Service Owners are accountable for end to end IT services meeting the needs of the business. There are numerous articles available on the roles and responsibilities of a service owner. To summarize, the ITIL® materials define the primary responsibilities as
· Serving as the primary customer contact for service related issues and needs
· Having ultimate accountability for the service
· Ensuring the service is meeting customer needs and raising change proposals and RFCs relating to service improvements
· Working closely with process owners to ensure the processes effectively manage ongoing operations of the service and that improvements are recognized with investments prioritized based on business strategy
Small to mid-size companies often assign the role of Service Owner to operational managers. To be successful in this role, it is imperative that operational managers take the time to truly understand the customer’s perspective about the service. The operational manager needs to take a pragmatic view of the service and at times, they may need to champion service improvements that may not be popular in the IT organization or even, the operational manager’s team. Acting in this manner is one of the most challenging aspects for anyone functioning in the role of a service owner.
Whether a Service Owner position exists or the role is assigned to existing resources, there are critical skills and abilities required for success.
Top Skills and Abilities for Service Owners
(The skills and abilities noted are not in priority order)
· Ability to translate technical jargon into business language and to effectively convey business goals and objectives to technical staff – The Service Owner is often working directly with the customer to understand their needs and how the existing service may or may not be meeting those needs. They need the ability to help the business understand technology related challenges and to help IT staff understand how the IT service supports the business.
· Strong active listening skills are required to understand the complete message being conveyed -The Service Owner needs to pay close attention when working with the customer and IT. They need the ability hear the message being conveyed but they should also be able to interpret the body language. They need to focus on the person they are engaging to fully understand their perspective.
· Ability to establish and maintain strong relationships with both the customer and IT staff by developing trust, integrity, and credibility with each area.
· Analytical skills are necessary to understand business drivers and objectives, processes, needs, and existing performance in order to work with all parties to design effective solutions.
· Ability to resolve conflict and negotiate resolutions that meet everyone’s needs – A Service Owner often helps to negotiate solutions to problems such as conflicting business requirements, competing priorities, resource constraints, etc.
Notice that technical skills were not required. The Service Owner functions more as an interpreter for the business and IT. They should not be lost in technical or business conversations however; they are not the subject matter expert. They are more focused on providing a cost effective service which meets the business need. They rely on technical and business experts for in depth information and guidance.
The Service Owner role has significant impact on customer satisfaction in the organization. This role has ultimate accountability for the services meeting customer needs. Anyone functioning in this role should understand how they contribute to the success of the IT organization and the business. The return on investment associated with ensuring the Service Owner has the appropriate skills and abilities is significant as it helps to strengthen the relationship with the business by ensuring the service and the service performance is aligned with the needs of the business.
ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of AXELOS Limited
At AdOPT, we are transformation consultants focused on IT strategy, innovation, process, and culture change to improve efficiency, increase effectiveness, and optimize costs. We wrote the book on organizational change for IT. For more information, contact us at 520-591-2427 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.