How to manage the “outside-in perspective” by focusing on internal competence areas


Ever since I started my career as a Service Management consultant about 25 years ago, I have always had a genuine belief in the ”outside-in perspective”, and I have used it, and lived with it all these years. What I´m referring to is the need to look at your business from the customer’s perspective and subsequently design processes, tools, and make decisions based on what is best for the customer and what meets the customer’s needs.

You might think that the benefits of an outside-in thinking, such as increased customer satisfaction or increased repeat purchases will require you to reduce your internal focus. I don´t agree.

Any medium-to-large organization are faced with the need for specialization. It might be in the form of specialized business units, where each business unit is responsible for a separate customer market area. It might also be one, or more, centralized functions acting as “Subject Matter Experts” to the whole organization.

The Project Management Office (PMO)

For example, the Project Management Office (PMO) is an example of such a specialized function. The PMO is a widely spread and adopted concept, providing maintained standards for Project Management within an organization.

Even though there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to PMO implementation, an effective PMO is always strongly aligned with the organizational strategy of the company. The PMO provides organization-wide governance of Project Management as well as supporting the whole organization with effective and efficient tools and methods to deliver projects on time, quality and on budget.

However, there are a few other competence areas – or specialized functions – that I would like to propose as being equally important as the PMO, when talking about internal effectiveness and efficiency:

  • The Service Management Office (SMO), and
  • The Change Management Office (CMO)

The Service Management Office (SMO)

Similarly to the PMO, the Service Management Office (SMO) is a central organizational unit that drives competence-, training- and delivery-related activities within the Service Management area. (To be honest, the SMO´s I have seen have been focused on IT Service Management. The concept, however, applies to Service Management in general as well).

Like the PMO, the Service Management Office can provide support on various levels, mostly depending on the Service Management maturity of the organization:

  • Ownership of Service Catalogs and Service Level Agreements (SLA)
  • Centrally positioned Process Managers
  • Ownership of the ITSM-toolset, including the Service Desk
  • Central governance and management of the organization´s Service Management delivery
  • Service Integration & Management, (SIAM, Multisourcing Management)
  • Training, communication and follow-up

The fundamentals of what the SMO provides to the organization includes:

  • Centralized abilities and resources, such as Process Managers and the Service Desk
  • Subject Matter Experts for ITSM training, coaching and ITSM tool-set ownership and – development
  • Service Management delivery capabilities, including SLA monitoring and reporting, Quality Assurance and Risk & Compliance

The Change Management Office (CMO)

In recent years, the global business community have started to realize that running technical projects efficiently is not enough. The people in the organization that are supposed to use these new technical solutions must be made aware, motivated, trained and properly prepared for the upcoming change. This is often referred to as “People Change Management”.

The Change Management Office (CMO) will, as a specialized unit, provide not only organization-wide governance regarding ”people change”, but they will also provide professionally trained Change Managers that will act as Change Leads, working in tight collaboration with the (often technical) Project Manager from the PMO.

There are a few “people change models” available, and the Prosci ADKAR model is one of the most reckognized models. It is basically a goal-oriented model that supports the individuals affected by the need to change.

The acronym”ADKAR” represents the required outcomes an individual must achieve in order to be successful with change:

  • Awareness – accepting the need for change
  • Desire – wanting to change
  • Knowledge – to know how to perform in the new, desired state
  • Ability – the ability to perform (adequate time, tool support, training)
  • Reinforcement – promoting and encouraging the new way-of-working, preventing rollback to previous state

In this context, Change Management is:

  • A structured approach to provide guidance and training to individuals, groups and organizations enabling them to transition from a “current state” to a “desired future state”
  • Focusing on establishing positive behavioral changes to enable people to want/desire the necessary changes

If Project Management is focused on providing the technical change solution, Change Management focuses on the people affected by the change. Change Management is therefore complementing Project Management by focusing on different aspects of an upcoming change.

In summary

If you want to be able to provide good customer service and to compete in the marketplace, the “outside-in perspective” is essential. However, it does not exclude the need for internal focus.

In this article, I have briefly touched on three competence areas/ specialized units that complement each other when trying to develop the required internal competencies that underpins and supports the “outside-in perspective”.

The three ”offices” mentioned (Project Management Office, Service Management Office and Change Management Office) all contributes to a common organizational goal: ”an effective and efficient organization that is able to provide high-quality, customer-focused services, deliver just-in-time projects, and are able to quickly change if and when required”.

Do you want to know more?

Do you want to know more about these issues? Do you want to know how we at Adaptit can support you? Please contact us.