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Which roles do you need for ITIL Service Operation?

Service Operation processes, according to ITIL, are the most exposed processes of all. Why is that? It’s because Service Operation is where your services are exposed to and used by your users and customers.  You can have, e.g., the best server administrator in the world and he/she can do a magnificent job – but your users and your customers don’t see them. They see the services they use and the people they interact with. And, in most cases, those people are Service Desk people and sometimes Incident Management people.

But, it’s reasonable to ask, there are many other processes in the scope of Service Operation – aren’t they needed? And, if so, how come they are not exposed to the world out there? Maybe it sounds like the situation is complicated, but – it’s not.

Which are the roles?

First of all, let me emphasize that there are no roles that are more or less important. Which roles you will have depends on your IT Service Management (ITSM) organization and processes you support. But, once you decide to implement a certain process, it has to be to the fullest extent. For example, if you decide to implement the Access Management process, it would be very dangerous to implement it partially because “it’s just a process that is not exposed to the users directly, anyways.” Can you imagine if everyone had access to any place inside your corporate data structure whenever they wished? Most probably – no.

So, let’s have an overview of the processes in the scope of Service Operation and which role you will have for them:

Event Management – This is a process where you will create a trigger for the Incident Management and IT Operations functions, but you won’t usually find someone being part of an Event Management team (or whatever the organizational unit name would be). Usually, someone (Event Manager) will have the task of taking care of tools and interfaces to other processes, i.e., functions. (Learn more: ITIL Event Management – Entry point of Service Operation)

Incident Management – That’s your “main process” that deals with incidents. So, the Incident Manager is a must-have role, and you will probably need someone to handle incidents. Those people are usually organized into several support levels. Or, they could be in another department or even at the vendor. (Learn more: Incident Management in ITIL – Solid foundations of operational processes)

Problem Management – It’s almost as important as Incident Management, but not exposed directly to users. The Problem Manager will have the task of organizing (rarely in a single group or department) experts from different areas to cover all needed expertise for the services in place. (Learn more: ITIL and ISO 20000 Problem Management – Organizing for problem resolution)

Request Fulfillment – It’s usually the Service Request Manager who defines and manages the process of handling service requests, but usually people from other processes or functions handle service requests, e.g., procurement or IT Operations people. (Learn more: ITIL Request Fulfillment: A quick win for customer satisfaction)

Access Management – It’s a good idea to have an Access Manager, but the job will (usually) be performed by other functions like IT Operations Management. That means that the Access Manager will set up processes and process interfaces, as well as coordinate fulfillment of access requests. (Learn more: ITIL Access Management – Where do you think you’re going?)

Most probably, you noticed that I mentioned functions in several places. Well, Service Operation is the only phase of the service lifecycle that contains functions. And they are petty important. Here they are:

Service Desk – That’s the place where you will have to excel in your organizational and managerial skills. They are the front line while delivering services. Users will create their perceptions (additionally to the quality of provided services) on the impressions about your Service Desk. So, yes, you need a skilled and experienced Service Desk Manager, a Supervisor (for larger Service Desks) and Service Desk Analysts (they communicate with users, diagnose and resolve incidents). (Learn more: Service Desk: Single point of contact)

Technical Management – That’s one of the, mostly, organizational roles. Namely, it’s hard to expect that you will have all your technical experts in one single organizational unit. Rather, they will be dispersed across the organization. But, the Technical Manager is the one who manages their performance. (Learn more: Technical Management Function – Custodian of your technical expertise)

IT Operations Management – Since this is a group performing a bunch of operational tasks (e.g., console operation, backup, physical installation of equipment, etc.), you will need (besides an IT Operations Manager) a shift leader (they usually provide services beyond 9-5) and many IT Operators. (Learn more: IT Operations Management Function in ITIL)

Application Management – Actually, all that is valid for Technical Management is also valid for Application Management. You need an Application Manager and several Application Analysts or Architects (depending on whether you only support or also design applications in use). (Learn more: ITIL Application Management Function – Custodian of application knowledge)

Which ones are needed?

There is no magic wand to tell you which roles you need and in which way to implement them. More highly exposed processes or functions (e.g., Incident Management and Service Desk) will have deeper organizational structures, but other processes and functions can’t be forgotten. You will need them, but integrated with other processes or with very narrow organizational structures.

And, if you are wondering how successful you were in setting up your Service Operation processes and functions, there is an excellent place to ask: your users and customers. But, be ready – once they are asked, they like to be honest. That can be the reward for your work, but it could hurt, too.

If you wish to check which activities are recommended by ITIL for particular processes and functions, use this free  ITIL Gap analysis tool.

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.