Legacy challenges and moving towards service taxonomy integration under a single common framework and governance
It’s impossible to discuss operational resilience without coming onto the subject of services and service management. Services, and an organisation’s understanding of how their resources are deployed to deliver customer outcomes that matter to their external stakeholders are at the forefront of the regulation proposed by the FCA, PRA and BoE. This does, however, go beyond resilience in that regulators have historically been expecting firms to start to think more about what they do. We’ve seen some commonality in this approach – first with OCIR and now with Operational Resilience. The focus for each of these has been the need for organisations to define business services.
With that being said, I have found that organisations typically face several legacy challenges from these existing regulatory requirements. Below I’ll set out some of the key legacy challenges an organisation may face and how adopting an integrated service management framework can have both direct and indirect benefits.
What are some of the key legacy challenges?
1. Service Prioritisation
As mentioned before, it should be noted the concept of service is not new. Services have been around for ages in IT Service Management, existed for a long time in traditional recovery practices like Business Continuity and new regulations like OCIR have made them well-established.
However, these practices have different approaches to prioritisation – from determining a service as ‘critical’, ‘material’ to ‘important. These words are very similar in meaning, but organisations have applied them separately in keeping with the different requirements. This has led to increased confusion, especially when there are similar services across the organisation with each having a different prioritisation rating. For example, firms may have identified a business service for the purposes for Business Continuity, but that service may not be considered an important business service for operational resilience.
2. Taxonomy Duplication
As a result of these different practices and use cases for services, organisations have also spent money and time during projects over time to identify business services, which typically culminate in the development of service catalogues. Given that all these practices have not been addressed at the same time, organisations have tended to define separate and distinct service catalogues to address the various requirements. The problem with this is that, often, there is a large degree of duplication across the services with the only difference being the prioritisation criteria and level of granularity.
Having multiple service taxonomies and catalogues naturally means there is additional burden on businesses to ensure these are managed and maintained on a regular basis. I often notice that the management of these catalogues are further exacerbated by the fact that they are often housed on different tools in use across the organisation.
3. Service Ownership
From my experience, I have typically found that the existence of multiple taxonomies signifies potential overlaps in ownership, meaning there are likely to be numbers of identified owners across organisations for services within BCP, OCIR etc. In addition, different functional areas across the business will be responsible for respective taxonomies. This can lead to potential conflicts of interest, but also an inability to understand who is truly responsible for the delivery of the service during an incident, period of disruption or generally.
How can integrated service management alleviate this?
There are several direct benefits associated with integrated service management and some leading organisations are already looking to do this. Creating one fit for purpose framework driven by a singular common language will allow organisations to converge all existing taxonomies across the organisation and different practices (e.g. BCP, OCIR, IT DR), removing duplication and redundancies, and reducing the maintenance overheads associated with having to manage multiple taxonomies distinctly.
In doing so, organisations will be in a better position to identify single ownership for services to drive better responsibility and accountability. Owners for respective services under ISM will have the accountability for resilience to make decisions across the service chain, breaking down functional silos, both outside of disruption and during an incident/crisis.
Those that do embrace this will also experience further indirect benefits. They’ll be in a better position to simplify and adapt their service models, maximising value to their customers, optimising costs and remaining profitable. In some cases, taking this approach to service management can also be a vital driver of rapid evolution and gaining a competitive advantage.
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