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Benefits of shared services

Bill Emmett and Atwell Williams | Aug. 3, 2010
How shared services and business service management help you deliver increased value to your customers

Modernise your delivery platform

A critical element to delivering shared services is to deliver them as efficiently as possible. You can accomplish this goal by standardising your delivery platform and then looking for opportunities to modernise it.

Begin by identifying the various delivery environments in place for your target services and evaluating them against your strategic platform architecture. If you dont have a strategic platform architecture, now would be a good time to define one.

Your target architecture should enable you to deliver a consistent quality of service while also adjusting to accommodate differing levels of service across the enterprise. Technologies such as virtualisation and private/public clouds can be leveraged to achieve this objective.

More and more hardware technology vendors are providing integrated network, system, and storage platforms. Cisco, for example, has delivered its unified computing system (UCS), which provides a one cable in, one cable out experience for administrators. Solutions such as this allow system engineers to build the private cloud and virtualised environments that facilitate the efficient delivery of shared services.

Additionally, the correct application architecture can greatly contribute to effective shared services. Applications ideally should be architected to provide multi-tenancy. This allows core or supporting functions of a service to run as a single instance, while multiple application instances can run with the processes, customisations, and data being isolated and secured from each other.

Ensure comprehensive management

In addition to the appropriate technology, effective delivery of shared services requires ongoing comprehensive management of that technology and the associated processes. Specific management components that should be in place include the following:

Service catalog management The service catalog describes to your customers the services that are available and the service-level agreements (SLAs) to which those services conform. Ensure that all shared services are documented and publicised through the service catalog.

Self-service request management One of the major obstacles to customer acceptance of shared services is the perception that service responsiveness will be compromised. An effective service request management process supported by a self-service portal will enable consumers of services to request the service that they want, when they want it, with minimal interaction with the service desk. Additionally, many of these types of service requests can be automated, further enhancing the end-user experience and improving the perception and acceptance of shared services.

Configuration management To facilitate system consolidation, an ongoing understanding of the relationship between technology components and the resulting service is critical. Ongoing configuration management, supported with a well-maintained configuration management database (CMDB), provides the centralised system of record necessary to sustaining the shared services.

Event management To maintain high levels of service availability, IT must proactively manage service events in an effort to prevent them from negatively affecting service availability.  Proactive monitoring enables the IT operations function to identify early indicators of performance or availability issues and initiate corrective action before the service is adversely affected.


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