This picture simply illustrates the Service Delivery Chain (click to enlarge) from underpinning suppliers through to the end Customer (who pay our Salary).
Yet it's interesting to see that actually, when you take a step back, we're pretty much in the middle of this Delivery Chain. This obviously means we are positioned ABOVE the provision and management of Systems (Architecture, Hardware, Operating Systems etc) but BELOW something we're calling the Business Adapter Layer.
In true ITIL terms, Service Level Management takes care of this function, but in the real world we often find that business units have effectively created their own interfaces too. The VP of Customer Satisfaction, for example, will often create a position to "deal with those Technology folks" or "handle all my system issues".
There are several advantages to a business adapter layer:-
- Simplifies contact and communication channels
- Creates a focus point for ongoing communication
- Enables "good news" messages about the quality of service and service improvements to be driven through the business unit more easily
- Helps the business "get into" service, as and when they need something extra
- Easier for the IT Service Groups to obtain information, feedback and progress action items
- Great source of up-to-the-minute information about the actual business line itself
However, there are also disadvantages to the business adapter layer:-
- Bypassing the Service Desk for more routine requests
- Bypassing the Service Desk for reporting/tracking of Incidents
- Can become too powerful and mis-represent the business line
- Can become too demanding, in terms of expectations around service quality
On balance, when managed carefully, the Business Adapter layer can make a significant difference when interfacing with the Service Level Management Function. For complex businesses with intricate support requirements this adapter layer is essential.
Interestingly, you will often find that business adapter layers (that are business driven) are resourced with ex-technology/service people. People who have experience in both IT Service and the business line. [This is useful - but remember they will know all the right questions to ask and which corners to cut to get what they need faster!]
Looking to the next 5 years or so, with the advent of business process commoditization (the so-called business processes 'out of the box') IT Service Delivery processes will have a much more standardized and common set of interfaces and touchpoints for each business process. (see the link below for a re-fresher on this topic)
So, in a sense, common business processses will layout requirements which are satisfied by common IT Service Delivery processes (based on ITIL and CoBIT). Standard meets standard.
The key thing to note is this - IT Service Delivery Processes are standardizing far faster than Business Processes - which should be good news for future portability of your ITIL skills and experience.
We will build this model further tomorrow.