Creating a "Statement Of Service Requirements" - Part One

In this special series of articles we look at creating a Statement of Service Requirements (SSR). Over the coming days we will look at what an SSR actually is, why it is important, it's likely content and how you can effectively use one to both procure and execute against your Outsourcing agreements.

The idea for this article series came when I was clearing out the office recently. I usually have a good tidy up in between Christmas and the New Year - but I felt unusually energetic this weekend and the desire to 'de-clutter' my office got the better of me. Anyway, I found (tucked away behind an old printer) a copy of the CCTA's (remember them? Now they're the OGC! You know the owners of ITIL!) 1993 book, "Producing a statement of service requirements".

Way back in the olden days of 1993 this meagre 84 page "book" cost a
whopping $90 (£45 / 60e) but was so packed full of interesting goodies that I
just had to bring it back to life - and use my own interpretation of today's
meaning within a service operation. Sound ok to you?

Great, let's get on with some of the detail...

What is an SSR?

- A Precise and Complete Statement of the Requirements and Constraints for the IT Service to be provided

- An SSR forms the very foundation for a formal procurement of IT Service

- It provides a sound basis for the creation of evaluation criteria and the terms of the contract between a service recipient (or guardian of the service) and the service provider (let's think about an outsourcing deal here).

- An SSR describes the job that Outsourcers need to do. It is accurate, detailed and complete.

- An SSR enables a potential service provider to effectively bid for new service contracts.

- It enables service providers to fully understand what they are getting themselves into; derive an accurate costing model for running the service over time (and so helps them determine their profit!)

- It provides the service guardian with the opoprtunity to compare and contrast multiple prospective bidders in a competitive tender situation; enabling shortlisting and opening up focussed discussions about service requirements.

- It acts as the "definitive reference" (CCTA term) during discussions and ongoing negotiations between provider and guardian.

Why invest the time in producing an SSR?

Make no mistake - creating an accurate and in-depth SSR is tough work and involves detailed extraction of user/business and internal IT/IS requirements. You will need to overcome many challenges in producing one; such as gaining access to the right people, translating business requirements into more refined service requirements and obtaining approval that the completed document is in fact a detailed and accurate 'big picture' statement of what the business needs!

So, an investment in time and energy is definately required.

Why bother? Well, you will produce a document that enables:-

- solid backbone to base discussions, decisions and negotiations on
- effective change managements of the spefici details within the requirements
- fair comparisons between bidding repsonses can be made (protecting your organization from objections from certain bidders who suspect you may be unfair or biased in some way)
- validate what the current incumbant is actually delivering for you today. Even if you stay with your current provider - you want to know that they are hitting all the right spots for you.

What do I need to know about creating an SSR?

- Your business objectives
- Your internal IT / Technology Objectives
- The strategic positioning of your Service Delivery organization within your business
- Resources and skills needed to create an effective SSR
- Understanding of who else to involve (Legal, Business Sponsors, Commercial teams)