Enterprise service management at different levels: SSM, ESM and xOps

Service management in a modern corporation requires an effective combination of the best service management practices from various industries and automation tools for the selected approaches, suitable for use in the corporate information environment.

Let’s take a look at what levels corporate service is provided at, and how we can outline the areas of approaches to management and automation at each of these levels.


Three levels of organization of corporate service provision

Understanding the specifics of service providers operating at each of these levels is necessary for a competent choice of management approaches and systems for automating such activities.

1. External service provider. Management Area: Shared Service Management (SSM)

An external service provider provides service to multiple organizations or large business units within a group of companies, thereby eliminating duplication of personnel. This type of provider is typical only for very large companies with a complex organizational structure. For example:

  • if the company has a number of geographically distributed offices / branches;
  • if the company is several autonomous business units (group of companies);
  • if the company has a number of affiliates or subsidiaries.

As a rule, problems arising from the maintenance of such massive business structures are solved by the physical and, to some extent, the legal department of the non-core departments of the company (HR, IT, information security, accounting, AXO, etc.) in shared service center (SSC)… These autonomous centers serve as a single entry point for company employees using centralized services (for example, obtaining inquiries, paying bills, organizing jobs).

It is SSCs in this case that are considered an external service provider. SSC is distinguished by a more autonomous management structure. Like their line of business units, they can harness the power of the entire enterprise while still sharing their costs and risks more freely. However, unlike specialized business units, they are the object of the least attention of the company, since they do not carry competitive advantages, and do not participate directly in creating additional value for the company’s product.

The main problem with most SSCs today is that they often perform their primary function only half-heartedly. After all, the main point of creating a SSC is to optimize auxiliary work processes. The main optimization tool is IT. However, due to the complexity of the very process of transferring all functions from the usual offices to the SSC, this fact is quite easy to overlook, limiting ourselves to the already existing information systems. As a result, it turns out that there is a SSC, but the tools that are used inside it and offer its clients to use are outdated, do not correspond to the SSC format, incompatible with each other, etc.

Shared service centers also need a digital transformation. Sometimes even – they need it first of all. The issues of optimizing the work of the SSC lie in the field of shared service management, which helps to find the best ways to automate the work of the SSC and expand their functionality.

2. A service provider at the level of service departments of the company. Management Area: Enterprise Service Management (ESM)

Distinctive feature of the level ESM is that all employees of the organization act as consumers of services, and the supplier is not an external service provider, as at the SSM level, but service units in the structure of the corporation.

The development trend in the field of corporate service management is aimed at aligning the entire work of service departments in accordance with the process-service approach. Best practices for ESM automation involve moving away from disparate tools for automating service activities in favor of a common ESM platforms… So, for example, the IT department in this model replaces its specialized ITSM system for a general ESM solution. This approach allows you to organize service through a single window for all employees for all service requests. The process-service approach, in turn, is designed to ensure transparency of costs for all services and confidence that the company supports only those services that meet strategic goals, and also promotes employee involvement in the overall value stream.

3. Service provider within the unit. Management area: xOps

The most implicit service provider level in an organization is the one inside the department, namely xOps.

The term “xOps” is a copy of the term “DevOps”: the same approach, but not in the field of software development, but in any other area – marketing (MarketigOps), sales (SalesOps), HR (HROps), legal service (LegalOps ) etc.

xOps is a specialist whose main task is to optimize the work of his department using advanced automation tools. Such an employee should not only deeply understand the professional specifics and needs of his department, but also have a broad outlook in the field of specialized tools for automating this activity. At the same time, his professional skills should be enough to administer, configure and customize these products, as well as ensure their integration with each other.

Such an employee is necessary in order to provide the team with the opportunity to solve emerging problems here and now, without waiting for the heavy flywheel of corporate automation “from above” to unwind. Obviously, this approach is associated with certain risks, for example, with the risk of “Shadow IT”… To prevent these related problems, the organization should implement one or more integrated automation platforms that would allow advanced users without programming skills using tools no and low code set up a digital collaboration space for your team. The second requirement for such platforms is an advanced toolkit for integration with specialized tools and third-party software.

Kik and the term “DevOps”, the term “xOps” denotes not only the role of a specialist, but also the cultural approach within which the whole team works. xOps is not only about processes and technologies, but also a culture of interaction in a team, aimed at continuous delivery of value to end users. Looking at the issue from this perspective, the role of an xOps specialist can be distributed among several team members.

Common toolbox

Modern ESM platforms can automate the work of service providers at all three levels of SSM, ESM and xOps. To do this, they must meet the following requirements:

  1. Implement the best practices of the process and service approach.
  2. Maintain the ability to work with external consumer customers and their contact persons.
  3. Maintain a multi-department mode of operation in terms of the service catalog and other processes from the field of service management.
  4. Have a developed toolkit for integrating the system with third-party software.
  5. Provide the ability to refine the system using visual tools and simple scripts available for advanced users.

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