Service Management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services. The capabilities take the form of functions and processes for managing services over a lifecycle, with specializations in strategy, design, transition, operation and continual improvement. The capabilities represent a service organization’s capacity, competency and confidence for action. The act of transforming resources into valuable services is at the core of Service Management. Without these capabilities, a service organization is merely a bundle of resources that by itself has relatively low intrinsic value for customers.
Service Management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services. Organizational capabilities are shaped by the challenges they are expected to overcome. Service Management capabilities are similarly influenced by the following challenges that distinguish services from other systems of value creation such as manufacturing, mining and agriculture:
- Intangible nature of the output and intermediate products of service processes: difficult to measure, control and validate (or prove)
- Demand is tightly coupled with customer’s assets: users and other customer assets such as processes, applications, documents and transactions arrive with demand and stimulate service production
- High level of contact for producers and consumers of services: little or no buffer between the customer, the front-office and back-office
- The perishable nature of service output and service capacity: there is value for the customer from assurance on the continued supply of consistent quality. Providers need to secure a steady supply of demand from customers.
Service Management, however, is more than just a set of capabilities. It is also a professional practice supported by an extensive body of knowledge, experience and skills. A global community of individuals and organizations in the public and private sectors fosters its growth and maturity. Formal schemes exist for the education, training and certification of practising organizations, and individuals influence its quality. Industry best practices, academic research and formal standards contribute to its intellectual capital and draw from it.
The origins of Service Management are in traditional service businesses such as airlines, banks, hotels and phone companies. Its practice has grown with the adoption by IT organizations of a service-oriented approach to managing IT applications, infrastructure and processes. Solutions to business problems and support for business models, strategies and operations are increasingly in the form of services. The popularity of shared services and outsourcing has contributed to the increase in the number of organizations who are service providers, including internal organizational units. This, in turn, has strengthened the practice of Service Management, at the same time imposing greater challenges on it.