Service Portfolio Management – Services, where do they come from?

I am sure you noticed, throughout the framework, that everything is about service: service availability, capacity, continuity… From my experience, the customer is also (somewhere) in the middle. But no services – no customer. Or… vice-versa? Service Portfolio Management is a process within the scope of ITIL (to be precise, within the Service Strategy phase of the service lifecycle), which ensures that an IT organization provides the right mix of services to satisfy business needs. In real life, this means providing the right services, to the right customers – at the right point in time.


So, the logical question is: Where does the service come from? There are a lot of sources, and it’s hard to point to a single process. On the other side, they have common a “destination” – the Service Portfolio. The task of the Service Portfolio Management process is to assess and approve new or changed services and manage them throughout their service lifecycles. Nevertheless, let’s see…

Strategic Management for IT Services process – this is (usually) what management of the company does as a continuous process, e.g. look for new markets, search for new customers and opportunities, etc. One of the deliverables of the process is a Strategic Plan. What does the Strategic Plan contain? Many things, but seen from the scope of the Service Portfolio point of view – new business opportunities, i.e. outcomes in the form of services to satisfy those needs. Service Portfolio Management will evaluate such opportunities from a financial and feasibility point of view. Therefore, the Service Plan is one of the valuable inputs to the Service Portfolio Management process.

Business Relationship Management process (BRM) – this is a more “lively” source of new (or changed existing) services. People from BRM are in a (as tight as possible) connection with customers. They don’t measure and discuss performance, but they maintain business relationships with customers. That means that requests or initiatives for new services don’t come in a formalized document (as was the case with the Strategic Plan), but more in the form of “Hey, I noticed that they a lack solution for…” And, there you go – a new request for service is created.

Continual Service Improvement (CSI) – CSI is basically a phase in the service lifecycle, but involved in all other processes, i.e. service lifecycle phases. And it’s very useful. There are several ways that CSI inputs the Service Portfolio:

  • Improvements of existing services, i.e. services which are already in the Service Portfolio. Opportunities for improvement are detected and they have to be evaluated.
  • Opportunities for new services arisen from improvements in strategy or the portfolio itself. There could be changes in, e.g. the company’s business, influenced by market conditions. Services which support the business have to adapt to new situations.
  • CSI identifies opportunities for improvement which are not related to a single service. This could be, e.g. cost, risk or process related. The IT Service Management organization can be improved upon by, e.g. implementing a new tool to manage the services it provides.

Anything else?

There are plenty of processes that manage the services an organization provides throughout their lifecycle. They participate in service management through numerous activities; hence, many suggestions will be made and they have to be evaluated. Here are a few examples:

Capacity Management – suggestions about new technology that influences performance of the service.

Availability Management – risk analysis, and respective countermeasures defined, revealed opportunities to increase availability of data storage.

Problem Management – thorough analysis defined new hardware item, which will eliminate occurrence of a certain type of incidents.

Supplier Management – there is a new product of strategic supplier which could significantly increase service performance and availability (involvement of several processes).

You probably notice that many of the examples contain or could be treated as changes. Yes, that’s correct. But, they affect service outcome, or better to say, business outcome (since services underpin delivery of business results) or have significant strategic or financial consequences. Therefore, Service Portfolio and Change Management have to agree on a financial threshold and other circumstances when an initiative will be treated and routed through Change Management.

Basically, I could continue on to almost every process in ITIL and its contribution to new or improved service definition. And that is correct. The fact is that besides your own processes and people involved, your markets, as well as existing and potential customers, offer many ideas for new or changed services. They are there. Just keep your eyes open.

Download a free sample of our Service Portfolio Management process template to see how the process could be set.

Advisera Branimir Valentic
Branimir Valentic
Branimir is an expert in IT service management (consultancy, training and tools), IT governance (training and consulting), project management and consultancy in IT and telecommunication. He holds the following certificates: ITIL Expert, ISO 20000, ISMS Lead Auditor and PRINCE2.