Hitesh Patel demystifies the role and qualities of the Service Delivery Manager and where ITIL® Practitioner’s best practice guidance can support their work:
Service Delivery Manager (SDM) is a role many people struggle with within IT Service Management (ITSM) and, for every SDM, there’s at least two who aren’t doing it successfully. So why is that the case?
A lack of understanding about the purpose of the role is one. I’m often asked, for instance, how is this different from a Customer/Business Relationship Manager? And secondly, there’s no one-size-fits all description or role profile. The role can either be strategic or operational – it depends on the need of the business and the long term objectives. That said, there are some commonalities.
The purpose of the service delivery manager
In essence, the SDM is there to deliver a service and make sure the customer is first. Beyond this, depending on the strategic or operational approach, it’s someone who understands what the client wants and needs and knows the client inside out, or keeps things moving for the client’s benefit.
The SDM focuses on customer satisfaction, measures it, ensures standards are met and makes sure there’s regular interaction with the client.They also help build rapport, credibility and, when needed, help resolve complaints about service performance.
What makes a good service delivery manager
A solid SDM needs good interpersonal skills and be able to read and analyze a situation against the bigger picture. They need to be pragmatic and have excellent relationship management skills.
In more operational variations of the role, some technological knowledge is important too and having a basic technological understanding will stand them in good stead.
But when it comes to an excellent SDM, with the utmost respect, they should be someone you hardly see. This person should make the client relationship so smooth that you don’t have to seek them out. They should be actively involved with the customer and make the client relationship plain sailing.
When thinking about the purpose of the SDM, it’s also valuable to think about what happens when the SDM doesn’t function effectively. It’s important they don’t become a bottleneck, make things more complicated and, equally, shouldn’t overpromise and under-deliver.
Engagement is another potential pitfall but where a solid SDM can thrive. As much as possible, the SDM should remain unbiased; they shouldn’t be disengaged from the service provider or too influenced by the client. By doing this the SDM can have real foresight, spotting issues before they get to the customer.
Creating superb service delivery managers
As engagement is so crucial in this role, it’s critical to get SDMs involved as early as possible in a project that potentially affects the customers they manage.
More broadly, SDMs can also get a lot of guidance from the best practice material on the market, such as ITIL Practitioner as it covers a lot of best practice guidance on service delivery management through its Guiding Principles and advice on Organizational Change Management sections would be of particular interest to aspiring SDMs. In Service Strategy, the Business Relationship Management section is also a great reference point.
Yet what’s the most critical thing for SDMs to remember is to adopt and adapt; no one ‘SDM shoe’ fits all. With a set of key skills, a good SDM can lend their hand to any variation of the role.
Read previous AXELOS Blog Posts by Hitesh Patel
Them vs us: the importance of Collaboration
ITIL® Practitioner: who is it for and what are the benefits?