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Define the processes and roles needed to convert engagement to action 

To deliver an outcome to a customer, a digital business service requires a baseline set of defined processes for support and governance, and clearly defined roles and responsibilities to support these processes.

  • After defining a clear system of engagement, build a system of action to deliver against the use cases for a digital business case, oriented around a common framework of six processes. 

A system of action for the delivery of digital business services needs a common framework of processes and roles, to ensure consistency and efficiency in delivery. Service organizations can extend existing process frameworks such as ITIL, ISO, CobIT, or TOGAF. Choice of framework matters less than the need to institute a baseline of processes for effective service delivery. Initially, a digital business service requires definition and implementation of the following processes, as laid out in Figure 2.

Process

Implementation Considerations 

Service Catalog Management 

 

The services organization should define and document its process for how digital business services will be catalogued and communicated to customers, typically including provisioning policies, service level options, cost, and ordering steps. 

Key Question to Ask:  What’s our standard template for communicating digital business service offerings to customers? 

Service Level Management 

 

The services organization should have a process in place for ensuring that delivery of a service meets customers’ functional and technical requirements. This means that a digital business service must be mapped to its underlying dependencies (both technical and organizational), so that the services organization can validate if the customer’s required service levels are technically and economically feasible.  

Key Question to Ask:  What’s our process for determining the service levels we can offer to customers? 

Data, Services, and Taxonomy Management (defined in ITIL as “Service Portfolio Management”) 

The services organization should have a process for managing a portfolio of digital business services, including (a) prioritizing investments in data and service development to meet customer use case needs, and (b) modifying and/or retiring existing services and data assets as required. 

Key Question to Ask:  What’s our process for introducing new digital business services, or changing digital business services we already have?  

Incident and Request Management 

The services organization should have case- and task-based processes in place for both managing incidents associated with the performance of the service, as well as fulfillment of service transactions. 

Key Questions to Ask:  What’s our process for fulfilling service transactions requested through the catalog? How do we respond to, manage, and resolve incidents with the service? 

Knowledge Management 

The services organization should have a defined and documented process for how it collects, maintains, and dispenses reliably information about the digital business service throughout its lifecycle. This includes how to identify relevant knowledge for target audiences, and ensure methods are in place to publish, store, and refresh this knowledge. 

Key Question to Ask:  What knowledge is most critical for customers to make the right service transactions? 

Continuous Service Improvement Management 

The services organization should have a process in place for measuring service effectiveness and efficiency, and defining and implementing service improvement plans in response to trends identified in measurement. 

Key Question to Ask:  What metrics will tell us if the service is delivering value to customers, and where to improve value? 

Table 2:  Baseline Processes Required for a Digital Business Service 

Each of the processes outlined in Figure 2 should have a process owner assigned, responsible for process design, execution, and improvement. Depending on the size and complexity of the organization, process owners may be supported by regional‑ or business unit‑based process managers. Process owners can support multiple digital business services, but individual services should have clear and distinct service owners, per Figure 3, below.

Figure 2:  Matrix Relationship between Digital Business Services and Processes Required to Support Services 

The processes listed in Figure 2 and Figure 3 are the minimum set necessary to convert a system of engagement for a digital business services into a system of action. As services mature, the organization should consider adding the following additional processes:  

  • Problem management  
  • Risk and compliance management  
  • Vendor risk and performance management  
  • Demand and project management  
  • Service financial management  

The first three should be installed to guard against risks to service delivery, and may be more urgent for digital business services which are critical to business operations or are associated with significant compliance requirements. The last two are essential to ensuring that the digital business service can scale with customer demand.   

Figure 5, below, provides an overview of process requirements (e.g., “unexpected requests”) that need to be addressed by a system of action for digital business services:  

Figure 3:  Digital Services Capability Map, with Supporting Processes 

In most organizations, business processes associated with these – for example, for project management – may already exist. But you should be cautious about assuming that these business processes should stay ‘as‑is’ when you take launch a digital business service. The business process as it currently exists may not support effective service delivery: there may be multiple (and unnecessary) handoffs, process steps that only in place due to a lack of automation, and approvals that aren’t really mitigating risk. If you do ‘adopt’ an existing process to support a digital business service, you should first conduct some form of analysis – like value stream mapping – to identify where that process should be amended to support digital service delivery.

Fundamentally, the point behind these processes is to begin running the digital business service as a business. Baseline processes ensure that transactions can be conducted and fulfilled with the customer base. More mature processes look to scale the offering and guard against risk, much as any business line would do.

With this in mind, the service owner should act as the owner of the digital business service offering, responsible for both the effectiveness of its performance and efficiency of its cost structure, regardless of how the service is provisioned. The service owner may report to an executive sponsor for the service (e.g., a CHRO, in the case of digital HR services), a chief digital officer, or potentially a head of shared services.

The Role of User Experience in Digital Business Services 

A shared services center or office, whether established internally or outsourced, typically supports a number of digital business services that need to be orchestrated to deliver a complete, end‑to‑end service experience: for example, for onboarding an employee (requiring HR‑, Facilities‑, and IT‑related services). This implies that a shared services center or office should be defined by the customer audience – an organization might have one shared services center for employees, and a second for end‑customers, suppliers, and/or partners. Overall, this requires an evaluation of the full list of business services to be offered, and how they interact with and depend on each other. Figure 6, below, provides an overview of the roles that should be assigned when launching a digital business service.

The Role of User Experience in Digital Business Services

Digital business services elevate the importance of user experience as a measure of effectiveness:  if a digital business service is defined based on a customer’s use case, then user experience (UX) should be a key benchmark for understanding how well the service delivers on that use case. The services organization should have a full-time UX owner who can act as a customer advocate, and promote a consistent, seamless experience across services. The UX owner should collaborate with process owners to answer the following questions:  

  • Do we have the right services in place, reflecting our customers’ most urgent and important use cases? 
  • Do our service catalog definitions reflect the “voice” of our customers, and include all the information needed for them to make an effective transaction? 
  • Can our customers navigate effortlessly across services, or have we put obstacles in their way? 

The UX owner should also be able to define human-centered design (HCD) methods for architecting both the service engagement and fulfillment model, based on the needs of consumers and providers.  

The Role of User Experience in Digital Business Services

Digital business services elevate the importance of user experience as a measure of effectiveness:  if a digital business service is defined based on a customer’s use case, then user experience (UX) should be a key benchmark for understanding how well the service delivers on that use case. The services organization should have a full-time UX owner who can act as a customer advocate, and promote a consistent, seamless experience across services. The UX owner should collaborate with process owners to answer the following questions:  

  • Do we have the right services in place, reflecting our customers’ most urgent and important use cases? 
  • Do our service catalog definitions reflect the “voice” of our customers, and include all the information needed for them to make an effective transaction? 
  • Can our customers navigate effortlessly across services, or have we put obstacles in their way? 

The UX owner should also be able to define human-centered design (HCD) methods for architecting both the service engagement and fulfillment model, based on the needs of consumers and providers.  

Process

Implementation Considerations 

 

Service owner 

 

 

 

Responsible for service performance and cost outcomes; should have authority for how investment is allocated and prioritized for development of the service (e.g., functionality, enhancement, project prioritization) 

 

Process owner 

 

Responsible for the development and performance of a standard process (e.g., service catalog management) across digital business services; should have authority over process definition and exceptions 

 

UX owner 

 

 

 Responsible for representing “voice of customer” across digital business services, and for promoting consistent, seamless experience across services; should have authority over defining UX standards 

 

Service architect / enterprise architect 

Responsible for mapping system of engagement to systems of action and insight for a digital business service; should have authority over definition of reference architectures 

Executive sponsor

Responsible for oversight and assigning resources / decision authorities for a digital business service (e.g., CHRO may act as sponsor for digital HR services) 

Expert Tip

EXPERT TIP

Service owners should identify the most critical KPIs for digital business services.

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