Stefan Cronholm

2017-04-04 08:30

IT services are becoming more efficient, cheap and innovative

A new digital tool that increases efficiency and improves relationships between customers and service providers in IT – that is the result of three years of research in IT service management.

In December 2016 ended the three year research project “Improved Process Efficiency and Quality in IT Service Management: from ’best practice’ to ’good enough’.”

The project focused on strengthening the relationship between service providers and customers in terms of delivering IT services, for example services related to improvement in terms of operation and maintenance as well as on a strategic level, such as defining strategies or designing new services.

IT service management (ITSM)
is a strategy where IT services are delivered to customers
- The project was funded with approximately 3,000,000 SEK from the Knowledge Foundation, and with approximately 3,000,000 SEK from companies in the regions of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Borås.
- The project was carried out in close cooperation with companies and municipalities. The companies involved are Applitron, Bankgirocentralen, Ericsson, Evry, Illumineight, Pulsen, Sogeti, Tregamma, and Volvo Cars. The two involved municipalities are Borås Stad and Varberg Municipality.
- The contributing researchers from the University of Borås are Stefan Cronholm (project leader), Carina Hallqvist, Hannes Göbel, Patrik Hedberg, and Anders Hjalmarsson.

Stefan Cronholm, professor of information science at the University of Borås and leader of the project, says:

– When we started, the project had two starting points. One was that IT service management, which is a strategy for delivering IT services to customers, is costly and that efficiency opportunities need to be investigated.

– The other was that existing frameworks and models, so-called “best practices”, for developing and maintaining service delivery are mainly directed towards larger companies. The models were extensive, complex and have too-high learning thresholds, with thousands of pages of texts. Small and medium sized enterprises simply do not have the resources to deal with such big frameworks.

Digital tool, practical results

Their main contribution to practice is a digital tool containing a cheaper framework – a model – for assessing service delivery and innovation of service improvements adjusted to small and medium sized enterprises. The tool was developed through approximately thirty tests in collaboration with the companies involved in the project.

In the new model, assessment and innovation take place in four stages via the digital tool. Step one is about determining which process or service to assess and which representatives from customers and providers to participate. In step two, the service is assessed where the service provider and the customer together rate about twenty claims about the service according to a four-point scale.

– He explains that both the service provider and the customer first make individual assessments of the claims. Then they meet to compare the results, in order to strengthen relationships and suggest improvements.

– In step three, there is a valuation of the proposed improvements according to feasibility, efficacy, and risk. In step four, you select the most appealing improvement proposal and make a decision, Stefan Cronholm says.

Could work in other industries

One of the conclusions of the project is that the digital tool provides support, for example for improving service delivery, streamlining processes, increasing the provider’s understanding of the customer’s perspective, facilitating collaboration on service design, as well as improving the customers’ understanding of the providers’ cost drivers and its impact on cost levels in the service agreement.

During the course of the project, more than 20 articles were published in scientific journals and presented at conferences, contributing to the research group in IT service management strengthening its position as the nationally leading research team in the field. Within the framework of the project, a conference on service innovation was held at the University of Borås and a new Nordic research network was established.

The next step in the research on process efficiency of services is to investigate other sectors outside the IT sector.

– The tool we developed has been proven to work for IT services, but we see no obstacles to why the fundamental ideas that the tool is based on could not be applied to other sectors or industries as well, such as the health sector, the pharmaceutical industry, or the banking sector, says Stefan Cronholm.

Read more

About the research group IT service management.

About the project.

About Stefan Cronholm.

Text: Anna Kjellsson
Photo: Anna Sigge 
Translator: Linda Lovecraft