Understanding and meeting customer expectations is a crucial part of Service Management and at the end of the day this should be of concern for every Service Manager. However, expectations can sometimes conflict each other. For instance, you cannot improve service quality and save costs at the same time. These are two goals, that cannot be achieved at the same time. If such trade-offs are not made transparent, your customer will end with dissatisfaction. In this blog I would like to show some of these typical trade-offs and how to deal with them.
Conflicting expectations is not something new in IT. In Project Management there exists the famous iron triangle between cost, quality and time – one the one hand this triangle defines the expectations to a project (allowed budget, expected outcome and timelines), on the other hand it also defines contraints, which conflict each other. if I get for example less money for my project, this means that I have either to cut the project scope or get more time. For project success it is essential to manage this triangle and make it transparent to the stakeholders.
I asked myself if the PM triangle also could be used for Service Management. My answer would be yes, but as Service Management is different than Project Management, there are some specifics to consider:
Cost versus Quality
In ITSM, the conflict between Cost and Quality is mainly something that Service Level Management is dealing with. If a customer wants 99.99% Service availiability, is he also willing to pay the price? Finding the right balance between ‚What you get‘ and ‚What you pay‘ part of the negotiaten process in Service Level Management. In reality there is unfortunately often only the focus on ‚what you get‘. Service Level Requirements are put an SLA without thinking about the cost impact.
Stability vs Flexibility
This is not an obvious one, but in my opinion important in Service Management, because it is a determining factor on how you implement Change Management in your company. Stability refers to the expectation that the daily production is not put into risk by introducing new changes. Having a very strict Change Management in place will help you to achieve this and in certain industries like the financial industry this is crucial for the survival of the business (e.g. a production downtime of 4 hours can cause irreparable loss of business). On the other hand the same strict Change Management can completely stop a business, in which time-to-market and flexibility is the main driver. It’s almost impossible to achieve flexibility and stability at the same time, instead ask your customer what is important for his business and put the focus accordingly.
I hope you enjoyed my today’s blog. I would be interested in discussing this further with you and maybe you know from your experience some more conflicting expectations in ITSM and how you deal with them. Feel free to use the comment function at the end of this blog.