A MATURITY MODEL FOR ANALYZING IT SERVICE DELIVERY

IT-Service Delivery

Services are frequently described as performances by a provider that create and capture economic value for both the provider and consumer (27). IT service delivery system is a set of interacting entities, such as people, processes, and products, that are involved in the delivery of one or more service (9). The delivery of a service consumes resources and produces effects that are valuable to the client. Effects are domain dependent, and eventually translate into value for the client, some of which is transferred into value for the provider (9). The customer domain and the service provider domain are distinguished boundary by Service Access Point (SAP) that is considered conceptual points where a service is delivered to customers (28). 

IT service delivery has been one of the concerns of researchers and several approaches have been proposed around the world, such as IT success  categories (1); concepts of IT service quality (2) (3); customer satisfaction with the service known as SERVQUAL (4) (5); the conceptual model of strategic IT management referred to as Strategic Alignment Model (SAM) (6), which has been implemented (7) and derived into a strategic alignment maturity model (SAMM) (8); and frameworks such as Information Technology Infrastructure Management (ITIL) (see www.itil.org.uk). Many companies and organizations, announce that their “best practice” framework of IT management is based on ITIL, and they add their operating experience in ITSM into their solutions, systems and tools (29) (30) (31) (32) such as Microsoft, HP, IBM and BMC.

IT service delivery has been defined as a service provided to one or more consumers by an IT Service Provider. The IT service is build upon the use of information technology and supports the consumer’s business processes (33).
Quality aware service delivery has been receiving increasing attention in both service management and software architecture (34). Quality of Service (QoS) is referred as the collective effect of service performance which determines the degree of satisfaction of a user of the service (35). QoS can be defined as the degree of conformance of the service delivery to a user by a provider in accordance with (36).  Several studies have been developed around QoS such as quality standards (37) (38), QoS model (39) (40) (41) (11) (12) (10), QoS languages (42) and QoS ontologies (43).
The main factors that contribute to the overall IT service performance delivered to the customer (35) (36):

  • Service Support Performance is the ability to provide a service and assist in its utilization.
  • Service Operability Performance is the ability of a service to be successfully and easily operated by a user.
  • Service Accessibility Performance is the ability of a service to be obtained, within specified tolerances and other given conditions, when requested by the user.
  • Service Retainability Performance is the ability of a service, once obtained, to continue to be provided under given conditions for a requested duration.
  • Service Integrity Performance is the degree to which a service is provided without excessive impairments, once obtained.
  • Service Security Performance is the protection provided against unauthorized monitoring, fraudulent use, malicious impairment, misuse, human mistake, and natural disasters.

IT Service Delivery covers the processes required for the planning and delivery of high quality IT services and looks at the longer term processes associated with improving the quality of IT services delivered (44). IT Service Delivery processes are focused on achieving goals; some managerial functions are required to enact the processes, but fundamentally it is the process and its suitability for purpose that is important.

According to IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) v2, IT Service Delivery (SD) is focus on delivering the service that the business requires in order to provide adequate support to the business customers (13) as part of IT Service Management that is concerned with delivering and supporting IT services that are appropriate to the business requirements of the organization. ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), which was initially designed and developed by the British office of Government Commerce (OGC) provides a comprehensive, consistent and coherent set of best practices for IT Service Management processes, promoting a quality approach to achieving business effectiveness and efficiency in the use of information systems. ITIL does not cast in stone every action required on a day-to-day basis because that is something which differs from organization to organization. ITIL v2.0 processes are intended to be implemented so that they underpin, but do not dictate, the business processes of an organization that are interdependent and underpinned by integrative management (45) (46). ITIL has become the undisputed global de facto framework for IT service management, as corroborated by the rapid increase in membership of the IT Service Management Forum, which is an interest group enhancing and propagating the ITIL principles (14).  Also, the large number of practice-oriented ITIL conferences, publications and training opportunities (15) (16) indicate the growing relevance of ITIL.

In this study ITIL v2 was adopted and suggests Service Catalogue Management, Service Level Management, Financial Management, Capacity Management, IT service Continue Management and security management as processes related to IT service delivery. At the following a brief description of each IT Service Delivery processes:

Service Catalogue Management is to provide a single source of consistent information on all of the agreed services, and ensure that it is widely available to those who are approved to access it; its goal is ensure that a service catalogue is produced and maintained, containing accurate information on al operational services and those being prepared to be run operationally.

Service Level Management, SLM, is the name given to the processes of planning, coordinating, drafting agreeing, monitoring and reporting on Service Level Agreement, SLA, and the ongoing review of the service achievements to ensure that the required and cost justifiable service quality is maintained and gradually improved SLAs provide the basis for managing the relationship between the provider and the Customer.

Financial Management is the sound stewardship of the monetary resources of the organization. It supports the organization in planning and executing its business objectives and requires consistent application throughout the organization to achieve maximum efficiency and minimum conflict.

Capacity Management is responsible for ensuring that the Capacity of the IT Infrastructure matches the evolving demands of the business in the most cost effective and timely manner. It ensures that the future business requirements for IT services are considered, and the performance of all services and components are monitored and measured.

IT Service Continuity Management (ITSCM) supports the overall Business Continuity Management process by ensuring that the required IT technical and services facilities (including computer systems, networks, applications, telecommunications, technical support and Service Desk can be recovered within required, and agreed, business timescales.

Security Management is the process of managing a defined level of security on information and IT services, included is managing the reaction to security incidents (47).

Capability Maturity Model

The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) was developed by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at the request of the US Department of Defense in 1987, (with help from Mitre Corporation). CMM is a model for improving software development processes in an organization. (25) (48)]. Through the years, several versions of CMM were proposed to the community until 2000 that was introduced the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). CMMI is a collection of best practices that helps organizations improve their processes. It describes the characteristics of an effective process what we mean by process is what an organization focuses on, e.g. people, tools and equipments. Process is also something allows aligning the way of doing the business. Afterwards an organization can take advantages of employing CMMI to make an assessment and based on its results, improve its processes. Figure 1 illustrates the history of how CMMI was developed and has grown.


Fig. 1. CMMI development history. (49)

Several Maturity Models have developed from CMM/CMMI such as: Capability Maturity Model Integration for Service (CMMI-SVC) (49)], IT Service Capability Maturity Model (IT Service CMM) (50) and Strategic Assessment Maturity Model (SAMM) (51), as well as Frameworks such as Control Objects for Information and related Technology (COBIT) (52) and Service Management Process Maturity Framework (PMF) (33).
In general, maturity models have the following properties (53) (54):

  • The development of a single entity is simplified and described with a limited number of maturity levels (usually four to six).
  • Levels are characterized by certain requirements, which the entity has to achieve on that level.
  • Levels are ordered sequentially, from an initial level up to an ending level (the latter is the level of perfection).

IT service CMM provides the requirements for constructing maturity level of IT service delivery processes, described as statements of maturity (50):

  • Initial (Level 1). The IT service delivery process is characterized as ad hoc, and occasionally even chaotic. Few processes are defined, and success depends on individual effort and heroics.
  • Repeatable (Level 2). Basic service management processes are established. The necessary discipline is in place to repeat earlier successes on similar services with similar service levels.
  • Defined (Level 3). The IT service processes are documented, standardized and integrated into standard service processes. All services are delivered using approved, tailored versions of the organization’s standard service processes.
  • Managed (Level 4). Detailed measurements of the IT service delivery process and service quality are collected. Both the service processes and the delivered services are quantitatively understood and controlled.
  • Optimized (Level 5). Continuous process improvement is enabled by quantitative feedback from the processes and from piloting innovative ideas and technologies.

IT Service Delivery Maturity Model

The term maturity is understood as a “state of being complete, perfect or ready” (62). To reach a desired state of maturity, an evolutionary path from an initial to a target stage needs to be progressed (63).
The IT Service Delivery Maturity Model (SDMM) is based on IT Service Delivery (see section 2.1) and IT service CMM (see section 2.2). IT Service Delivery provides a set of processes that define a set of activities, guidelines, Performance Indicators/Metrics and components as shown in table 1 (chapter 3) referred as IT Service Delivery Elements. On the other side, IT service CMM provides the requirements for constructing the maturity statements for IT service delivery processes as statements of maturity for IT service delivery (see section 2.2).
The maturity statements of IT service delivery processes were developed following the maturity models properties (see section 2.2) and complemented by the following considerations:

  • Each maturity level satisfies the requirements described by IT service CMM as statement of Maturity of IT service delivery.
  • The maturity levels are organized as an evolutionary path from an initial to an optimal stage and their characteristics can be accumulative.
  • The statements of maturity are proposition for assessing the maturity level of IT Service Delivery processes.
  • The statements of maturity of IT service delivery processes placed in the same maturity level are harmonized, in the ways, which can coexistence.

The following the statements of maturity of IT service delivery processes group by maturity level and presented in table 1,2,3,4, and 5.

Table 1. Statements of maturity at  Level 1 (Initial)

Service Catalogue Management

  • Customer requirements are not clearly collected or defined; that causes unnecessary effort by IT staff to provide the service contracted
  • Isolation of the systems exists, such as customer, troubleshooting and monitoring/supervision systems

Service Level Management

  • There are no expert negotiators  to attend to customers
  • Agreements with customers are not formally written as a contract
  • Customer requests are not prioritized and sometime not even attended

Financial Management

  • There is no budget at the company. Money is allocated based on demand
  • Expenditures are not recorded in IT accounting
  • Customers are overcharged or undercharged

Capacity Management

  • Customer trends are not analyzed
  • IT service performance is not monitored against Service Level agreement (SLA) target
  • Resource utilization is not always analyzed right when an incident occurs

IT Service Continuity Management

  • Personnel is reactive to customer IT service incidents and not informs them about the solution in progress

Availability Management

  • There is a lack of analysis and reporting of the availability, reliability and maintainability of IT components and planned expenditure on IT upgrade

Security Management

  • Physical security measures are not in place, such as the physical separation of the computer room

 

Table 2. Statements of maturity at Level 2 (Repeatable)

Service Catalogue Management

  • Template forms for customer requirements and some services have already been defined in a services portfolio
  • Customizing reports are based on interchanging information amongst systems.

Service Level Management

  • There  is at least one expert negotiator at the company
  • Basic contract structure is used for SLA
  • There is a well-defined personnel commitment to customer requests

Financial Management

  • Budget is planned but not applied
  • There is a trained accountant
  • Discrepancies in charges are quickly identified  and resolved with the customers

Capacity Management

  • Future business requirements are considered for formulating a new service or characterized for the service contracted
  • IT service performance  is analyzed based on customer complaints
  • Changes of component parts of the IT infrastructure are appropriate to ensure service availability.

IT Service Continuity Management

  • Continuity and recovery mechanisms are well known and established through the personnel, who are conscious of the importance of providing good IT service

Availability Management

  • Availability is underpinned by the reliability and maintainability of the IT Infrastructure and effectiveness of the IT support organization.

Security Management

  • Technical security measures are implemented to provide security in a computer system or network
  • Repressive measures are used to counteract any continuation or repetition of the security incident, returning to a previous stable situation

 

Table 3. Statements of maturity at Level 3 (Defined)

Service Catalogue Management

  • Procedures are defined for gathering and following up on customer requirements until the service is contracted by the customers
  • An automatic report generator is implemented that collect information from systems
  • The real situation of the services is recorded in systems

Service Level Management

  • Guidelines  are established for negotiation with customers
  • SLA template is applied for agreement with customers
  • Help desk (troubleshooting) system is implemented for customer requests

Financial Management

  • Budget is implemented but not always followed
  • A cost analysis is implemented for spending
  • Charging and pricing policies are defined for guiding billing systems

Capacity Management

  • Methods for forecasting  future customer requirements have been implemented but their accuracy is not always analyzed
  • A tool is used to identify and understand IT service performance incidents
  • A tool is used to monitor and measure components within the IT infrastructure

IT Service Continuity Management

  • Business Impact analysis is used to quantify the loss of the IT services and assess the impact of all changes

Availability Management

  • Availability techniques  are deployed to provide additional infrastructure resilience to prevent or minimize the impact of component failure to IT service

Security Management

  • Security organization measures are put in place such as clear responsibilities and tasks, guidelines, reporting procedures and measures that are properly matched to the needs of the business, from policies to work instructions.

 

Table 4. Statements of maturity at Level 4 (Managed)

Service Catalogue Management

  • Customer requirements are  monitored and followed up on
  • Systems related to customers are interconnected, sharing database 

Service Level Management

  • The negotiation with  customers  is followed up on and supervised
  • Process/procedure for filling up SLA  is instituted in the organization
  • Reactive approach to customer complaints and response to customer requests is instituted in the  organization

Financial Management

  • All activity has allocated money in the budget
  • The expenditures are supervised and monitored
  • The process/procedure for charging is implemented and verified on customer bill for IT services

Capacity Management

  • Forecasted business requirements are accurate and satisfy the customer SLRs
  • A tool is used to monitor and supervise IT service performance  constraints
  • Current resource utilization trends are produced and future resource requirement estimations are instituted in the organization

IT Service Continuity  Management

  • IT recovery plan  is implemented and supports critical business processes

Availability Management

  • Availability and recovery design criteria for each new or enabled IT service  are used at the organization

Security Management

  • Risk analyses  are used for countermeasures of security incidents

 

Table 5 . Statements of maturity at Level 5 (Optimized)

Service Catalogue Management

  • Review and improvement procedures/processes are established in order to be efficient and effective in defining customer services and  signing contracts

Service Level Management

  • Negation processes/procedures are already established for training and supervision of negotiation process
  • Training and supervision are used to correctly fill up SLAs
  • Process/procedure  is used to measure customer perceptions as proactive attitude 

Financial Management

  • Budget is annually reviewed and adjusted according to the business plan priorities and requirements
  • Suitable accounting method is implemented, reviewed and supervised. Everyone involved with IT accounting has appropriate training.
  • Recovery of the IT service expenditures cost is collected on time

Capacity Management

  • Future business requirements for IT services are considered and understood, and sufficient capacity to support the services is planned and implemented in an appropriate timescale in a capacity plan
  • IT service performance is accurately analyzed, improved and forecasted
  • Designed, procured or amended configuration of IT infrastructure component is based on capacity and utilization addressed by required response times, expected throughput and usage pattern , and is articulated in the capacity plan

IT Service Continuity Management

  • ITSCM Plan is established and derived from Business Plan Continuity Plan

Availability Management

  • The capability of the IT infrastructure, services and supporting organization is optimized to deliver a cost effective approach
  • Availability Plan used for the proactive improvement of the IT infrastructure and sustained availability level that enables the business to satisfy its business objectives

Security Management

  • Security plan is based on SLA for all IT services and risk analysis of impact on the business

 

For collecting and validating information, a method for analyzing IT service delivery was adopted that is available at (http://www.itservice.uni.edu.ni/JFlores/method.html). The adopted method is founded in interpretative approach; it allows us to construct the world by its participants based on subjective meanings of their experiences within certain objects  (48). As qualitative research, its design is focused on understanding the social and cultural contexts within that people live (38). The method includes a set of questionnaires and a procedure for collecting and validating information. Each questionnaire contains a brief description of the IT service delivery process, characteristics of the persons who could have the information related to the questionnaire, the time required and evidence for supporting the participants’ claims. These questionnaires are available at (http://www.itservice.uni.edu.ni/JFlores/introduction.htm). The procedure for collecting and validating information is based on case study techniques. As part of the method adopted, a non-disclosure agreement should be signed in order to specify that the information collected is used for academic purposes and multiple sources of evidence should be defined such as semi-structured interview, focus group and documents. The purpose of the semi-structured interview, focus group and documents is to provide information about the current state of the IT service delivery. The information collected is validated through a chain of evidence that makes explicit links among the questions asked, the data collected and the conclusions drawn (49). Semi-structured interviews and focus groups should be recorded in order to identify factual information that includes what respondents know about the subject under investigation, and what respondents did in the past, are doing now and intend to do in the future (50) for building a traceable case study database. The duration of each semi-structured interview/focus group is approximately 1 hour. The interviewer should act as a neutral medium through which questions and answers are transmitted, thus endeavoring to eliminate bias. Furthermore, the interviewers should avoid giving overt signals such as smiling and nodding approvingly at a respondent’s answer to a question (51).

When the current status of each IT service delivery process is established, it can be assessed based on the IT service maturity levels described above and assigned the corresponding maturity level score. If the ITIL process is closer to the next higher level, a “+” is added after the score level. If it is closer to the previous lower level, a “-” is added before the score level. An example of scoring service catalogue management is presented in figure 2.


Fig.2. Scoring Service Catalogue Management
(a) Service Catalogue Mgt.  score:  -1;
(b) Service Catalogue Mgt. score: 1;
(c) Service Catalogue Mgt. score: 1+;
(d) Service Catalogue Mgt. score: -2

The IT Service Delivery Maturity Model (SDMM) is depicted in figure 3 and consists of five maturity levels (also called stages). Each level has sets of maturity statements that characterized the maturity assessment of the IT service delivery processes. The maturity assessment can be developed as a cross sectional study or in longitudinal study, depending of organization requirements.


Fig.3. IT Service Delivery Maturity Model

 

Research Group at the National University of Engineering in Nicaragua
Authors Johnny Flores

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