles for the design of service delivery processes.  These are guiding principles that I employ in modeling service delivery scenarios for my own IT organization. First, I ask myself, "What should my customer experience in interacting with IT?" Then I consider how I would like my IT colleagues to view their roles in these service delivery scenarios. Your PMO team is properly positioned to discover what principles and associated scenarios will work for your IT organization. To facilitate this self-examination, adapt this series of value statements to set targets for your own IT team's performance:
Single window/seamless service — services will be delivered in a customized manner to all customers through an integrated, single window, a so-called single point of service. Such an environment will provide the customer with a sense of personalized, focused, and responsive attention while achieving economies of scale and efficiencies in performance for the enterprise as a whole.
Streamlining — all processes between the customer and the enterprise's IT service providers will be minimized through the elimination of unnecessary steps, forms, and procedures; the reduction of management layers; and the provision of more direct contact between service providers and customers.
Choices — customers will be given choices about services and how these are delivered. Flexibility, responsiveness, and choice will become the hallmarks of reengineered IT business processes.
Consistency — within the IT unit, and between the IT team and its enterprise customers, the same processes and services will be conducted and delivered in the same way, eliminating unnecessary complexity and its associated costs.
Location and time independence — thanks to IT (and where practical and cost justifiable), customers and service providers will have access to information and services at any time and from many places.
Continuous improvement of service — processes and services will be improved on an ongoing basis. The customer-driven measurement mechanisms embedded in these service processes will provide the basis for their continuous improvement. These same measures will afford the quantitative, as well as qualitative, means of assessing IT's value to the greater enterprise.
Given these customer service objectives, the reader can perhaps envision how enterprisewide IT operations might be transformed. Indeed, my illustrations may suggest service delivery scenarios that are different from the way your team currently thinks of its role within the enterprise. Although your team's focus must be on the customer and how best to serve his or her needs, your customer is also a partner in, not the lord and master of, IT service delivery. The values of convenience and ease of use must be weighed against practical cost and operational considerations. The key to success is to find the right balance. Solicit feedback from all sides. In the end, however, your management team must make informed choices and live within the constraints imposed by your business, your budget, and the technologies at hand. The following list of customer service scenarios is not definitive, but it does illustrate some possible outcomes of applying these values and principles to actual IT-enabled business process scenarios:
Automatic service — in this service scenario, a customer's own computer system generates a service request, and the supplier's system provides a response, with minimal human intervention. For example, an inventory control system might identify the depletion of a product from warehouse shelves and automatically reorder that product from the appropriate supplier. Although human intervention is required in the review of system rules, inventory-level parameters, and the like, once these rules are in place, the system will run on its own and at little ongoing cost to the enterprise.
Self-service (electronic) — this mode of service delivery has come into its own in recent years. Customers use workstations, kiosks, or telephones to access information and to generate transactions, orders, and payments, resulting in reduced or eliminated paperwork and fewer approval steps. Automated teller machines, banking and investing by phone, and more recently shopping via the Internet are well known examples of IT-enabled self-service at its best.
Self-service (walk-in) — Wal-Mart®, Home Depot, Inc.®, and catalog distribution centers have demonstrated the success of this service delivery model. In it, customers seek information, goods, and services by visiting common walk-in centers, where service providers use computerized systems to respond effectively and efficiently. Of course, government agencies may be the counter-proof of this model, but for some applications it clearly works. The single-point-of-service strategy is particularly attractive in settings where the processes are complex or the choices are many. For example, the delivery of academic and administrative support services in colleges and universities lends itself to this type of design.
Service with on-site support — at times, the most effective mode of service delivery is on-site. In this circumstance, local experts provide multiple services for multiple customers and cross-functional service providers, maximizing the benefits of information technology and minimizing duplication and paperwork. Many aspects of employee training and development, information resource management, and IT support lend themselves to on-site servicing, where a knowledgeable person may respond in a customized and timely manner to situations as they arise.
Specialist/expert service center — at times, the problem or the customer requirement in a particular service setting demands the attention of a specialist. It would be economically and logistically impossible to provide such a person physically at each location and for each instance when such expertise is required. Fortunately, through the enterprise's information network, service providers and their customers can access experts — both human and computer-based — directly and quickly, reducing the need to duplicate similar services and improving the rate and success of customer response within an economical framework. Consulting firms, engineering firms, law offices, hospitals, and high-tech companies all typically leverage expertise in this manner.
Supplier interfaces (entire enterprise) — finally, one can envision a service delivery scenario in which suppliers and customers are connected directly to each other. Such an arrangement, in the case of missing parts, out-of-stock items, or subcontracted expertise, can lead to prompt responses to customer needs without the added time and expense of obtaining assistance from the distributor or general contractor of the service. For this model to work, suppliers and customers must be viewed and view themselves as partners in a business process value chain. Today, such practices are commonplace through Web-enabled, business-to-business, E-commerce transactions.
Which of these six settings applies to your organization, and what are the implications for IT service delivery? What kind of service experience does your customer need or expect? Perhaps all or just a few of these examples will resonate. In all likelihood, they serve best as representational models for you to mix and match, as you and your team think through your customers' requirements. Because service delivery is such an important measure of IT organization contribution and value, these conceptual frameworks are useful as guides in scripting the more in-the-trenches view of process management that must follow these musings. Even as we explore the more mechanical processes of setting, employing, and reporting on service delivery performance measures, keep in mind the big picture of how your IT team is perceived in its service delivery roles.
Although many of the values expressed in this chapter have surfaced during the author's years as a change manager, the organization and language employed here come in part from Secretariat, Treasury Board of Canada, Blueprint for Renewing Government Services Using Information Technology (Ottawa, Ontario: Treasury Board, 1994), discussion draft. My thanks to Sue Gavrel and her colleagues for their assistance in making this draft document, which is important as a blueprint for current-day thinking about electronic service delivery, available.
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