The 6 Synergies Between Service and Project Management

Here it comes again

Do you know when someone keeps asking you the same question again and again? 

First of all, please let me give you some context. I've been working for 2 years as IT Service Manager for one important car manufacturing company based in Martorell. After that period I moved again to Project Management positions and started leading global projects within the pharma sector. 

During this period of time, in every single job interview I had (from companies who contacted me on Linkedin) I found the same question:  "Why did you decide changing your role?"

In this post I'll try to explain the answer I gave all of them.

Important tip: Project Managers with previous experience in service management roles have the advantage of having the full picture in terms of service lifecycle (starting with the service deployment during the project phase and ending with the service operation). This gives awareness about some key processes in place during the handover to operations.

Identifying the synergies

From my point of view, service and project management instead of being opposites, are complementary.

In this section we will go through the key activities in both roles and will identify the synergies between them.

1. Team Management

Management positions require leadership skills. Managing a team requires a huge list of soft-skills. It doesn't matter if you manage a project team or a support group of operations, at the end of the day you are managing people, which have the same questions, problems, uncertainties, training requirements...

2. Time Management

Stressful situations are a common factor in management positions. You have to cope with requests you didn't expect and deliver them on time. In this case you'll have to prioritize and react accordingly. 

Project sponsor may be requesting a project progress report, or maybe the Incident Manager is pushing you to deliver the Root Cause Analysis of the last P1 incident. 

3. Reporting

When you have a responsibility role you usually have to report about the activities you are performing. As a Service Manager your responsibility is to assure the service is being delivered in a proper way, so you have to report about the service levels. 

On the other side, the Project Manager objective is to deliver the project on time, scope and budget, so the Project Manager reports about the project progress and all that may be impacting time, scope or budget.

4. Monitoring

Monitoring tools are something very powerful which we as managers should rely on. Service Managers need to monitor the service levels by using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and comparing with SLAs (Service Level Agreements).  Project Managers are monitoring project health by reviewing regularly the timeline view to assess project deviations. Risk and Issue assessment y also another key parameter to be monitored.

5. Financial Management

At the of the day, financial management is all about managing to get budget, prepare the forecast and then follow up to assess forecast deviations. If these deviations happen, then manage them accordingly. This is a very high level and simple explanation and I know it may become a lot more complex if we deep dive in each of these steps. 

The forecast in service management may be prepared based in assumptions about server number increase per month (assuming there's a fix rate/server). The Project Manager will prepare the forecast taking into consideration another factors like HW delivery times (e.g., chip shortage impacting almost all HW purchases these days).

6. Incident vs Issue

At some point during your management journey there's a day when you have to cope with a high priority and high visibility situation. 

In service management, this is taking the form of a priority 1 incident. The way to manage this situation is by leading "crisis meetings" while working with the team to identify the root cause to solve it. It may be necessary deploy a workaround to avoid the service impact. Once the P1 is closed, a RCA (Root Cause Analysis, also know as "Post-Mortem report") will be created and shared with the management level.

On the other side, in project management we need to face Issues directly impacting the project. The way to proceed in this case is similar to P1 situation, we need to align with all the parties to identify the root cause and come up with an action plan to close it (or reduce the impact as much as possible). 

So, what about you? Which role are you working on? Do you think these synergies are in place? Did you already identify any of them? Please, feel free to share with me your thoughts about this topic by adding a comment to this post.

Synergies between Service and Project Management

Project Management
December 11, 2021


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