Team Service Management Function Overview

Published: April 25, 2008


If the goal of IT departments is to effectively deliver the IT services required by their organizations, then it is important for those who are involved in planning, delivering, and operating those services to be able to:

  • Understand the business and operational needs for the service and create a solution that delivers within the service specification.
  • Effectively and efficiently deploy the solution to users with as little disruption to the business as the service levels specify.
  • Operate the solution with excellence in order to deliver a service that the business trusts and relies on.

The best way to accomplish those goals is to ensure that someone is ultimately accountable for them, as well as the work required to accomplish them. Everyone doing that required work must have a clear role, understand the responsibilities that go with that role, and have the right skills for carrying out those responsibilities.

At the heart of the Team SMF is a set of accountabilities for ensuring that the right work gets done. Each accountability maps to one or more of the MOF service management functions that describe the processes and activities that make up the work of IT pros throughout the IT service lifecycle.

Although some accountabilities might vary depending on the IT organization in which they exist, there is a core of accountabilities that should be standard across most organizations. They are:

  • Support, which is associated with the Operate Phase of the IT service lifecycle
  • Operations, which is associated with the Operate Phase
  • Service, which is associated with the Plan Phase
  • Compliance, which is associated with the Manage Layer
  • Architecture, which is associated with the Plan Phase
  • Solutions, which is associated with the Deliver Phase
  • Management, which is associated with the Manage Layer

Each of these accountabilities has a set of roles types associated with it, and each role type has a set of responsibilities and goals associated with it. A role type is a generic description of a role that might be found in an organization. In effect, it is a role that might be called one thing in one organization and something else in another. For example, a role type referred to in the Team SMF is Problem Analyst. That role type might be called something else—for example, a Network Problem Analyst—in certain organizations. The goal of a role type is to offer something recognizable so organizations know how that position might map to existing roles.

The MOF Team SMF is based on the concept that individuals and teams across the IT service lifecycle must achieve a number of key quality goals to be successful. The IT service lifecycle describes the life of an IT service, from planning and optimizing the IT service to align with the business strategy, through the design and delivery of the IT service, to its ongoing operation and support. Underlying all of this is a foundation of IT governance, risk management, compliance, and change management.

It is important to remember that the Team SMF is not describing a single team, virtual or otherwise. In some instances it will describe work being done by individuals, while in others it might describe work done by a project team or a dedicated team, depending on the nature of the work and its position within the IT service lifecycle.

The Team SMF describes how IT can organize to ensure that the right accountabilities are addressed.

Goals of the Team SMF

The MOF Team SMF demonstrates how to build and maintain an IT organization that is:

  • Accountable: ensures that required IT work gets done
  • Responsible: identifies who will do required IT work through:
    • Creating role types and roles
    • Establishing principles and best practices
    • Identifying who is best for each role
  • Flexible: built around agile physical and virtual teams
  • Scalable: able to meet the needs of different-sized organizations

Table 1. Outcomes and Measures of the Team SMF Goals



Accountability assigned for all required IT work

  • Upper management knows and understands accountabilities
  • All accountabilities are assigned to someone

Responsibility assigned for all required IT work

  • All work is owned and responsibilities are clear
  • Staff members know what they need to do

Accountability and responsibility assignments are clearly communicated

  • IT professionals know their roles and who they need to coordinate with

Assignments are flexible enough to meet changing business needs

  • Organization can change quickly to adapt to business needs
  • Services drive the assignments (rather than assignments driving the services provided)

Key Terms

The following table contains definitions of key terms found in this guide.

Table 2. Key Terms




A way of organizing IT work that ensures the right work gets done by assigning someone who is held accountable for whether it gets done.


The details of the work that has to be done by a role type.


A set of responsibilities in an IT organization. Depending on the effort required and the size of the organization, a single person might perform a single role or multiple roles, or a single role might be performed by multiple persons.

Role type

A generic variation of the term role, used to indicate that a particular role might be similar and serve roughly the same purposes in different IT organizations, but be called by different names.


A group of people linked in a common purpose, generally for conducting complex tasks that have interdependent subtasks.

Dedicated team

A team that exists for ongoing work, with no specific dissolution time in mind. An example of a dedicated team might be an operations team that shares ongoing maintenance for an IT service or IT component.

Project team

A team that is formed for a project, with a specific formation time and dissolution time. An example of a project team might be one formed to build a new IT service.

Team of peers

A concept mostly related to project teams, where each role on the project team owns a quality goal for success. In effect, the roles on the team are interdependent peers of each other.

Virtual team

A group of individuals who work across boundaries of time, space, and organizations with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. Dedicated and project teams can be virtual.

Accountabilities and Role Types

Put simply, focusing on accountabilities as a way of organizing IT work ensures that the right work gets done because someone is held accountable for whether it gets done.

Another way to look at accountability is to say that it is the who portion of the who, what, why, and how formula for getting work done. For example:

  • Accountability = Who (owner)
  • Advocacy for quality = Why
  • Responsibility = What (details)
  • Tasks/activities = How

Each accountability in an organization should map to a significant piece of work that must be completed within one of the three phases of the IT service lifecycle, or as part of the Manage Layer. MOF service management functions describe that work and the processes and activities that make up the work of IT pros throughout the IT service lifecycle.

Each accountability has a set of role types associated with it, and each role type has a set of responsibilities and goals associated with it.

Ultimately, the number and type of accountabilities will vary with each organization. But the following seven core accountabilities are likely to be fairly standard across most IT organizations:

Table 3 lists those seven accountabilities, the primary SMF goals for each, and the nature of the work they are accountable for.

Table 3. Team SMF Accountabilities and the SMFs They Are Tied To



Nature of Work


Customer Service

Problem Management



Operations Management

Service Monitoring and Control

Plan-driven, repetitive


Business/IT Alignment

Plan-driven, long-term


Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Plan-driven, repetitive



  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Availability
  • Capacity
  • Continuity

Plan-driven, long-term



Project Planning




Plan-driven, short-term


Financial Management

Business/IT Alignment


  • Policy Governance
  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Partner and Third-Party Relationships
  • Knowledge Management
  • Appropriate Use

Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Change and Configuration


Plan-driven, long-term

The following seven tables list the role types and attendant responsibilities and goals for each of the seven accountabilities.

Support Accountability

The Support Accountability addresses role types that are important to two SMFs from the Operate Phase of the IT service lifecycle: Customer Service and Problem Management. Customer Service is focused on providing a positive experience for users by meeting their IT needs and addressing complaints and issues that arise during the normal course of using an IT service. Problem Management is focused on resolving complex problems that may be beyond the scope of Incident Resolution requests.

Table 4 lists the role types associated with the Support Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and goals for each role type.

Table 4. Support Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type



Customer Service Representative

  • Handles calls
  • Is first contact with user
  • Registers calls, categorizes, determines supportability, and passes on calls


  • Help the customer

Incident Resolver

  • Diagnoses
  • Investigates
  • Resolves


  • Fix incidents

Incident Coordinator

  • Responsible for incident from beginning to end (quality control)


  • Solve incident as quickly as possible

Problem Analyst

  • Investigates and diagnoses


  • Find underlying root causes of the incidents

Problem Manager

  • Identifies problems from the incident list


  • Prevent future incidents

Customer Service Manager

  • Accountable role for the  goals of support
  • Covers incidents and problems


  • Effectively and efficiently decrease incidents and incident solution time
  • Increases effectiveness of resolutions and reduces costs

Operations Accountability

The Operations Accountability addresses role types that are important to two SMFs that are also in the Operate Phase of the IT service lifecycle: Operations and Service Monitoring and Control. Operations is focused on ensuring effective and efficient day-to-day IT operations. Service Monitoring and Control is focused on the real-time observation of and alerting about health conditions (characteristics that indicate success or failure) in an IT environment. 

Table 5 lists the role types associated with the Operations Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and goals for each role type.

Table 5. Operations Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type




  • Executes pre-planned tasks that are instruction based


  • To be predictable and follow instructions


  • Executes tasks that are not well defined, requiring a deeper level of knowledge


  • Ensure predictable results

Technology Area Manager

  • Responsible for daily performance of components in a specific technology area
  • Owns the work instructions
  • Ensures operational requirements are met for the technology area


  • Stable operations of technology
  • Maximize structured work to hand off to operator and administrator, or to be automated (where possible)

Monitoring Manager

  • Responsible for Service Monitoring and Control (SMC) SMF tasks
  • Ensures that the right systems are monitored
  • Facilitates effective monitoring mechanism
  • Expert on how to monitor, not what to monitor


  • Ensure needed monitoring information is generated

Scheduling Manager

  • Plans schedule of individual activities within Operations
  • Makes timing decisions
  • Plans operational work, including maintenance
  • Ensures operational work has been scheduled


  • Avoid conflicting work
  • Allocates resources to manage service levels

Operations Manager

  • Accountable for Operations SMF and Service Monitoring and Control


  • Ensure predictable, repeatable, and automated day-to-day system management

Service Accountability

The Service Accountability addresses the role types that are important to the Business/IT Alignment SMF, which is located in the Plan Phase of the IT service lifecycle. Business/IT Alignment focuses on strengthening the alignment between IT departments and the larger organizations within which they exist.

Table 6 lists the role types associated with the Service Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and goals for each role type.

Table 6. Service Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type



Supplier Manager

  • Tracks external vendors who provide supporting services and products


  • Ensure effective vendor relationships

Portfolio Manager

  • Keeps a set of service offerings up to date and aligned to business needs
  • Maintains the overall service catalog


  • Ensure available services are accurately reflected in the service catalog

Account Manager

  • Serves as a link between users or customers and the IT organization
  • Meets with customer, discusses current issues, and makes sure that expectations are aligned


  • Ensure effective customer and user relationships

Service Level Manager

  • Accountable role for Business/IT Alignment
  • Acts as the main interface between the business and the IT service delivery organization
  • Handles all issues and development in the area of Service Level Management, including development and agreement of SLAs, OLAs, and UCs.
  • Represents the business, but is working with and within the IT organization


  • Ensure effective IT service delivery within specified SLAs

Compliance Accountability

The Compliance Accountability addresses the role types that are important to the Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) SMF, which is located in the Manage Layer of the IT service lifecycle. GRC focuses on providing IT services that are effective, efficient, and compliant.

Table 7 lists the role types associated with the Compliance Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and goals for each role type.

Table 7. Compliance Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type



IT Executive Officer

  • Communicates IT strategy and approves IT management objectives
  • Approves  policy
  • Maintains tone-at-the-top for culture of control and compliance


  • Consistent progress toward strategic goals achieved through appropriate and desired activities

IT Manager

  • Enforces policy compliance and communication
  • Evaluates policy effectiveness
  • Requests changes to policy or exceptions


  • Compliance to directives and policies
  • Predictable and reliable results achieved through appropriate means
  • Policy violations addressed

Risk and Compliance Manager

  • Owns risk management, compliance roadmap, enforcement, and measurement


  • Organization does not violate laws or regulations
  • Risks are identified and managed
  • Policies are enforced

Assurance and Reporting

  • Audits design and operating  effectiveness of processes
  • Investigates non-compliance
  • Owns reporting and recommendations


  • Well-understood control environment
  • Independent validation of compliance program
  • Fraud or undesired activity discovered

Internal Control Manager

  • Manages internal control environment, document control objectives, and control design
  • Retains evidence of control activity


  • Effective control environment documented with audit trails
  • Appropriate retention of control operating evidence


  • Analyzes regulations and determines policy impact
  • Evaluates legal position related to compliance
  • Represents legal opinion in decision making


  • Policy reflects desired response to regulation
  • Legal risks managed

IT Policy Manager

  • Manages policy creation, change, and maintenance
  • Owns policy communication
  • Owns improvements to policy effectiveness


  • Effective use of policy to guide actions
  • Awareness through clearly written and communicated policies

Architecture Accountability

The Architecture Accountability addresses the role types that are important to the Reliability SMF, which is located in the Plan Phase of the IT service lifecycle. The Reliability SMF focuses on ensuring the reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness of an IT service or system.

Table 8 lists the role types associated with the Architecture Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and goals for each role type.

Table 8. Architecture Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type



Architecture Manager

  • Ensures creation and maintenance of architecture plan


  • Provide roadmap for future use to support design process and ensure operability

Reliability Manager

  • Uses input from SMC to look at current bottlenecks and propose solutions


  • Ensure current state is reliable


  • Looks at future directions and solutions to propose across infrastructure
  • Designs future state


  • Facilitate Business/IT alignment
  • Develop long-term possible solutions and choices
  • Describe future consequences and possibilities

Solutions Accountability

The Solutions Accountability addresses the role types that are important to five SMFs in the Deliver Phase of the IT service lifecycle: Envision, Project Planning, Build, Stabilize, and Deploy. The Envision SMF focuses on turning business requirements into new or improved IT services that can be delivered into production. The Project Planning SMF focuses on how project teams complete the bulk of their planning work: preparing the functional specification and solution design and preparing work plans, cost estimates, and schedules. The Build SMF focuses on developing the IT service solution deliverables to the customer’s specifications, developing the solution documentation, creating the development and test lab, and preparing the solution for pilot deployment. The Stabilize SMF focuses on releasing the highest-quality solution possible at the Release Readiness Milestone. The Deploy SMF focuses on releasing a stable solution into the production environment. 

Table 9 lists the role types associated with the Solutions Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and goals for each role type.

Table 9. Solutions Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type



Solution Manager

  • Accountable role
  • Owns all SMFs in this accountability
  • Acts as project director for all projects
  • Resolves conflicts between projects


  • Ensure all projects run smoothly and transition successfully to Operations

Program Manager

  • Drives design, schedule, and resources at the project level


  • Ensure that individual projects run smoothly, and build the right solution at the right time.


  • Builds the agreed-to solution


  • Ensure delivery to agreed-to specifications


  • Tests to accurately determine the quality of solution development
  • Identifies errors, bugs and faults


  • Ensure all known issues are resolved before release

Product Manager

  • Acts as the customer advocate, helps drive shared project vision, and manages customer expectations


  • Ensure customer satisfaction

User Experience

  • Acts as user advocate on project teams
  • Helps define user requirements and helps design to meet them


  • Ensure released solution is usable and meets end users’ needs

Release Management

  • Evaluates the solution design
  • Documents operations requirements to ensure that they are met by the design
  • Creates a pilot, deployment plan, and schedule
  • Manages site deployment


  • Ensure a stable solution is deployed to the production environment

Operations Experience

  • Advocates for Operations on the project team
  • Brings in Operations experts as needed for detailed information
  • Coordinates with release management


  • Ensure operational requirements are part of the solution design and addressed before release

Test Manager

  • Owns all the testing across all project teams
  • Develops testing strategy and plans
  • Ensures that best practice test methods are used


  • Test matches production
  • No surprises

Management Accountability

The Management Accountability addresses the role types that are important to five SMFs, three of them from the Plan Phase of the IT service lifecycle, and two of them from the Manage Layer. Those SMFs are Financial Management; Business/IT Alignment; Policy; Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC); and Change and Configuration. Financial Management focuses on providing IT-relevant activities and considerations that improve financial management practices. Business/IT Alignment focuses on strengthening the alignment between IT departments and the larger organizations within which they exist. Policy focuses on ensuring documented, up-to-date guidelines that address the desired actions and behaviors of an organization. Governance, Risk, and Compliance focuses on providing IT services that are effective, efficient, and compliant. Change and Configuration focuses on creating an environment where changes can be made with the least amount of risk and impact to the organization.

Table 10 lists the role types associated with the Management Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and goals for each role type.

Table 10. Management Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type



IT Executive Officer

  • Sponsors IT initiatives
  • Approves structures and overall IT processes
  • Owns metrics and benchmarking
  • Owns board and executive relationships


  • Well-run and effective IT services
  • IT continually improving performance with an improvement roadmap in place

IT Manager

  • Manages processes
  • Identifies and engages appropriate participants in decision process
  • Manages risk and IT business value realization dependencies
  • Owns business/IT relationship


  • Effective management decisions
  • IT compliant with directives
  • Risk and value realized are appropriately balanced
  • Metrics are used for reporting and improvement planning

IT Policy Manager

  • Sees that management decisions are informed by policy and that policy is effectively used across IT


  • Policies effectively direct organization toward appropriate activities

IT Risk and Compliance Manager

  • Manages overall risk management and compliance programs
  • Communicates GRC processes and requirements to organization


  • Well-communicated GRC processes and expectations
  • Individuals understand their GRC responsibilities and take action accordingly

Assurance and Reporting

  • Validates design and operating effectiveness of IT organization, processes, and control environment
  • Recommends changes for improvement


  • IT organization constantly under review and continually being improved
  • Board and shareholders confident in management decision and resulting processes

Change Manager

  • Manages the activities of the change management process for the IT organization


  • Change that is planned and understood, with risks that are managed

Configuration Administrator

  • Tracks what is changing and its impact
  • Tracks configuration items (CIs)
  • Updates CMS


  • Configuration changes are recorded
  • Maintains known state
  • Performs configuration audits

Key Principles

Although there are several ways organizations might use the Team SMF to organize IT work, most of those approaches have several key principles in common. Those principles range from tips on where and how to start organizing to advice on how to combine accountabilities and roles.

Start with People

Traditionally, organizations start improvement efforts by working on implementing or improving their use of technology or their processes. Starting with people improvement instead—by focusing on accountabilities, roles, and responsibilities—is easier to understand and less abstract than process, which means it can be adopted more easily. When people understand what to do and how to do it, improving process and technology becomes much easier.

Separate Plan-Driven and Interrupt-Driven Work

Plan-driven or proactive work should be predictable, in terms of both what gets done and how much time is spent getting it done, and when it gets done. However, if that sort of work gets mixed with reactive work, the predictability gets lost.

The repetitive tasks and activities required to maintain an IT service in production are usually considered planned work. An example of such a task might be defragmentation of databases. An example of interrupt-driven work might be handling calls as a customer service representative. This role is driven by events that are outside of the control of the representative. It is worth noting that not all planned work is repetitive. Project work is an example of that. However, in those cases where planned work is repetitive, it should be automated wherever possible.

Put the Right People in the Right Roles

Once the role type has defined the work to be done, it makes sense to look for people who have an aptitude and personality type that lend themselves to that sort of work. For example, the Operations Accountability has an Operator Role Type associated with it, with responsibility for work that has predictable results. It makes sense to staff that role type with someone who enjoys standardized, predictable work, and who does well at following instructions.

Encourage Advocacy

Advocacy offers a way to represent different points of view, and it helps ensure coverage for all the types of work that need to be to be done. Advocacy encourages good decisions and effective and efficient processes.

Start with Accountability

The accountable person has the power to ensure that required work gets done and is ultimately held responsible for whether that occurs.

Make Responsibilities Clear to the Owner

The responsible person needs to have a clear understanding of what has to be done.

Combine Accountabilities and Role Types Where Appropriate

Some accountabilities and role types can be combined for scaling purposes, and some cannot. (For example, it would be inadvisable to combine the role types Test and Development or the Solutions Accountability with Operations Accountability.)

Ensure Constant Coverage in Operations

Because of the nature and criticality of Operations work, it is important to assign work in a way that ensures constant coverage in that area. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to assign resources to Operations first, to Support second, and Solutions third.

This accelerator is part of a larger series of tools and guidance from Solution Accelerators.


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