Project Management V Service Management Part 2

Last week I gave a talk on Project Management v Service Management at the IT Service Management Forum’s Conference here in Singapore. It wasn’t the best presentation I’ve done in recent years but the topic was a relevant one.

My most recent project, in the manufacturing sector, lasted 18 months and was not my most challenging from a project perspective. However it did highlight several areas that I come across on many projects, more vividly, than most.

The interface between Project Management and Service Management as it relates to the IT world, is broken. Yes, I know, we all know it, we’ve all known it for a long time too. In most cases Project folk like to maintain their unique role as special function and not be seen as art of a “service” organization.

Hey, I was like that too many, many years ago. It’s nice to be different from the crowd, have different responsibilities, and to be on a high profile job, like a major project. Well that’s all fine but it’s not good for the organization investing in the project and it’s a very inefficient way to operate. And here’s why:

Project Management v Service Management

Without a clear definition of the project deliverables that include the service management needs;

  1. customers requirements may not include support requirements resulting in the project delivering products and services that will not meet service and support needs.
  2. integration of change process between the two organizations is prone to problems and risks if not operated as one. This can and often does lead to clashes and delays as two organizations attempt changes relating to common infrastructure and operations.
  3. strategic business decisions that may influence the support model may not be fed into the project solution.
  4. project outcome may satisfy the initial requirements but be a nightmare for support services to manage and therefore prove a poor long term investment and not deliver to the business strategy 100%.
  5. handover of the project into an operational environment will prove more of a challenge than it needs to be.
  6. lack of “synchronization” between project management and support management will cause delays and increased costs against the project.
  7. Many process and procedures that the project organization need to use or interface with are inefficient for project work or are created specifically for the project and don’t interface or leverage the operational procedures that they need to become part of.

If you look at the ITIL model, the approach to the Service Life Cycle almost emulates the Project lifecycle at high level, in Prince 2. This is no accident. In business the strategies are discussed and presented. The design of a solution to deliver that strategy is worked out and then the solution is built. Once the new solution is in place, well, someone has t support it, don’t they?

It’s no surprise that the service management organization is key to the delivery of business strategies and in so doing encompasses a high degree of project management in the delivery f those strategies.

The link between project management and service management organizations is more like an intimate bond. So why is it missing in action in so many organizations?

I don’t have the answer here. I could speculate, based on many years of project management and service management experience. But I won’t, here, and now.

My message is this;

  1. Project scope and requirements must include the service management or support organizations requirements as well as the business needs.
  2. Management process and procedures that support a project should be aligned to operational procedures as much as possible. That means operational procedures need to be flexible and efficient in support project needs as well as operational needs. i.e. Procurement, Resource engagement, Financial reporting, Change Management etc.
  3. Project skills are not easily learned and are sufficiently different from a service management skill set that it pays to get experienced project managers on to major investment projects. However, never lose the opportunity to develop good service staff by attaching them to the project in assisting roles.

Project Management is about people, so is Service Management. Both have similar needs and common threads, both also require training and practice (experience) to become professional delivery agents.