The concept of service lifecycle management, or SLM, has been around for some time now; however, the tools to actually make it happen are still relatively new. Not only that, they are continually evolving. Additionally, these tools continue to build upon themselves to provide users with more power and flexibility to manage their services operations. The upside of this growth in empowerment is that if your organization has already implemented SLM, then it is already on the fast track toward being able to effectively manage its total base of capital equipment, mission-critical assets, and human capital. The downside, however, is that if you have not already embraced the concept, you may be wasting precious time.
While we have seen a great deal of growth in the acceptance of service lifecycle management over the past year or so, I still believe the market to be grossly undertapped with respect to its widespread availability. For example, there are many vendors that claim to offer complete suites of customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and asset management (AM) functionality; but few, if any, can fully deliver on their claim. However, I believe, that through the use of a credible, comprehensive and modular model that effectively integrates state-of-the-art technologies to support the most critical business applications, there is an SLM solution that can deliver what it takes to effectively run a services organization.
In an age where CRM, SCM, ERP, AM and all the other acronym-based solutions simply cannot cut it in and of themselves, only SLM addresses each of the factors that are important to organizations for whom downtime is not an option, and resource utilization directly impacts financial performance. This is what SLM is designed to do, and an SLM solution is what the most progressive types of services organizations are using to differentiate themselves from the also-rans.
However, there are still presently many alternative definitions of service lifecycle management being tossed about in the marketplace – and not all of them reflect the full value proposition. From a practical operating standpoint, I believe there is really only one all-encompassing definition that addresses every critical aspect required in managing the business; a definition that is both universal, as well as customizable to each individual user’s business environment.
At Astea we define service lifecycle management as “a solution that supports the complete service lifecycle, from lead generation and project quotation, to service and billing, through asset retirement”. We further define SLM to encompass the integration and optimization of critical business processes including the contact center, field service, depot repair, logistics, professional services, and sales and marketing. We believe a comprehensive SLM suite also extends into portal, business intelligence, dynamic scheduling, and mobile solutions; and must be applicable to services providers supporting customers in all vertical segments, and in all geographies.