The aim of IT Service Management (ITSM) good practice should be simple. Providing services and products that meet customer needs and enable strategic business goals to be achieved. So why have so many companies got ITSM wrong? This paper explores the expectations of businesses and customers in today’s world, the shortcomings of taking a purely operational approach to ITSM, along with helping CIOs and senior IT Service Executives to ensure that ITSM does what it needs to do.
The ICMI (International Customer Management Institute) and a series of other bodies outline a set of key expectations customers now have of a service and what Service Delivery/ITSM strategies and approaches should now be based around -
In today’s world, your users and customers want a mix of self-service and human assistance that works intuitively together. Services must make sense and be easy to consume.
Understand my needs.
Customers expect their requirements to be fully understood, and for you to have knowledge of what they need technology for and what they need it to do.
Anticipate what I may need in the future.
It is now firmly the job of you and your teams to predict the challenges that your users and customers may face, what can help them to be successful, and provide enhanced services and products that will help them be productive.
Trained and informed IT employees.
Your customer expects that the people they speak to will understand them, communicate clearly with them, and provide a solution to their problem, no matter who they speak to.
Please tell me what to expect.
Your users and customers do not want miracles, but many are tired of receiving things that they do not know what to do with or did not expect. This means that service and product expectations and standards need to be agreed and clearly communicated.
Meet commitments and keep promises.
If you commit to something, you must deliver. Following on from the points above, this is the baseline that IT departments are now measured against. There can be no ambiguity, oversights, or misalignment of expectations with key parties and stakeholders.
Do it right first time.
Customers ask that they receive the services and products that they are expecting, in full and at the first time of asking. Anything less can cause reputational damage and a lack of confidence.
Why have approaches to ITSM failed to deliver value?
Instead of making ITSM a strategic enabler of success, many companies have embedded processes and practices at an operational level, and as a tactical tool to manage workloads and `protect live services`. Due to the absence of a common vision and goals to guide the right outcomes, many companies have ended up with similar problems –
- Changes and new products going live without the knowledge of the `Service Management` teams as common processes and quality standards are not established.
- 80% of incidents being caused by poorly planned design, change and transition.
- Processes that would look good in a best practice book but serve no purpose other than to try and control a chaotic environment.
- Misalignment between IT activities, customer, and business goals, leading to an absence of value and decreasing customer confidence.
As the focus of many ITSM projects has been operational, tactical, and `bottom up`, with reaching a certain CMMI level being the sole measure of success, the perceived value of ITSM is low in many companies. The strategic and customer facing elements are the two key missing factors that make ITSM valuable.
Back to basics
CIOs and IT Service Executives have an ideal opportunity to `re-boot` their approach to ITSM and make it effective by following the steps below. These are steps we have taken with many of our clients to help them gain business value and ROI through ITSM.
The first and most important thing is to re-position ITSM in terms of its importance and value. ITSM is running IT like a customer orientated and ever improving business, with clear standards and goals set around the following –
- Productivity – utilising ITSM to increase the productivity of your teams and the value they provide to the end customer, as part of an integrated service model.
- Quality – utilising ITSM to continually increase the quality of customer engagement and understanding of customer needs, with the goal of delivering services and products that are valued.
- Complexity – removing duplication and complexities, so that services and products are easy to consume for the customer, and everybody in your IT department knows the importance of their role in the end-to-end value chain.
A common misconception is that creating quality standards will result in rigid, bureaucratic processes and cumbersome levels of governance. Developing a strategy and vision, and subsequent quality standards with the right processes and tools to support this will in fact remove un-necessary work, decrease the escalation of issues, and greatly reduce the number of repeat incidents. By embedding quality standards, you will optimise your resources, free people up, and be able to focus on services and products that are easy to consume.
What we have discussed so far is a major shift away from creating basic Incident, Problem and Change processes and offering a self-service portal, to basing ITSM approaches around fulfilling business and customer needs. The divide that exists between an IT department and its customers needs to be removed or companies will be left behind.
So, what are the key takeaways?
- A strategy is a strategy
Many CIOs and IT Service Leaders have based their ITSM approach and goals on introducing technologies and delivering more projects, rather than delivering services and products that bring business enhancements. This, as discussed, has meant that there is no clear measurement of value and ROI, and customers do not receive services, service levels and products that will benefit them. To turn this around, leaders must base their ITSM strategy and goals on clear business enhancing objectives and delivering services and products that will enable this.
- Creating the required capabilities
ITSM, as discussed, has been viewed as an operational activity centred around a select number of processes and functions, and not as a strategic, business enabling capability. This means that only a limited number of processes are developed and restricted to specific areas and teams, with little in the way of integration across all key functional areas. Leaders now have the chance to take a practical and pragmatic view, and create effective, `just enough` processes across key areas of the Service Delivery lifecycle that will enable a clearly defined ITSM strategy to be delivered.
- You need the right people
Yes, we are talking about the world of IT, but to make ITSM an enabler of success, you need people with a broad range of business and stakeholder management skills. If you are going to create capabilities and service offerings that meet customer and business expectations, you need people on board with the appropriate background and skill set.
- Only measure and discuss what matters
The number of incidents resolved in a period, and the mean time to repair are effective metrics for your IT teams to measure themselves against, but your customers will not gain any value from knowing about these without any context. Effective reporting and continual service improvement in today’s world involves reporting service performance against KPIs that matter to your customer, and how effectively your Service Delivery and products are meeting these.
We have been in business for 24 years, understand the challenges that companies now face in re-invigorating and developing ITSM capabilities, and can help you get to where you need to be in a timely manner.
If you would like to discuss how iCore can help you then contact us on +44 (0) 203 821 1252 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org