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The Role Of The Service Transition Manager

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Getting Qualified As A Service Transition Manager

If you are looking for a formal qualification as a Service Transition Manager but have yet to take a foundation level course then you really need to start with the ITIL Foundation.

You can check out our ITIL® 4 Foundation certification training here.

After that you than then proceed to the ITIL Service Transition qualification. The 3-day ITIL® Intermediate Lifecycle course Service Transition which is aimed at those managers seeking to implement the Service Transition Lifecycle stage and the seven transition processes.

Or you could consider the 5-day ITIL® Intermediate Capability course Release, Control and Validation which is more focused at a hands-on practitioner level operating at a process level.

The ITIL® Practitioner course is also a good course for the budding Transition Manager to pick up appropriate transition knowledge especially around organisational change management.

If you currently hold the position of Transition Manager or it’s a role that you aspire to, then here are some insights into the world of Service Transition and some useful tips to ensure you get it right.

For those of you that don’t enjoy reading, or prefer a mind-map approach, we have created a Service Transition Manager Wall Chart, which you can use in conjunction with the article.


Having worked with many organisations over more years than I care to remember, it has become apparent that many still do not see the benefit of real ‘Service Transition’ and instead pay ‘lip service’ to it.

Many still rely on a combination of Project Management activities and the oversight of ‘Change Management’ to fill in the gaps and keep some of the stakeholders informed of progress, or lack of as the case may be...

Firstly it’s worth saying that no two organisations are the same and hence no two Transition Manager roles will be the same. Having said that there are a number of generic principles you should follow…but not blindly, so as with most of my advice, adopt and adapt as appropriate.

What Is Service Transition?

In pure ITIL® terms, Service Transition is being able to move services into the live business environment as smoothly as possible. This vital step in the service lifecycle lies between ‘Design’ and ‘Operations’ and ensures that policies, processes and procedures are in place to protect the live operational environment.

Although to provide a bit more detail, it’s to ensure that any modifications or transitions to the live operational environment – affecting either new, modified, retiring or retired services – meet the agreed expectations of the business, customers and users.

This means that all modifications to operational environments should be managed, planned and coordinated through service transition processes and activities, to facilitate a smooth transition to live operation.

This will also ensure that a new, modified, retiring or retired service fulfils its operational expectation and has no, or at the very worse, minimal adverse impact on customers, users and the business.

If done effectively this will ensure that only tested and planned services are enabled for the business. This should be delivered in accordance with an agreed and communicated business timescale, and with adequate fall-back (or at the minimum, a rollback) provision.

Now this all could be built into the project deliverables and probably should be to some extent, but would it be done consistently and reliably? In my opinion most organisations need at least the oversight of a Transition Manager to ensure things run smoothly into the live environment.

The key objectives of service transition are to:
  • Plan and manage service changes efficiently and effectively
  • Manage risks relating to new, changed or retired services
  • Successfully deploy service releases into supported environments
  • Set correct expectations on the performance and use of new or changed services
  • Ensure that service changes create the expected business value
  • Provide good-quality knowledge and information about services and service assets.
In order to achieve these objectives, there are many things that need to happen during the service transition lifecycle stage. These include:
  • Planning and managing the capacity and resources required to manage service transitions
  • Implementing a rigorous framework for evaluating service capabilities and risk profiles before new or changed services are deployed
  • Establishing and maintaining the integrity of service assets
  • Providing efficient repeatable mechanisms for building, testing and deploying services and releases
  • Ensuring that services can be managed, operated and supported in accordance with constraints specified during the service design stage of the service lifecycle.

Some activities of all service transition processes may be carried out during the service design stage of the service lifecycle – for example, design of a release package or planning of a service transition.

The scope of Service Transition includes:
  • Managing the complexity associated with changes to services and service management processes
  • Allowing for innovation while minimizing the unintended consequences of change
  • Introducing new services
  • Changes to existing services, e.g. expansion, reduction, change of supplier, acquisition or disposal of sections of user base or suppliers, change of requirements or skills availability
  • Decommissioning and discontinuation of services, applications or other service components
  • Transferring services to and from other service providers.
Guidance on transferring the control of services includes transfer in the following circumstances:
  • Out to a new supplier, e.g. outsourcing
  • From one supplier to another
  • Back in from a supplier, e.g. insourcing
  • Moving to a partnership or co-sourcing arrangement (e.g. partial outsourcing of some processes)
  • Multiple suppliers, e.g. co-sourcing or multi-sourcing
  • Joint venture
  • Down-sizing, up-sizing (right-sizing) and off-shoring
  • Merger and acquisition

If only life was so simple (Ha)… In reality, circumstances generate a combination of several of the above options at any one time and in any one situation.

And if that was not enough, the scope also includes:

  • The transition of changes in the service provider’s service management capabilities that will impact on the ways of working being:
    • The organization
    • People
    • Projects
    • Third parties involved in service management

So Assuming You Have Bought Into The Concept Of A Service Transition Manager, What Are They Going To Do?

Firstly they will need to define, document and agree the scope (as outlined above) and policies for overall service transition, ensuring that they are clearly documented and effectively communicated to all stakeholders. Otherwise, it could lead to scope creep or avoidance from those who don’t see the benefits.

Selling the benefits to ‘one and all’ at this stage is also essential for continued engagement.

Successful Service Transition does not happen until an organization recognizes the need for it and the benefits it will bring. Effective service transition is necessary because business operations and processes are in a constant state of transition.

A quote comes to mind… 'Change is the only constant in life' ~ Heraclitus

The quest for competitive advantage, best-of-breed innovation, agility and self-preservation are external catalysts for changes that must ultimately be delivered.

So to ensure successful change takes place it’s also essential to ensure that the Service Transition policies, process and procedures are integrated with existing policies, processes and procedures within and across the organisation as a whole, not just IT.

Therefore the role of the Transition Manager involves overseeing the overall design and on-going maintenance of all service transition processes to ensure that they will work together with tightly integrated interfaces to meet the overall transition needs of the business.

(You might also be interested in this blog post we wrote about what makes a good service delivery manager?)

Okay So Which Processes Are We Talking About?

Service Transition according to ITIL® ‘Best Practice’ comprises of seven processes

This first group are processes are critical during the service transition stage and also influence and support all stages of the service lifecycle, i.e. they run across the Service Lifecycle (Strategy, Design, Transition, Operation and CSI). These comprise of:

  • Change management
  • Service asset and configuration management
  • Knowledge management

This second group of processes mainly lie within the service transition stage, but are equally important to establish:

  • Transition planning and support
  • Release and deployment management
  • Service validation & testing
  • Change evaluation.

Lets Look At Some Of The Key Responsibilities Of An IT Service Transition Manager…

Which include…

Communicating with stakeholders

One of the most important responsibilities a Transition Manager has is communication with all of the stakeholder to ensure a smooth transition with ‘No Surprises’… Depending on the size of your organisation and the amount of change taking place at any one time will govern the amount of communicate that is likely to be required.

A good start is to define a communication plan to act as a guide and also a checklist.

Maintaining records and providing management information on resource use, project/service transition progress, budgeted and actual spend

It is paramount to record all aspects of a transition from an overarching combined transition plan down to individual transition plans and then down to Release plans.

As with all reporting it is only when you know what you want out of it, in terms of information, that you will understand what data you need to collect. If starting from scratch, start simple and work your way down remembering that some data like change records may already be logged, so don’t reinvent the wheel.

Managing and coordinating the functions that are involved in service transition?

This could include Project Managers, the Project Management Office (PMO), internal support and delivery teams and third part suppliers. As a Transition Manager you will be coordinating at a strategic and tactical level. For example between Project Management and the process managers, rather than at a detailed operational level between the Change Manager and Change Implementers.

Budgeting and accounting for service transition activities and resources

In larger organisations you may well have budgetary responsibility for managing the overall Service Transition function and Service Transition process areas.

Acting as the prime interface for senior management for service transition planning and reporting

Service Transition Manager is a senior role within most organisation and as such you will be reporting to senior IT management

Managing and coordinating requests for resources

Now we aren’t talking about all requests for resources across IT, just those resources involved in Service Transition activities and the provision of Early Life Support (ELS), so there will at times, be an overlap into Service Design and Service Operation.

Those resources may include people, test environments, hardware and software licences.

Coordinating service transition activities across projects, suppliers and service teams (working with project managers and other personnel as required)

This is where an effective PMO comes in handy to help coordinate activities across all functional areas. Ideally the PMO can manage both the Design Co-ordination process and the Transition Planning & Support process.

Ensuring that the final delivery of each service transition meets the agreed customer and stakeholder requirements specified in the service design package.

Acceptance testing by the user and operations, the hand-over into service operation and the provision of early life support and project closure are the final steps of the Service Transition lifecycle stage and it’s the responsibility of the Transition Manager to ensure that what the customer signed up to is what the customer gets.

Maintaining and integrating plans for specific service transitions

All I’ll say here is that 'Failing to plan is planning to fail' ~ Benjamin Franklin

Maintaining and monitoring progress for service transition changes, issues, risks and deviations; including tracking progress on actions and mitigation of risks

Service Transition manages the service transition from designed specifications, dealing with change, configuration, test, release and deployment and every step in between.

Effective service transition ensures that meeting business need, cost and efficiency are achieved with minimal risk, maximum optimization and the highest degree of confidence possible. And throughout, the Transition Manager has a key role in ensuring successful change.

(You might like to read this post looking at SACM and ITIL).

Enough Of Responsibilities. Now Let’s Look At Some Of The Key Concepts of ITIL Service Transition Management

The Service Design Package (SDP)

As I’ve said previously, service transition takes the outputs from service design, the preceding stage of the lifecycle, and uses them to ensure that service solutions are smoothly migrated to live operation, fulfilling agreed customer and business requirements.

The trigger for this transition activity is the production of a service design package produced by the processes and activities of service design. Service transition takes this new business requirement contained within the service design package as the main input to the Service Transition phase of the Service Lifecycle.

Using the five aspects of design, the Service Transition lifecycle phase then creates services and their supporting practices that meet business demands for functionality, security, performance, reliability and flexibility.

The service design package facilitates the build, test, and release and deployment activities of service transition, and the operation, support and improvement activities within the service operation and continual service improvement stages of the service lifecycle.

Project Management

Large-scale IT change is often driven through project or programme initiatives. These are mistakenly seen to be outside ‘change management’, and too often are not considered to be a service management concern until it is time to implement them, when they are ‘thrown over the wall’.

Bitter experience teaches us that this approach rarely yields the best possible benefit to the business. IT service management (ITSM) working alongside Project Management delivers change through transition lifecycle steps, which helps organisations manage change in a much broader context. In some organisations a Transition Manager may actually shadow the Project Manager.

Knowledge Management

Although Knowledge Management is seen as a process within Service Transition it is also an organisation-wide function. Service Transition introduces the service knowledge management system, which can support organizational learning and help to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of all stages of the service lifecycle.

This will enable people to benefit from the knowledge and experience of others, support informed decision-making, and improve the management of services.

Service transition is therefore the effective manager of knowledge, organizational culture and transition in difficult or unusual circumstances. Every IT professional knows that the major part of any change – that can make or break its success – is related to the human factor, especially cultural aversion to change. Knowledge management is therefore an essential part of Organisational Change Management (OCM).

Service Transition Policies

The following are examples of policies for service transition. Don’t use them verbatim, define your own which are applicable to your organisation and are appropriate for your particular circumstances. Endorsement and visible support from senior management contribute to the overall effectiveness.

A number of example policy statements are listed below but it is suggested that a specific application and approach are illustrated by the application of specific principles and best practices that help an organization to deliver that principle.

In simple terms “This is what should be done”, “This is why” and “Here are some examples”

Examples of these policies include:

Define and implement a formal policy for service transition

Implement all changes to services through service transition

  • Adopt a common framework and standards
  • Maximize re-use of established processes and systems
  • Align service transition plans with the business needs
  • Establish and maintain relationships with stakeholders
  • Establish effective controls and disciplines
  • Provide systems for knowledge transfer and decision support
  • Plan release packages
  • Anticipate and manage course corrections
  • Proactively manage resources across service transitions
  • Ensure early involvement in the service lifecycle
  • Provide assurance of the quality of the new or changed service
  • Proactively improve quality during service transition.
Business Benefits

Selecting and adopting the best practice as recommended in this publication, will assist organizations in delivering significant benefits. It will help readers to set up service transition and the processes that support it, and to make effective use of those processes to facilitate the effective transitioning of new, changed or decommissioned services.

Adopting and implementing standard and consistent approaches for service transition will:

  • Enable projects to estimate the cost, timing, resource requirement and risks associated with the service transition stage more accurately
  • Result in higher volumes of successful change
  • Be easier for people to adopt and follow
  • Enable service transition assets to be shared and re-used across projects and services
  • Reduce delays from unexpected clashes and dependencies – for example, if multiple projects need to use the same test environment at the same time
  • Reduce the effort spent on managing the service transition test and pilot environments
  • Improve expectation setting for all stakeholders involved in service transition including customers, users, suppliers, partners and projects
  • Increase confidence that the new or changed service can be delivered to specification without unexpectedly affecting other services or stakeholders
  • Ensure that new or changed services will be maintainable and cost-effective
  • Improve control of service assets and configurations.

How to Get Qualified As An ITIL Service Transition Manager

If you are looking for a formal qualification as a Service Transition Manager then consider…

The 3-day ITIL® Intermediate Lifecycle course Service Transition which is aimed at those managers seeking to implement the Service Transition Lifecycle stage and the seven transition processes, or the 5-day ITIL® Intermediate Capability course Release, Control and Validation which is more focused at a hands-on practitioner level operating at a process level.

The ITIL® Practitioner course is also a good course for the budding Transition Manager to pick up appropriate transition knowledge especially around organisational change management.

Don’t forget to download the Service Transition Manager Wall Chart!

AXELOS Copyright. Please note that the advice and guidance above is based on AXELOS Best Practice guidance for ITIL®. All righs reserved. Based on AXELOS ITIL® material - Reproduced under licence from AXELOS.

About The Author

Steve Lawless

Steve Lawless

I've worked in IT for over forty years and spent the last twenty in training and consultancy roles. Since starting Purple Griffon in 2002 I've taught over three thousand individuals in a variety of subjects. I hold qualifications in all four versions of ITIL®, ITAM, UX, BRM, SLM, SIAM, VeriSM, and AI, and co-authored the BCS AI Foundation book. Outside of work, I enjoy skiing (or rather falling over at high speed), reading, science and technology, and spending time with my loved ones.

Tel: +44 (0)1539 736 828

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