In praise of ITSM engagement models

When establishing the relationship with an external service provider (outsourcer), why do we document a whole operating model spanning both organisations? The whole point of outsourcing is that the supplier should be a black box, with inputs, outputs and performance requirements. What we need to define is the interface between the two entities, to ensure the operating models of each one mesh properly together. Define the connecting cogs, or the plug-and-socket - choose your analogy.

This is more efficient: we don't redundantly document processes which already exist, and are documented elsewhere. It is more effective: we focus on the gaps, specifying the requirements for change in each organisation in order to connect their operating models.

It seems this is pioneering stuff: there is very little published on what an engagement model should look like or how to develop and use it. So I built one.

ImageFor the purposes of this post, a supplier engagement model documents the practical details of the operational interface between two organisations where one supplies a service to the other - how it works.

What I find usually happens is that we document operational process and work procedures in each of the two engaging organisations, the supplier and the customer, but when we want to know exactly how the two interact, we have to pick the details out of both sides. I have never liked that approach. If the customer company already has effective processes, and we should not care how the supplier company does there job, then it seems odd to me to redundantly re-document our own processes and document another company's processes. All we need to document is those touch points, and possibly we need to request updates to our core process document to note differences.

We TALK about engagement models but I don't recall seeing a good one.

I did raise the question on Facebook's BACK2 ITSM group and you can see the discussion here.

And I dug around:
I have eSCM. So far I've not been able to find an engagement model in it.
The ITIL V1 book Managing Supplier Relationships does have a RACI chart (Annex F) which is a start.
There might be something in the ISO/IEC 20000 guidance? I have currently mislaid it.

Please comment if you know of a description in any source of what a supplier-customer operational engagement model looks like.

So I built one.

My idea for a Supplier Engagement Model is described over on my "useful things" website: Basic Service Management.

We have been doing data normalisation and code API abstraction for decades. So why haven't we applied the same simplifying principles to defining the relationship between organisations more often?

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