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This article was originally published here on December 05, 2017.

To understand the business value of service mapping, it’s important to shift to a service delivery mindset, rather than thinking about delivering infrastructure, equipment, software, and applications. Defining services is relatively simple if thought of as the commoditization of what’s already being provided: how would you define and package what you offer if it was sold to a customer?

Services provide value to a customer by enabling them to predict their costs while driving revenue. A service can be anything from cable TV/Internet services, inventory management, or payroll services. These represent any combination of hardware, software, and personnel which make a product available to a customer. Service management is the set of practices organizations use to deliver and support their services.

What does a service portfolio represent?

The service portfolio is the financial investment in a set of services an organization provides, enabling it to balance investments across three types of areas:

Service catalog
Those services currently being offered or those that will become available very shortly, which the business is currently funding operationally.

Service pipeline
New services being developed, representing an investment into growth and innovation, and actions that keep the provider relevant in the market.

Retired services
Those services no longer offered and which are not funded at an operational level, representing the ability to reuse resources i.e., both physical items and staff resources.

Configuration management is at the core of an organization’s ability to provide services successfully, as it enables technical teams to manage the technical configuration of a device or service, understand how components are brought together to deliver a particular service, and how much is invested in the service to deliver and support it.

Service mapping is the term used for diagramming and documenting all of the components needed to operate each service the organization provides, enabling service and financial management. The information that follows offers five benefits of knowing this information, demonstrating why it’s so important.

Five business benefits of business service mapping:

1. Faster time to restore service by correlating a hardware or software failure to the service(s) it supports and engaging support teams more quickly.

Without service mapping
While it’s commonplace to monitor things like equipment, network traffic, and automated transactions for failures, without service mapping, manual effort is put into determining the criticality and impact of alerts. This can lead to a slower than necessary response to address the issue before consumers start to experience problems with the dependent services.

Conversely, when the service desk receives reports of a service outage, it’s too often a scramble to figure out what changed to cause the issue. While operators take time to understand the criticality of an alert and even more time to investigate the underlying cause of a service outage, the business may be financially impacted by loss of productivity or the inability to conduct business transactions.

With service mapping
Along with monitoring, application dependency mapping makes it possible to identify the issue, automate the creation of an incident, prioritize it, and drive appropriate escalations and communications with a clear business impact.

Teams can be working the issue far more quickly, perhaps even before the business realizes it’s experiencing an outage. Service mapping also provides visualizations of what other services may be impacted there-by enabling IT to be much more proactive.

2. Protecting the environment from security vulnerabilities

Without service mapping
Each time a new vulnerability is identified, the organization needs to determine whether they have the components involved in the threat and the criticality of services the components support.

Identifying the impact and mitigating the risk may take so much time that organizations never fully engage in vulnerability management, risking expensive outages and the organization’s reputation.

With service mapping
Application discovery and dependency mapping provides your team the ability to identify crucial and high-risk services/conditions that require immediate remediation.

An ability to visually see communications from mapped systems with unvalidated and potentially rogue systems will help you avoid network breaches and data leakage. Proactive awareness and remediation of vulnerabilities greatly reduces the risk of service availability disruptions and worse- having data stolen.

Click here to read about the convergence of ITSM and SecOps.

3. Improved risk management for execution of changes.

Without service mapping
Change requests are evaluated by a change advisory board (CAB) consisting of IT and other stakeholders to discuss the risk and impact of the proposed changes. These one to several hour meetings usually occur weekly and largely rely on the knowledge of individual stakeholders.

This all-hands-on-deck “tribal knowledge” approach is both inefficient and costly because it ties up many uninvolved individuals and relies on the understanding of fallible humans.

With service mapping
The service management system in which both change records and the CMDB reside can be automated to identify the necessary stakeholders, evaluate the risk of making the change, and predict the outcomes based on the performance of past changes of similar nature.

Automated risk calculation is more effective than tribal knowledge, costs less to perform, and enables approvals for very high-risk work to be managed by a much more targeted group of CAB participants. That allows the CAB to focus more time on the actual mitigation rather than the identification of risk.

Click here to read the Virima Change Management use case.

4. Proving the value of a service, or return on investment

Without service mapping
Understanding the true cost of ownership is either intensely manual or unable to be performed with any certainty unless each service has its own dedicated equipment and software (highly unlikely). To occur at all, the organization would have to know every component associated with a particular service and manually manipulate and correlate data to calculate these costs.

With service mapping
Mapping business services significantly streamlines reporting by enabling auditors to easily capture the costs associated with maintaining (change records) and supporting (incident and problem records) each service. While this requires the capturing and apportioning costs at the individual asset record level, it’s far easier to achieve when the service management system can tell auditors which components actually make up each service.

Click here to read the Virima Service Mapping use case.

5. Enable proactive IT service management (ITSM)

Without service mapping
It’s difficult for IT organizations to work proactively when staff cannot easily identify single points of failure or relate component failure to their impact on any business service.

Thus, without accurate application dependency and service mapping, most organizations rely on guesswork to make important decisions about how best to recover from service outages and prevent future ones from recurring.

With service mapping
Detailed service maps can help enterprise architects identify single points of failure and potential bottlenecks that could impact service availability. Additionally, monitoring system alerts can be automatically tied to the affected IT components and correlated to the supported service.

This allows service desks operators to priority assign technicians to repair the fault or make other adjustments even before symptoms are felt by the service consumers. The ability to mitigate and stop outages of vital services protects the organization’s reputation and revenue stream.

Click here to read the Virima ITSM use case.

In conclusion

Each of these areas points to ways in which business service mapping makes your critical business services more reliable, secure and available. This protects your organization from financial loss, loss of customers and other business threats caused by unstable systems and services. All great reasons for sure but even just eliminating the guesswork of how your services are supported should be enough to justify the investment of time and resources needed to achieve a fully-mapped CMDB.

In the market for service mapping automation tools? Virma has you covered. Virima IT discovery and CMDB power the creation of incredibly detailed application dependency maps, infrastructure relationship maps, network topology maps and of course service mapping.

Virima Discovery and Business Service Maps can be integrated with other third-party applications, such as ServiceNow and Cherwell.

Virima features can automatically discover and map your critical IT resources and the interconnections that link them to one another, your applications and services, and your users.

Virima is here to help. To get started, contact us today to schedule a demo and explore the possibilities!

If you’d like to publish us in your publication, please reach out to us at info@virima.com

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