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Service Design tools

There are many tools and techniques that can be used to assist with the design of services and their associated components. These tools and techniques enable:

  • Hardware design
  • Software design
  • Environmental design
  • Process design
  • Data design.

The tools and techniques are many and varied, including both proprietary and non-proprietary, and are useful in:

  • Speeding up the design process
  • Ensuring that standards and conventions are followed
  • Offering prototyping, modelling and simulation facilities
  • Enabling ‘What if?’ scenarios to be examined
  • Enabling interfaces and dependencies to checked and correlated
  • Validating designs before they are developed and implemented to ensure that they satisfy and fulfil their intended requirements.

Developing Service Designs can be simplified by the use of tools that provide graphical views of the service and its constituent components, from the business processes, through the service and SLA to the infrastructure, environment, data and applications, processes, OLAs, teams, contracts and suppliers. Some Configuration Management tools provide such facilities, and are sometimes referred to as an element of Business Service Management (BSM) tools. They can contain or be linked to ‘auto-discovery’ tools and mechanisms and allow the relationships between all of these elements to be graphically represented, providing the ability to drill down within each component and obtain detailed information if needed.

If these types of tool also contain financial information, and are then linked to a ‘Metrics Tree’ providing KPIs and metrics of the various aspects of the service, then the service can be monitored and managed through all stages of its lifecycle. Sharing this single, centralized set of service information allows everybody in the service provider organization and the business to access a single, consistent, ‘real-world’ view of the service and its performance, and provides a solid base for the development of good relationships and partnerships between the service provider and its customers.

These types of tools not only facilitate the design processes, but also greatly support and assist all stages in the Service Lifecycle, including:

  • Management of all stages of the Service Lifecycle
  • All aspects of the service and its performance
  • Service achievement, SLA, OLA, contractual and supplier measurement, reporting and management
  • Consolidated metrics and Metrics Trees, with views from management dashboards down to detailed component information, performance and fault analysis and identification
  • Consistent and consolidated views across all processes, systems, technologies and groups
  • Relationships and integration of the business and its processes with IT services, systems and processes
  • A comprehensive set of search and reporting facilities, enabling accurate information and analysis for informed decision-making
  • Management of service costs
  • Management of relationships, interfaces and inter-dependencies
  • Management of the Service Portfolio and Service Catalogue
  • A Configuration Management System (CMS)
  • A Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS).

The following generic activities will be needed to implement such an approach:

  • Establish the generic lifecycle for IT assets (Requirements, Design and Develop, Build, Test, Deploy, Operate and Optimize, Dispose) and define the principal processes, policies, activities and technologies within each stage of the lifecycle for each type of asset
  • Formalize the relationships between different types of IT asset, and the relationship between IT asset acquisition and management and other IT disciplines
  • Define all roles and responsibilities involved in IT asset activities
  • Establish measures for understanding the (Total) Cost of Ownership of an IT service
  • Establish policies for the re-use of IT assets across services, e.g. at the corporate level
  • Define a strategy for the acquisition and management of IT assets, including how it should be aligned with other IT and business strategies.

For the applications asset type, additionally:

  • Define a strategy for the acquisition and management of IT assets, including how it should be aligned with other IT and business strategies
  • Document the role played by applications in the delivery of IT services to the business
  • Ensure the generic IT asset lifecycle model is adapted to an applications lifecycle, tailored to different application types
  • Set standards for the use of different approaches to developing applications, and recognize the role of development methodologies, including those based on ‘re-use’ (see the section on Design and Development for further discussion)
  • Ensure that procedures are in place to consider all requirement types (such as operability, service performance, maintainability, security) in the early stages of application development
  • Set standards for deciding on the optimal delivery of applications to the organization, such as the use of Application Service Providers, customized developments, COTS and package customization.

For the data/information asset type, additionally:

  • Establish how the general principles of IT asset acquisition and management can help to manage the data/information resources of an organization.

Ensure that data designs are undertaken in the light of:

  • The importance of standardized and re-usable metadata
  • The need for data quality
  • The value of data to an organization
  • The need for data administration and database administration skills
  • Understanding the ‘corporate’ (or common/cooperative) subject area and individual service (‘system’) views of data
  • The need to manage data of non-traditional data types such as text, scanned images, video and audio
  • Awareness of the major storage, security and legal issues for data
  • Specify how the generic IT assets lifecycle model can be adapted to the data asset type.

For the IT infrastructure and environmental asset type, additionally:

  • Establish standards for acquisition and management of the IT infrastructure and environmental equipment (including hardware, power, O/S software, dbms software, middleware and networks) and ensure they provide a stable yet adaptable foundation that underpins the provision of IT services to the business
  • Establish how the generic IT assets lifecycle model should be adapted to a specific IT infrastructure lifecycle
  • Establish activities to optimize the usage of IT infrastructure assets through their re-use
  • Specify the need for tools and describe how their overall use and integration assists in the management of an effective IT infrastructure and related services.

For the skills (people, competencies), additionally:

  • Formalize how the competencies of individuals responsible for the IT assets and related services can be regarded as an asset within the organization and are managed as such
  • Specify how the IT asset lifecycle applies to people assets, particularly in terms of measurable competencies, such as skill, knowledge, understanding, qualifications, experience, attitude and behaviour
  • Ensure the documentation of the competencies currently in place and specify how these can be re-used or enhanced
  • Ensure organization standards are compatible with existing standard competency frameworks for the IT sector, such as SFIA+ (Skills For The Information Age) skills and competences are incorporated into roles and responsibilities.

In addition, in order to establish effective interfaces and dependencies:

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