Small Service Provider Strategy (Part 2)
By Laurent Duenas, December 8th 2013
How does ITSM answer to these questions?
How can ITSM help them to become more industrial?
In Part 1, the issues and expectations of Small Service Providers to grow and extend their market are presented. In this article, the way how ITSM can help them are developed
Industrialization must be visible from customers
The value of ITSM is not of course to provide a better know-how on communication than marketing does. However, ITSM provides the relevant content to do it with credibility. ITSM helps to define the means which make possible the promise. ITSM starts with strategic thoughts about the service offering and the delivery models supporting it. It continues with a consistent design of the components compounding the delivery model as: processes, organization, partnerships, automation and control tools, information required for operations as for governance. This preliminary work provides all the material required to demonstrate SSP ability.
Since it is done, all opportunities to say “we are industrialized” have to be caught. And it has to be done wisely in order to get the best impact. It is clever to distil this information according to the level of interest of the customer, as much as the (pre-) sales process advance and customer’s interest grows. For instance, during a first presentation meeting, it is not necessary to enter into details about industrialization. But to mention it, it is already a plus. Then, during the next steps, it is important to guide the customer so that its curiosity is turned into an expectation that he/she will tend to evaluate from the competitors’ proposal. This will progressively become a “must have” for the customer and will provide a clear competitive advantage for the SSP able to use industrialization as a differentiating skill. Companies’ sales strategies are different the ones from the others. Some companies meet their customers and have the opportunity to detail their know-how during bid defense. Other only use the internet as unique communication channel. These have to describe their industrialization level and demonstrate their ability only through web pages. All have to be « trusted»; each of them following its own sales and communication strategies. In general, a well done distilled approach (which means “progressive” and “relevant”) removes all customers’ doubts about the SSP maturity and its ability to deliver.
Examples of what could be communicated and when :
Industrialization must be genuine within the organization
« To industrialize » an SSP is not just a cosmetic operation. Just painting with industrial colors an organization which is not won’t be enough. The customer is not dupe and makes the difference between what is genuine that what is not. Even worse, the SSP risks to lose its credibility. Since the deal is won, the customer can feel to have been played by a beautiful marketing speech with big gaps between reality and the initial promise. Consequences for the SSP can be harsh. The customer won’t renew its contract. The SSP will probably not achieve profitability with this customer (often reached after a minimum of duration of the contract, hardly ever since the beginning). Then, the customer can harm the SSP reputation. It has no choice. The SSP has to integrate the industrialization in its day-to-day and its culture.
In order to reach this stage, it is necessary to manage a transformation aiming at acquiring a superior level of maturity. This stage get through a formalization and a clearer distribution of the roles and responsibilities, the respect of procedures and the daily utilization of automation and tracking tools guarantying a constant result; things that a SSP, immerged in a startup culture, is not used to. And the change is never easy. Keep it clear; here we talk about making processes being applied and not limited to documentations stored into a cabinet.
An ITSM project contributes actively to this achievement. this is the goal. An ITSM project targets an actual transformation of the organization. Process design and implementation activities are always brought with a “leading change” approach and a benefit assessment along the advancement steps. An ITSM project is looking for a maximum of support from stakeholders while controlling the achievement of the targeted goals.
A real alignment between the value presented and the means implemented has to be shown
Customers a even more aware of the content of ITSM frameworks and their expectations about best-practices implementation are even greater and more precise. Just saying that the SSP organization rely on ITIL V3 framework is no more enough. The customer will try to assure him/herself that the maximum of warranties are in place to secure the maturity and the continuity of the services mandatory for his/her own business. Through precise clues, the customer will try to assess the SSP ability. He/she will search into provided documentation, communication modes used, implemented tools and parametrization, the data model granularity and maturity in configuration database, content talked within the governance instances, etc. with all of that, the customer is able to assess if he/she will be correctly managed and if securities to control the services will be enough.
The SSP has no alternative that to be relevant in his/her choices of industrialization. To be perfectly credible, the SSP must be able to present in a concise way a perfect alignment between the expected performance and his/her ability to deliver. A polished presentation of one (or several) service model(s) is necesary to quickly and visually remove any doubt about its capability. As much as marketers are useful to build polished and meaningful presentations, ITSM praactitioners are indispensible to describe the service models and the warranties provided.
The industrialization levels talked previously are aligned with the positioning of the identified services on quality, pricing and value provided. It is not necessary and mostly not consistent to present an industrialization level out of relevance with the expectations from the customer. Depending on the positioning chose, diverse nuances exist between the willing to be perceived as the provider having the best Quality/price ratio or as the best-in-class services or « handcraft » service provider focused on customization and high quality levels.
It is just a question of choosing the right strategic positioning of the offering according to a market, aligning the right delivery means.
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