The purpose of Service Operation is to deliver agreed levels of service to users and customers, and to manage the applications, technology and infrastructure that support delivery of the services.
It is only during this stage of the lifecycle that services actually deliver value to the business, and it is the responsibility of Service Operation staff to ensure that this value is delivered.
It is important for Service Operation to balance conflicting goals:
- internal IT view versus external business view
- stability versus responsiveness
- quality of service versus cost of service
- reactive versus proactive activities.
For each of these conflicts, staff must maintain an even balance, as excessive focus on one side of any of these will result in poor service. Many organizations find it helpful to consider the “operational health” of services. This identifies “vital signs” that are critical for execution of Vital Business Functions. If these are within normal ranges, the system or service is healthy. This leads to a reduction in the cost of monitoring, and enables staff to focus on areas that will lead to service success.
Key processes and activities
- Event Management Process
- Incident Management Process: An Incident Management tool is essential for recording and managing incident information.
- Request Fulfillment Process
- Access Management Process
- Common Service Operation Activities
Service Operation includes a number of activities that are not part of the five processes described. These include:
- Monitoring and control: to detect the status of services and CIs and take appropriate corrective action
- Console management/operations bridge: a central coordination point for monitoring and managing services
- Management of the infrastructure: storage, databases, middleware, directory services, facilities/data centre etc.
- Operational aspects of processes from other lifecycle stages: Change, Configuration, Release and Deployment, Availability, Capacity,
- Knowledge, Service Continuity Management etc.
Service Desk Function
The Service Desk provides a single central point of contact for all users of IT. The Service Desk usually logs and manages all incidents, service requests and access requests and provides an interface for all other Service Operation processes and activities.
Specific Service Desk responsibilities include:
- Logging all incidents and requests, categorizing and prioritizing them
- First-line investigation and diagnosis
- Managing the lifecycle of incidents and requests, escalating as appropriate and closing them when the user is satisfied
- Keeping users informed of the status of services, incidents and requests.
There are many ways of structuring and organizing service desks, including:
- Local service desk: physically close to the users
- Centralized service desk: allows fewer staff to deal with a higher volume of calls
- Virtual service desk: staff are in many locations but appear to the users to be a single team
- Follow the sun: Service Desks in different time zones give 24-hour coverage by passing calls to a location where staff are working.
Technical Management Function
Technical Management includes all the people who provide technical expertise and management of the IT infrastructure. Technical Management helps to plan, implement and maintain a stable technical infrastructure and ensure that required resources and expertise are in place to design, build, transition, operate and improve the IT services and supporting technology.
Activities carried out by Technical Management include:
- Identifying knowledge and expertise requirements
- Defining architecture standards
- Involvement in the design and build of new services and operational practices
- Contributing to service design, service transition or continual service improvement projects
- Assistance with service management processes, helping to define standards and tools, and undertaking activities such as the evaluation of change requests
- Assistance with the management of contracts and vendors.
Technical Management is usually organized based on the infrastructure that each team supports.
Application Management Function
Application Management includes all the people who provide technical expertise and management of applications. As such they carry out a very similar role to Technical Management, but with a focus on software applications rather than infrastructure.
It is common in many organizations to refer to applications as services, but applications are just one component needed to provide a service. Each application may support more than one service, and each service may make use of many applications. This is especially true for modern service providers who create shared services based on service- oriented architectures.
Application Management works closely with Development, but is a distinct function with different roles. Activities carried out by Application Management are similar to those described above for Technical Management. Application Management is usually organized by the lines of business that each team supports.
IT Operations Management Function
IT Operations Management is responsible for the management and maintenance of the IT infrastructure required to deliver the agreed level of IT services to the business. It includes two functions:
IT Operations Control is usually staffed by shifts of operators who carry out routine operational tasks. They provide centralized monitoring and control, usually from an operations bridge or network operations centre.
Facilities Management is responsible for management of data centres, computer rooms and recovery sites. Facilities Management also coordinates large-scale projects, such as data centre consolidation or server consolidation.