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ITIL & ISO 20000 Blog

Branimir Valentic

Technical Management Function – custodian of your technical expertise

Running (complex) IT services requires knowledge and deep understanding of the technology used. Can an operational team handle it alone? Most probably – no. There is a lot of knowledge behind “fulfilling service requirements”.

Technical Management – what is it?

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Technical Management is a standalone function that provides technical expertise throughout the IT service lifecycle.

Let’s spend a few words on a previous definition.

Function – As defined in ITIL, a function is “a team or group of people and the tools or other resources they use to carry out one or more processes or activities.” This means that we are talking here, as opposed to all those processes within the scope of ITIL, about human resources – people.

Technical expertise – take, for example, operational activities needed to support a service. They are technical in nature and require specific knowledge, e.g. database knowledge, network administration, etc. Therefore, knowing processes and managing them is not enough. Expert knowledge is needed to keep service levels as agreed.

So, there is an expert group of people whom you are using in daily (operational) business. If such a function is well organized, you can control utilization of resources. That means that, e.g., you will not employ an expensive technical expert if you need him for just a few hours per week. It would be better to hire someone for that task only.

Organization

In an ideal case – there is a standalone organizational unit which contains all technical experts that your services need. Big organizations can afford that and are coming closer to this situation. Technical skills are criteria by which to organize employees. Such organization will be divided into specialist teams, e.g. Database, Desktop, Network, Server, Storage… etc.

Technical Management functionFigure 1: Technical Management function as a standalone organizational unit

In smaller organizations – there is rarely such a standalone organizational unit. It is hard to have all necessary technical knowledge inside one group and utilize its resources 100% for the whole time. Technical Management functionality is applied – technical experts are sitting in various organizational units and there is a Technical Manager who has the responsibility to organize availability and capacity of needed expertise, i.e., technical experts. To achieve that, the Technical Manager agrees with line managers’ availability of required experts, provides policies, sets up a process and interfaces between the technical manager function and other processes, etc.

How can we detect “candidates” for the Technical Management function? Well, I am sure you can recall a situation when you couldn’t solve some technical issue, then you found some guru for the topic and – you don’t know what exactly he did, but it solved the issue. Yes, such a person is the perfect candidate for the Technical Management function.

Technical Management function 2Figure 2: Technical Management function uses resources from various organizational units

Roles of Technical Management

I think that we would agree – technology is getting more complex. And this trend will (most probably) not change. Therefore, Technical Management has to ensure that the organization has enough resources (and the right resources) to manage technology, and those needed to meet business objectives. To ensure that, Technical Management has the following roles:

  • Custodian of technical knowledge and expertise used throughout the IT service lifecycle – In this role, technical management identifies, develops and refines the knowledge needed to design, test/verify, maintain and improve IT services.
  • Resource provider required to support IT service lifecycle – In this role, technical management ensures that resources are educated and deployed to design, test/verify, maintain and improve the technology needed to deliver and support IT services.

Opportunity for deployment

Technical Management contains expert technical knowledge and experience. There is no use for it if it isn’t deployed efficiently. To give you an idea of where you can use Technical Management, here are examples of the main activities area of the Technical Management function:

Knowledge and trainingIdentification of knowledge needed to manage and operate IT  services
Initiating training programs with the goal to develop or improve existing skills
Design and delivery of trainings for users, service desk and other groups of interest
Skills and resourcesRecruiting or procuring resources with needed skills
Managing suppliers
Activities throughout IT service lifecycleStrategy – identification of knowledge and expertise needed to manage and operate IT infrastructure and to deliver IT services, defining the standards to be used in the design of  new architectures and participation in the definition of  technology architectures
Design – participating in design and development of new services
Transition – active participation in change assessment, testing and validation of new or changed services
Operation – managing event tools, participating in incident and problem resolution
Continual Service Improvement – highlighting and evaluating opportunities for improvement

If you look around inside your organization, you will find many experts for many different areas, sitting across the company. And this is OK, but their potential and knowledge must be deployed. Otherwise, it will be too late when your customers let you know that more expertise is needed.

Download a free sample of our Technical Management Function template to see how the function could be set.

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