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Upskilling your service management team

Service management has evolved to become a key career choice for individuals from many backgrounds. Combining elements of technical knowledge, project management and analysis, a customer focus and people-skills, career prospects in service management are high, as services become more integrated into the fundamental operations of the organisation. No longer restricted to the IT helpdesk within the IT team, commitment and knowledge gained and applied from, originally, a core technical function are rewarded with personal development and career progression – choosing to upskill in service management is a real career prospect. Understanding that it is of course of more value long term for the organisation to nurture individuals than lose them and find a new hire, HR teams are also supportive of upskilling for personal development within service management teams.

What, why and how to Upskill service management?

The typical roles of the Service Manager public sector team – IT Service Manager, Senior IT Service Manager and Head of IT Service Management are described here with public sector examples, clearly setting out some of required skills and responsibilities. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/it-service-manager

These skills include: Asset and configuration management, Business analysis (IT operations), Continual service improvement, Ownership and initiative, Relationship management with stakeholders, Service focus, Service Management Framework knowledge, Service reporting, Strategic thinking, Technical understanding, and a User focus. As the roles become more senior, the skill-set adds emphasis to influencing others, defining and leading vision and strategy and expertise in the service management frameworks such as ITIL. Reporting and analysis is also a key skill not to be underestimated, as understanding and prioritising information for other departments and stakeholders is instrumental in the success of the IT Services team.

It is interesting to note the inclusion of customer / user focus and influencing in these roles. As IT has become more of a key contributor to the wider organisation, so has it also been required to balance its team’s technical knowledge with the ability to discuss, absorb and deliver service requirements with its largely non-technical peers across the business. Sometimes, process delivery can be seen as heavy handed and compliance can have negative connotations, being a barrier to adoption, so these aspects need to take a measured and open approach.

Practically speaking, which are the main areas to upskill for service management?

Training for progression within service management can come in many forms. The ‘natural’ time tested path of self-and supported development, from ground up service desk analyst or operative via team leader to manager can be supported in a number of ways.

People management skills is one key area to upskill in the services team, coming more naturally to some than others. These kinds of career development courses can be widely found within and outside of the service management context. Leadership and coaching skills are important to roles with more employee responsibility and when interacting with third party contributors to and recipients of the IT services.

Good communication is key to an appreciation of continuous service improvement and to spreading its adoption across the wider organisation.

The SDI offers training and development guidance and courses to upskill within the IT Services context, including ITIL, customer experience, metrics and specific career development like service desk analyst to team leader.

ITIL training and certification can be an important formal set of accreditations which support the understanding and application of service-directed and wider processes of benefit to the organisation. As ITIL has evolved, so keeping up to date on its practices has assisted the service management team with a core understanding of service implementation while maintaining a consistency of approach that is of proven value. A variety of organisations offers widely recognised structured ITIL knowledge-sharing and certification paths, not least Axelos . Leveraging ITIL related best practices and applying these successfully within the organisation is a skill gathered not only from more formal certification but also from an appreciation of the need for cultivating co-operation across business units.

Adding technical know-how can equally be done on the job or with external assistance – remote learning for example – and using these focused skillsets to assist with service escalations of a more technical nature can be a fulfilling career path for many into specialism and/or management. Upskilling to fulfil roles in the Service management team can come from within as well as from external hires; a constructive path is well supported for those minded to look.

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A typical job description for a Service Management Officer could include:
Support for ICT Development Manager and Project Managers in the co-ordination, planning and control of ICT projects, ensuring the agreed project management methods and standards are implemented throughout the projects.
Own the administrative processes around the governance of ICT projects and service delivery including the collation of monitoring information regarding ongoing BAU (Business As Usual) tasks and oversight of the project commissioning process.
Support the development of customer facing project and financial cost modelling for the IT Service to provide visibility to the end customer and traceability of partner contributions to the service.
Undertake a variety of administrative, clerical and managerial tasks in support of the Head of Service and wider partnership governance.

SERVICE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
1. Ensure the agreed project management methods, standards and processes are maintained throughout the project lifecycle.

2. Assist the Project Manager and Team Managers in the production and maintenance of project plans.

3. Monitor the delivery of operational business as usual tasks.

4. Collate and report on the performance of the ICT service as a whole, analysing trends and highlighting areas for improvement.

5. Coordinate resource monitoring across the ICT Team.

6. Develop and maintain the project library, filing, recording and reporting systems.

7. Develop, document and maintain 3C ICT service and project related processes.

8. Support continuous improvement of the service by identifying and incorporating new processes and controls.

9. Model resource capacity through the use of IT Project Management tools.

10. Develop and implement appropriate configuration management procedures.

11. Co-ordinate the timely collation and production of all project/service reports.

12. Set up and maintain systems for recording project costs.

13. Define and document procedures in accordance with agreed methodology.

14. Advise and assist project team members in the application of project procedures, disciplines and recording and reporting standards.

15. Maintain risk and issue logs and change control records.

16. Develop and support effective communication mechanisms between the project teams.

17. Organising and maintaining diaries and managing appointments.

18. Deal with incoming email, calls and post, often corresponding on behalf of the manager.

19. Produce documents, briefing papers, reports and presentations.

20. Undertake any other administrative tasks as specified by the Project Manager.

21. To ensure all aspects of meetings are organised, agendas developed and prompt action taken maintaining timely responses to deadlines at all times.

22. Undertake any other duties of a similar level and responsibility as may be required from time to time.

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