Project Management Office but not a Service Management Office?

Blog post   •   Feb 10, 2014 14:44 CET

IT professionals typically know what a Project Management Office (PMO) is and think it is a natural thing to have. But few think of the Service Management Office (SMO) in the same way?

This post is intended to raise the profile of the SMO by providing an overview of what is an SMO and why and when an SMO is required.

What do we mean by SMO?

The SMO can be described by the following characteristics:

  • A group or function within business, in particular IT,that is accountable for governing, defining, managing and developing standards for service management and service management processes.
  • It is the point of escalation and management of IT services in daily operations.
  • It ensures that the governance, legal and financial interests of an enterprise are met in continuous operations.
  • It ensures that services are defined, continuous service operation processes work in practice and vendors are managed according to policies defined by the corporate e.g. SMO itself.

There is always a role for SMO in an IT service organization but it is particularly relevant in an outsourced environment, whether it be a single source or multi-source environment.

SMO House

Figure 1. above shows SMO house

Why and when do you need a SMO?

There are of course various reasons why you need to organize your service management work in a structured way. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Different sourcing models and especially multi-sourcing requires clearly defined ownership and accountability.
  • Service design and transition in a sourced environment requires strong disciplines for decision-making.
  • The delivery of services will be optimized by separating the process and service accountability.
  • To secure and strengthen the connection between service desk and ITIL processes
  • Provide metrics and drive process improvement.
  • Improve communication in general thus increasing transparency and control.
  • More effective delivery of cross functional services.

The SMO acts as the focal point within the organization to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of delivered services by centralizing common resources, methods and techniques.

Like a PMO the primary purpose of the SMO is to give structure and support to the delivery of IT services. While a PMO focuses on the project portfolio, programs and individual projects, the SMO focuses on the continuous operations and day-to-day activities. SMO is an organizational unit that safeguards the agreed way of working. It is, in our experience, a key enabler to manage a single sourced or multi-sourced environment. In contrast to a PMO, the SMO operates during the whole lifecycle of a service or an application, to secure a quality service.


Figure 2. above shows SMO and PMO in service lifecycle

The operational and strategic SMO

The SMO consists of both operational and strategic activities. It supports both service development and service operations.

  • The SMO supports service development activities by providing guidance for seamless service transition to operations.
  • The SMO supports Service Operations by ensuring compliance with common delivery processes that are managed by different process managers across the organization.

By now you may have guessed that the SMO could contain functions and roles like service introduction/transition, process owners, Service Desk management as well as support tools.

In our next post on the SMO we will explore various roles and function and their interfaces as well as the relevant processes. Our model does not assume one size fits all but rather provides for small, medium and large variations, suited to the customers’ requirements.  The size of the SMO should not be seen as a reflection of the IS organization size. It is more a reflection of service management maturity and sourcing strategy. So if you are working in an IT/IS organization that is not working, maybe a SMO would make the difference.

Keep your eyes open for our next post on the subject!

Magnus SjöholmMagnus Sjöholm
Senior Manager
+46 709 15 44 46

Please contact 3gamma for more information on how we can help your organization achieve the SMO it deserves.