Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Design of Design

As the marketplace has transitioned from primarily products to mostly services, the need to design services has emerged as an important area of knowledge and specialization. The design of products has been well understood and established within IT now. The design of software utilizing object-oriented principles and methodologies is well known. The design of networks and firewalls is well understood and performed efficiently nowadays which was not the case, say, a decade ago. However, the design of services is still not approached with the level of understanding and maturity that other areas of IT have achieved.

This state of affairs is understandable as the concept of services within IT still elicits a great deal of confusion. To clarify, services differ from products in that while both satisfy customer’s needs, in the case of a service; the customer does not take ownership of the resources and risks associated with the providing of the service. Furthermore, the service generally consists of providing the customer with a complete experience as opposed the solitary experience of purchasing and utilizing product. Therefore, the design of a service involves certain special considerations that are listed below:

  • Services must be designed to satisfy business objectives, based on the quality, compliance, risk and security requirements

  • Services must be designed that can be easily and efficiently developed and enhanced within appropriate timescales and costs

  • Identification and management of risks so that they can be removed or mitigated before services go live

  • The design of secure and resilient IT infrastructures, environments, applications and data/information resources and capability that meet the current and future needs of the business and customers

  • The design of measurement methods and metrics for assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the design processes and their deliverables

  • The production and maintenance of IT plans, processes, policies, architectures, frameworks and documents for the design of quality IT solutions, to meet current and future agreed business needs

  • Contribute to the improvement of the overall quality of IT service within the imposed design constraints, especially by reducing the need for reworking and enhancing services once they have been implemented in the live environment

To accomplish these objectives, the design of services can be broken down in to the following aspects:

  • Service solutions, including all of the functional requirements, resources and capabilities needed and agreed

  • Service Management systems and tools, especially the Service Portfolio for the management and control of services through their lifecycle

  • Technology architectures and management architectures and tools required to provide the services

  • Processes needed to design, transition, operate and improve the services
    Measurement systems, methods and metrics for the services, the architectures and their constituent components and the processes

These areas of design can be performed by the implementation of Design processes like Availability Management, Capacity Management, Security Management etc. Further information regarding these can readily be obtained online by the interested reader.

Design must evolve from product design to service design as the paradigm shifts from products to services. Attempting to design services with a product design structure in place will result in poorly thought out services that do not satisfy the customer and result in defects and incidents in production. Clearly the changes required in today’s IT environment reach deep down in the organization’s structure and are not superficial by any means.

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