Education Technology

Service Boot Camp: From Service Ownership to Product Management

My intent in coming to this session is to get a better handle on the IT Service Management wave that’s (seemingly) washing over higher education IT. It’s definitely a hot topic in 2018, and I know these presenters know what they’re talking about and are good at what they do. In my mind, I’ve distilled ITSM down to “categorize and define the things you do for the people you serve.” From this comes a common language by which you can talk about, plan for and quantify that work. Well, at least that’s what it looks like to me from the outside…


  • Todd Jensen, IT Service Management, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • Luke Tracy, Enterprise Architect, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • Chas Grundy, Manager, Product Services, University of Notre Dame


Morning Section

Question to the group: How many services does your organization offer? Service document calls out 8 service categories, 52 services and a bunch of service offerings.

Service Catalog: Service Categories > Services > Service Offerings

Analogy: you can think about a service offering as a box sitting on a services shelf

Service Owner (SO) is accountable for the delivery of an IT service and the service offerings within.

  • Ensures that the service receives strategic attention and appropriate resources
  • Is responsible for the service as a whole through its entire lifecycle and is accountable to the person in charge of overall IT service delivery
  • SO skills include communicator, strategic thinker, leadership, service level understanding, resource allocation, listening, storytelling, business analysis, financial planning & budgeting, metrics, public speaking, relationship management, service assessment, etc.

Service Offering Manager (SOM) Defined: is responsible for the delivery of an IT service offering.

  • Purpose of this role is to ensure comprehensive, efficient, and transparent management of and communication about the IT service offering.
  • Accountable to the SO for the design, implementation, and ongoing maintenance and support of the offering.
  • SOM Skills: everything associated with running a service offering, more tactical than the SO.

Where to SOs and SOMs sit in the org chart? This is not in the ECAR org chart, and it really depends on your organization.

Service Offering Manager (SOM) = Product Manager (for the purposes of this presentation).

A service owner generally thinks at a higher level than a product manager. They manage the product mix (ecosystem) for the university and customers. They plan the service strategy, roadmap, and business plan. They also consider which product is right for which customer/use case, and determine whether the products are appropriately managed – including metrics.

Service Reviews 101

A service review is an annual look at what we have, where it’s going, why we think so, what we should do. At Michigan, they call this a “MESA,” or Michigan Enterprise Strategic Assessment. A hard copy of a document was provided to help in conducting this assessment.

Structure: SOs build the service review and present to standards and architecture each year. S&A will set a schedule for service reviews so you have time to prepare. It should take a few hours to complete, depending on the SO’s knowledge of the service…should take 15-20 minutes to present.

  • Identify/define the service owner name
  • Make a list of the service offering ecosystem, which includes details about support model, user adoption, incidents, annual spend, FTE to deliver offering
  • Service roadmap lays out the life cycle from Evaluate > Ramp up > Fully Available > Ramp Down > Retire
  • Statuses: Evaluating, Recommended, Not Recommended, Retired
  • Product Mix: MESA. Places each product into one of the categories based on where it is in the service or product lifecycle.

Market Analysis

  • Industry: what is happening in general industry, what are the trends and expectations for where it’s heading. Who are the leaders and innovators? Where do our offerings fit?
  • Higher ed: what offerings do our peers use? Use the AAU Private Universities standard benchmark group if possible. What are the trends in higher ed?
  • What other projects do we have going on; what dependencies do we have?
  • Benchmarking: look at what our peers are doing and reach out to them when possible.

Service Checklist

  • Information security review
    • Privileged accounts
    • Cloud security assessment (HECVAT)
    • Data handling
  • Service catalog is up to date
    • ID appropriate backups
    • Business applications
    • Dependencies

Customer Value Model

Treacy and Wiersema model for strategic differentiation.

Customer Intimacy / Product Leadership / Operational Excellence

Organizations that focus on ONE of the above traits performed best.

  • Customer Intimacy: Total solution, tailored to the customer’s needs. “They are the experts in my business,” “I got exactly what I needed,” “They do everything with me in mind.”
  • Product Leadership: Continually redefine state-of-the-art. “Premium priced, but worth it,” “Can you believe their new product?” “I would never settle for anything less.”
  • Operational Excellence: Reliable, best price, hassle-free service. “Great price and quality,” “Their products last and last,” “So convenient, in and out in a flash,” “Consistency is their middle name.”

Four rules of the Customer Value Model

  1. Provide best offering in the marketplace by excelling in a specific dimension of value
  2. Maintain threshold standards on other dimensions of value
  3. Dominate your market by improving value year after year
  4. Build a well-tuned operating model dedicated to delivering unmatched value

Elements of the Operational Machine

Each of the following include the three traits of the Customer Value Model described above.

  • Customer Expectations
  • Operating Structure
  • Core Processes
  • Culture
  • Mantra
  • Formula

Service Strategy

Strongly encourage using a template, consistency makes it easier for readers to digest.

  • What is it?
  • What are the needs?
  • What is the strategy?
  • What are the initiatives?
  • What does success look like?

Product Decision Framework

  1. Clearly define the service: audience, use cases, etc.
  2. ID the products you want to promote, excluding any we don’t want to encourage
  3. Pick one “preferred” or default product that people should use unless they meet one of the other cases/requirements
  4. ID differentiating use cases that result in a different product choice
  5. Build a feature chart/matrix of all recommended solutions
  6. Design the decision tree always resulting in a single product recommendation (if needed)
  7. Produce a one-page guide for training and distribution (if needed)

Afternoon Section

This section is more about the service offerings management component; what does it mean to deliver services? We’re talking about the component of the Service Strategy that is…

Operation: Strategy > Concept > Deployment > Manage > Retire

Reviewed the Product Management Value Proposition Lifecycle

“The product manager is the CEO of the product.”

Product Management is the intersection of Users, Tech and Business

Most of the product lifecycle is taken up by the manage phase, because a product may be in use for many years.

The group then went through a product scorecard, which had a hard copy handout.

  • For each category, rate how well it meets the need
  • Fill in notes to explain the ratings
  • Create a plan for scores you want to change


  • Use your own product!
  • How do users feel about my product?
  • How do people learn how to use it?
  • What features do they want?
  • Is this still the right product?
  • Use listening posts: blogs, news sources, and more.
  • Build the vendor relationship: provide feedback or feature requests, stay in contact, join customer advisory boards, etc.
  • Change management matters!
  • Use metrics
  • Use chocolate bars

Tactics for Retiring a Service Offering

When the product can no longer meet the needs of the user, the technology, and the business, it is time to retire the project.

Language matters!

  • Retirement vs. End of Life
  • Sense of opportunity vs. Sense of loss
  • Etc.

We reviewed a worksheet hand out on retiring a service offering. Consider Customer use:

  • Use case or core functionality
  • Hard requirement or nice-to-have?
  • Alternative solutions or approaches

Change Management

  1. All at Once: hard cutover. Best when compatibility is an issue or support is untenable.
  2. Golden Path: promote better alternative, organic transition; seek critical mass. Best when end users strongly prefer the new solution.
  3. Adoption Curve: soft launch – opt-in first, then replace for all users. Best when you need to learn or adjust over time.
  4. Phased: Live in both worlds, roll out by group or location. Best when solutions can coexist and support is biggest concern.
  5. Ferry Boat: Pass costs along to remaining users; costs increase as users abandon ship. Best when a few users are clinging to the old solution.

Listen for, Pivot around, Help solve…THE PROBLEM.

…and then we played the Product Management Game, and I got to play the role of a CIO!

The Product Management Game







Me as a CIO

Me as a CIO

Debrief: was this a realistic experience, did you get any experiences that you could relate to? Yes!

Wrap Up, Key Takeaways

  • Define terms
  • ID service owners
  • Create tools for service ownership
  • Provide training for service owners
  • Establish processes to sustain the change
  • Measure, evaluate, and improve


By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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