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Good practice in the public domain

Organizations operate in dynamic environments with the need to learn and adapt. There is a need to improve performance while managing trade-offs. Under similar pressure, customers seek advantage from service providers. They pursue sourcing strategies that best serve their own business interests. In many countries, government agencies and non-profits have a similar tendency to outsource for the sake of operational effectiveness. This puts additional pressure on service providers to maintain a competitive advantage with respect to the alternatives that customers may have. The increase in outsourcing has particularly exposed internal service providers to unusual competition.

To cope with the pressure, organizations benchmark themselves against peers and seek to close gaps in capabilities. One way to close such gaps is the adoption of good practices in wide industry use. There are several sources for good practices, including public frameworks, standards, and the proprietary knowledge of organizations and individuals (Figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2 Sourcing of Service Management practice

Public frameworks and standards are attractive when compared with proprietary knowledge:

  • Proprietary knowledge is deeply embedded in organizations and therefore difficult to adopt, replicate or transfer, even with the cooperation of the owners. Such knowledge is often in the form of tacit knowledge that is inextricable and poorly documented.
  • Proprietary knowledge is customized for the local context and specific business needs to the point of being idiosyncratic. Unless the recipients of such knowledge have matching circumstances, the knowledge may not be as effective in use.
  • Owners of proprietary knowledge expect to be rewarded for their long-term investments. They may make such knowledge available only under commercial terms through purchases and licensing agreements.
  • Publicly available frameworks and standards such as ITIL, COBIT, CMMI, eSCM-SP, PRINCE2, ISO 9000, ISO/IEC 20000, and ISO/IEC 27001 are validated across a diverse set of environments and situations rather than the limited experience of a single organization. They are subject to broad review across multiple organizations and disciplines. They are vetted by diverse sets of partners, suppliers and competitors.
  • The knowledge of public frameworks is more likely to be widely distributed among a large community of professionals through publicly available training and certification. It is easier for organizations to acquire such knowledge through the labour market.

Ignoring public frameworks and standards can needlessly place an organization at a disadvantage. Organizations should cultivate their own proprietary knowledge on top of a body of knowledge based on public frameworks and standards. Collaboration and coordination across organizations are easier on the basis of shared practices and standards.

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