Enterprise Service Management: The Top 5 Things You're Not Doing


Too often, organizations oversimplify and understrategize the move to enterprise service management. Here are five things you should do before tackling ESM.

by Roy Atkinson
August 23, 2017

Enterprise service management (ESM) has become far more widespread over the last three years, with the promise of reducing tool redundancy, tapping common databases, and making processes more uniform, efficient, and lean. In fact, HDI research conducted earlier this year found that 56% of organizations are using their service management tool outside of IT, and the percentage is higher—over 65%—in organizations that self-rank as high in process maturity.

Too often, however, organizations oversimplify and understrategize the move to ESM, which yields less than desirable results, and could even lead to a failure of the effort. Moving to ESM is a portion of the much-spoken-about digital transformation; it brings digital tools and automated processes to areas of your business that have not had them before, or that have bought or built specialized tools that only work inside that business unit, not taking advantage of economies of scale or tapping into existing data.

Let’s look at some of the things you should be doing before tackling ESM, but might not be.

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1. Assessing Your Need for Cultural Change

Does your organization have an embedded feudal culture, with fiefdoms (silos of independent power) everywhere? Before you start your ESM initiative, you’ll want to have an effective plan in place to address those power pockets. Because you will be affecting the way things are done across multiple aspects of your business, you will need engagement and support from the very top. In fact, that’s where the impetus to move to ESM should start—at the top. While IT can offer up its expertise, tools, and process knowledge, it should not be the sole driving force. 

This is bigger than tacking on an organizational change management component. The changes have to be carefully considered, and made at every level of the organization, and from the beginning. 

2. Making Sure It’s Not About You

ESM is not about how smart IT is, and should definitely not be about IT telling other units of the business how to do their jobs. It should be about enabling other parts of your business to do things in better ways, with better data and better tools than they currently have. This is not to say that your service management tool has to do every single thing better, but that overall, it improves the way the business unit contributes to the way your organization operates.

3. Getting Your Own House in Order

It’s going to be a very difficult slog to convince other business units to move to a different way of offering and managing services if they have a low opinion of IT in general, and especially of the ability of IT to deliver what the organization needs when the organization needs it. Your reputation counts, and you need to know what that reputation really is before approaching business units and soliciting their confidence and support.

4. Learning Other Languages

By this, we mean understanding that other business units have vocabularies of their own, and many of the terms used in IT mean something very different. As a simple example, ask your HR contact what an incident is. It means something very different to HR from what it means to IT. Asking HR—or any other business unit—to “just forget” what they call something and use IT terminology instead is like asking IT to start referring to computers as ice cream cones.

5. Ensuring that Your Tool Can Do ESM Properly

Early in your ESM strategy, you need to assess the capabilities of both your tool and your team to provide the requisite service management to the areas of your business that are getting aboard the ESM train. The tool needs to be flexible and easily customizable so that the terms displayed to the customers and users in each business area make sense to them. (See Number 4.) 

Of course your team must not only have the expertise and knowledge to be able to expand service management, but also to perform needed changes in the tool. This should not mean a lot of customization and reconfiguration; in fact, if a lot of customization and/or reconfiguration is required, you may need to reconsider its use for ESM. It simply means that your team should not have to hire an outside consultant in order to put the appropriate terminology and user interface in place for each business unit adopting your ESM approach.

Watch for forthcoming articles expanding on each of these five areas that require attention as you move toward enterprise service management.


Roy AtkinsonRoy Atkinson is HDI's senior writer/analyst, acting as in-house subject matter expert and chief writer for SupportWorld articles and white papers. In addition to being a member of the HDI International Certification Standards Committee and the HDI Desktop Support Advisory Board, Roy is a popular speaker at HDI conferences and is well known to HDI local chapter audiences. His background is in both service desk and desktop support as well as small-business consulting. Roy is highly rated on social media, especially on the topics of IT service management and customer service. He is a cohost of the very popular #custserv (customer service) chat on Twitter, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on December 9, 2014. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @HDI_Analyst and @RoyAtkinson.


Tag(s): supportworld, service management, business of support, business value

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