ITIL Service Design and Project Management – a contrast in execution

The purpose of this series of articles is to continue to show how these two best practices, ITIL and project management provide synergy to improve effectiveness and drive overall maturity for organizations to meet the needs of the business.

In this third article I will focus at a high level on how service design and project management each enable the outcome of a service design to meet the service strategy.

This high level evaluation will be based on the four criteria noted below:

  1. Define service management and how it achieves value creation
  2. Identify the integration points between service design and project management
  3. Understand the service design and project management roles
  4. Sample project management artifacts to support service design

First, as we begin to delve into more of the lifecycle phases of ITIL it is important to preface with some key ITIL service management definitions and how value creation is achieved by a service.

  • Service management is “a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services
  • Services are “a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific cost and risks”
  • The value of a service is “highly dependent on the customer’s perception” and the attributes of those services

I want to pause here for a moment to highlight that attributes differentiate the value creation of services through utility and warranty.

  • Utility, commonly known as “fit for purpose”, is seen to improve performance.  This can be accomplished as a service provider progressively manages the constraints to enhance customer performance by either removing or reducing those constraints. An example, of a cost and risk constraint is when a customer would like to avoid or eliminate non-core assets and lessen over-consumed assets.
  • Warranty, also commonly known as “fit for use” which comes from the positive effect of being available when needed.  Warranty is ensured through four discrete performance variables of availability, continuity, security and capacity of a service. If one of these criteria is not met then value creation is not fulfilled. Warranty is met when the needs of the questions below are achieved:
  • Is the service available enough?
  • Is there enough capacity?
  • Is it secure enough?
  • Is it continual enough?

These two key terms (utility & warranty) are relevant because they feed the main purpose of Service Design. The main purpose of this lifecycle phase is the design of the new or changed service. The service design is delivered through a Service Design Package that meets the utility and warranty requirements through service composition.

In this second section, I will begin to draw the parallels to identify two integration points between service design and project management.

  • One, service composition is similar to a work breakdown structure. Both look at the decomposition of a service or a project into its constituent (and smaller) components.
  • Two, service design relies on the concept of balanced design. This is indicative of managing three design components of a service that are functionality, schedule and resources. This concept is similar to the project management trilogy of scope, time and budget. Both methods require these three items to be in balance otherwise the quality of the service or project is in jeopardy.

The third evaluation point is to understand the service design roles to recognize the boundaries of each responsible party. Then the project manager can drive the value of their role in through managing the needs of the team members to achieve the service design package.  Below are the key roles in service design:

  • Service design manager coordinates the deployment and designs for new or changed services
  • IT Planner produces IT plans that meet the requirements of the business
  • IT Architect designs the required technology component of the solution
  • Service catalog manager produces the service catalogue
  • Service level manager who ensure the service level management are met
  • Various managers for availability, security, continuity and capacity to ensure the solutions meet the service requirements
  • Supplier management oversees the suppliers requirements meet the associated service requirements

The role of the project manager is to provide competent leadership and communication in order to successfully manage the customer, project and teams to enable the service strategy through the service design phase.

Now the fourth point, the project manager can use project artifacts based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge sections that are relevant for service design. Depending on the complexity of the business needs I have identified below a minimum sample of project artifacts to develop the high level service strategy objectives and business case, and these are:

  • Scope Management – deliver a requirements document based on business, operational and management requirements.
  • Budget Management – prepare cost estimates, budgets including investment funding requirements for the services to be designed.
  • Schedule Management- develops the activity definition, sequence and resources required to develop the schedule.
  • Risk Management – to identify risks, analyze the risks and prepare risk responses. A key design output is a business impact analysis.
  • Procurement Management – may be required when considering and external provided service design model. This may include a tendering process to complete the evaluation of the service design model. A service design model may include insourcing versus outsourcing.
  • Integration Management – will be required as noted in ITIL by which designers utilize an integrated design approach to ensure alignment among strategy, activities, stakeholders and the other ITIL lifecycle phases.

In general, key outputs from service design include revisions to strategic plans, technologies, management and process improvements that will be fed into the service transition lifecycle via a formal change management process.

As a reminder, in my first article I distinguished between the two approaches, lifecycle and waterfall, ITIL and project management. The second article focused on the synergies within Service Strategy and project management. To review those blogs the links are noted below:

 Peter Tarhanidis
PA Consulting Group


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  • state abbreviations  On January 3, 2012 at 8:34 am

    good idea im gonna try it

  • UCD  On June 1, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Good post-informative and knowledgeable. Thanks for sharing!

  • deepu9  On April 23, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Adding my 2 cents…

    Every organization, business as a whole or departments, has two kinds of activities : Operations and Change. Operational Activities (not to be confused with just infrastructure) are activities performed to ensure that the current service levels are met. This also includes small changes to ensure readiness and availability. Change Activities are performed to make changes to Operations in order to meet Strategic Goals.
    The most important point in the comparison between Service Management (ITIL is the process framework for Service Management in IT) and Project Management is that Service management is the management of Operations (or Lifecycle, when it comes to technology/IT) and Project Management is the management of the execution of the change plan which makes changes to the products/services. So, in essence, they do two different things – one manages operations and the other manages the ‘execution’ of change. They seem overlapping for two reasons :
    1) The implementation of change heavily involves the operational organizations
    2) The creation of the change plan is primarily done by the operational organization

    The one missing piece in most organizations is the ‘Change Operation’, which creates the Change Plan and executes it. All we mostly have is PMOs that just executes the change plan which need not ensure that the investments are made in alignment with the strategy, because of the lack of proper impact analysis and planning.

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