The role of a Service Owner in the era of Cloud Computing
The role of a service owner is usually a very well understood, defined and implemented capability of many organizations. The common, high-level responsibilities of a service owner role, spanning the entire service lifecycle from Service Strategy over Service Design, Transition to Service Operation and Continual Improvement are:
- single point of accountability in front of the customer for all aspects of a dedicated service
- responsible to the customer for the initiation, transition and ongoing maintenance and support of a particular service
- accountable to IT Management for the performance of that dedicated service (including financial performance).
Like spanning the ownership across the entire service lifecycle, service owner responsibility is also across multiple “service silos functions”, usually being account management, architecture, engineering, development, testing, deployment and service delivery functions. Playing this silo-breaking role, the service owner is compensating for process shortcomings, dysfunctional organizational setups and performance issue of individual teams.
What’s different with Cloud Computing?
In principle: Nothing, same responsibilities apply! But let’s have a look to the cloud specifics and some focus areas for the roles and responsibilities of a cloud service owner:
- Starting with Service Strategy: The available cloud service portfolio on the market consists of multiple different deployment models and offerings. Along with a strategic view to the sourcing options, the service owner has to come up with the right criteria to pick the right service offerings suiting the business and customer needs. Aligning internal business requirements with the emerging, external cloud market is the service owner’s strategic responsibility.
- Service Design: In the cloud world, service design is pretty much the implementation of the sourcing strategy: Translating business requirements into service specifications ready for a service provider selection exercise. So the focus in service design is shifting from overseeing the usual internal architecture, engineering and development to external service provider engagement management. Not to forget the management of the high-risk areas in data security and governance compliance coming with external service providers taking over the service responsibilities.
- Further on Service Design: It is all about self service capabilities: Cloud customers are playing a completely different role in the service game from now on. Most of the functional customer/business requirements are being designed and delivered “ready-made” for customer interaction without manual IT involvement. The focus for the cloud service owner on the customer side is the supports of account management in clarifying the new and enhanced capabilities and responsibilities of customers.
- Service Transition: In short: The Service Owner is chairing the service transition project steering committee and the Change Advisory Board for his/her service. Since Service Transition, as well as Service Design, is evolving toward a semi-automated Service Brokerage function, the cloud service owner oversees the definition, implementation and performance of this new cloud function.
- Service Operation: The focus in service operation is to manage the performance of the internal cloud service manager managing the performance of the various external cloud service providers. In practice, the service owner is taking on service performance escalations in case, the cloud service manager needs to be supported in talking to the cloud providers.
- Continual Improvement: The overall cloud service maturity and the capabilities of the providers offering cloud services are on square one. The improvement of existing cloud services and the improvement of the entire cloud service lifecycle maturity is one of the most prominent focus areas for a cloud service owner.
In short: cloud services will require a shift to new focus areas for the roles and responsibilities of a service owner. If an organization is not yet familiar with this important service governance role, the further emerging of cloud services will certainly and hopefully trigger a re-thinking.