Although its importance is stressed heavily in version 3 of ITIL, IT service portfolio management often takes a back seat to other IT service management processes, such as incident management, problem management, and change management. But, as companies seek to achieve greater visibility into IT services, and deliver superior support to end users, service portfolio management is becoming a mission-critical initiative.
What is Service Portfolio Management?
Service portfolio management seeks to position the IT organization as a strategic partner to the business, by facilitating the creation of a wide offering of comprehensive, value-added services. It accomplishes this through the end-to-end management of services, from the time they are requested, until they are discontinued. It includes strict policies and guidelines for how services will be designed, implemented, ordered, supported, and priced (where appropriate).
There are several core components to IT service portfolio management, which enable the smooth, seamless planning, delivery, and ongoing assessment and refinement of services throughout their entire lifecycle:
- The service pipeline, services that are currently being planned or created
- The service catalog, existing services available to end users
- Retired services, formerly-available services which have been taken out of deployment
Benefits of Service Portfolio Management
Companies who implement IT service portfolio management achieve significant advantages. Among those, claims industry analyst firm Forrester, is the ability for CIOs to “transform IT assets and their associated costs into business services that they can price and link to business value. IT’s position within the firm morphs from a cost center to a value-added service provider with transparency into its operations and spending.”
Other key benefits include:
- Tighter alignment between IT services and strategic business goals
- Greater insight into the impact that IT services have on the performance of the business
- Improved productivity of IT support staff, through a better identification of – and increased focus on – those services that offer the most value
- Increased cost-efficiency through the consolidation of duplicate services, enhancement of inefficient services, and retirement of low-value, unnecessary, or unused services
- An enhanced ability to meet the service demands of end users
- More intelligence decision-making regarding service creation, improvement, delivery, and retirement
While best practices in the development and implementation of IT service portfolio management strategies are still being defined, Gartner’s Debra Curtis claims that many IT organizations “incorrectly focus on the IT service catalog first. We recommend documenting the business-value-based IT service portfolio first then creating the catalog of standard, repeatable services that can be ordered by business customers.”