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School of Business | Department of Information and Service Economy | MSc program in Information and Service Management | 2015
Thesis number: 14238
A Framework for positioning service delivery customers
Author: Uskonen, Jukka
Title: A Framework for positioning service delivery customers
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Information and Service Economy
Academic subject: MSc program in Information and Service Management
Index terms: tietotalous; knowledge economy; palvelut; service; operaatiotutkimus; operational research; strategia; strategy; ohjelmistot; software
Pages: 65
Key terms: Service operations; Operations strategy; Operations management; Positioning framework; Software business; SaaS
The alignment of service delivery operations with customer characteristics and requested service concept is important especially for companies pursuing for scaling up their operations efficiently. Several managerial classification matrices have been developed for manufacturing and service context to explain and obtain a strategic match between production process design and output variety. Yet, a similar managerial construct taking into account the customer perspective inherent in service provisioning is lacking, especially in software business.

The thesis study reports development and testing of a framework for analyzing and positioning service delivery customers. The case study is conducted at a Finnish software company providing software-as-a-service solutions for supply chain management.

The study identifies three generic customer and solution types, based on the evaluation of i) user team readiness and ii) maturity of the governance structures at the customer, as well as iii) clarity and certainty of the solution requirements, and iv) customer specificity of the solution and complexity of the solution scope, respectively. Furthermore, a recommended efficient service delivery type for each generic customer-solution combination is suggested. Positions of potential misalignment between customer and solution types yield additional costs of coordination, or present a risk of customer dissatisfaction.

The applicability of the framework has been tested using cased-based reasoning. Past service deliveries of the case company are evaluated by managers and mapped on the framework. The initial findings suggest that coping with the potential misalignments requires emphasis on different aspects of service delivery: change management skills to guide and train the customer organization in the midst of the delivery, or strong domain knowledge and implementation capability to develop the requested solutions in order to satisfy demanding customer users. Although resource intensive, the emergence of the both presented misalignments in service delivery can be justified, for instance when entering new markets or developing new solution functionalities.

Despite the limited generalizability of a case study, the developed customer classification framework complements the existing body of knowledge of strategic positioning matrices. From the practical point of view, the thesis presents a managerial tool to analyze the alignment of service delivery operations with respect to customers and offered solutions - providing insight on performance of service deliveries retrospectively, but also proactively supporting strategic decision-making at service companies targeting new markets and customers.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.