There are a number of ways to approach Business Service Management (or Business Services Managment). Two of the most common are the top-down and the bottom-up approaches. The top-down approach starts at the business process layer and works down the stack while the bottom-up approach starts at the technical CI layer and works up the stack. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. In this blog I will focus on the top-down approach, at a high level. As a note, I am not endorsing the top-down approach, but rather reviewing some of the main characteristics, advantages and disadvantages.
Approaching Business Service Management (BSM) from the top down can be challenging. The approach requires strong executive sponsorship and commitment. In addition, a close relationship with the business must be established prior to the execution of the program. There is also the need for certain technical components and processes to be in place and in a state of maturity that can support the BSM initiative. Some of (but not limited to) the technologies that need to be in place are a robust monitoring solution that encompasses the majority of the technical stack (applications, databases, server, network and storage), a configuration management database, a manager of the managers (MOM), etc. From a process perspective, event management, incident management, problem management, configuration management and change management should be in place. While varying levels of process maturity can be acceptable, it is advantageous to have a firm understanding of the processes and the weaknesses within the organization as it relates to each of them. A comprehensive, well-socialized and agreed-upon strategic road map that is tied to the CIO and business objectives is required.
The first step in the execution of Business Service Management using the top-down approach requires that a specific business service be identified. An example of a business service is dependent on the industry but could be something like “order to cash,” “procure to pay” or in financial services, “trading.” In most cases execution against an entire business service is not recommended, but rather a set of sub processes or sub services should be targeted. There are a number of variables that can drive the scope of the project. Variables that need to be accounted for are budget, in-place supporting technologies, ability to institute organizational change and business need. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and critical success factors (CSFs) need to be defined very early in the process and should always involve business counterparts.
Check back in next week when I will discuss the advantages and disadvanteges a top-down approach.
About the Author
Brian Sanders, Client Principal – Evergreen Systems
Brian has almost 15 years of IT experience. Brian started out his career as a Unix /VMS engineer and Oracle DBA. After being an engineer for several years, Brian moved into the infrastructure design space and process engineering. Currently Brian’s focus is IT strategy and IT business value.