Four Dimensions of Service Management – Partners and Suppliers

The four dimensions of service management conjures up visions of some fantastic journey to another reality.

What we are really speaking about is the varying perspectives that are critical to effective and efficient facilitation of value for customers and other stakeholders.

If we were to visualize this it might look like the four legs of a table, while it might be able to stand with only three legs it won’t be very stable in the long run.

The four dimensions include:

  • Organization and People
  • Information and Technology
  • Partners and Suppliers
  • Value Stream and Processes

In this post we will talk about Partners and Suppliers

Partners and suppliers

The partners and suppliers dimension basically speaks to your organizations relationships with other organizations who supply or provide services. Unless you are building it all internally you are leveraging this dimension on some level. So, having great working relationships with your partners and suppliers is crucial to ultimately deliver value.

This dimension will differ from one organization to the next based on cultural mindset. Some organizations will want to have everything in-house using all their own resources, while other organizations will want to only focus on core business functions and leverage external services for services. Because of this you will be leveraging contracts and other agreements to execute on these relationships. One of the methods to address partners and suppliers is SIAM (service integration and management).

Today, many organizations leverage multiple service providers for technology services. This allows them to be able to get the quality they are looking for at a price that suits them without having to build out the competency for that service on their own. This enables the organization to focus on its core business. SIAM provides management, assurance, coordination and governance so that your organization can realize value. SIAM does this by utilizing a service integrator layer which is coordinated by SIAM resources. When done correctly this provides the end users with seamless technology services.

Having a way to manage your partners and suppliers is great but there are going to be a pile of factors that you will need to consider in order to manage this dimension appropriately, such as:

Corporate culture

Understanding your culture and how it applies to the appetite to consume services is important. Your organization may be very quick to adapt external services, or it might not. Changing their outlook on this approach may be difficult. While not impossible, it is something that may take some time so build that into your strategy for improvements.

Strategic focus

Some organizations prefer to focus on core competencies and outsource other services to third parties, others want to be as self-sufficient as possible and prefer to have full control over all the important functions. It will be important to see where your organization fits on this scale in order to right size your focus.

Cost concerns

The number one factor that affects decision-making is cost. So when they say ‘cost is king’ this could go a long way to making decisions on which supplier to work with. Some may have inexpensive implementations or deals on licensing to leverage, while others may have ‘down the road’ costs that need to be considered

Resource scarcity

The lack of resources for a particular skill set can cause challenges for organizations, and rather than trying to build out that capability they will partner with a supplier or service who can accommodate with the available resources for short or long term durations.  

Subject matter expertise

No real surprise but organizations prefer to go with the supplier who has expertise in a required field so that they do not have to ‘re-create the wheel’ and leverage that expertise so long as it is needed.

External constraints

There can be a multitude of things external to your organization that can impact your supplier strategy such as:

  • Social or political constraints
  • Legal considerations
  • Government regulations or policies
  • Industry codes of conduct

Demand patterns

For some organizations their demand may ebb and flow with seasons. For example, you may have a flurry of activity in the winter months but during the summer your services may be at a standstill. Being able to be scalable to this fluctuation in demand is important and will need to translate to the service provider to be equally as nimble.

This is just one of the four dimensions of service management. Nothing in ITSM should be done in isolation so having the other dimensions in place is critical to getting the value we are searching for.  Stay tuned for additional posts on this subject.

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