by Doug Tedder
Date Published January 4, 2019 - Last Updated December 17, 2019

Believe it or not, your company has always been doing IT Service Management (ITSM), from the moment it first used a computer. Whether formally defined or not, ITSM exists in some form in every organization that leverages technology in achieving business results. Don’t think so? Consider this:

  • What happens when the phone rings in IT? Someone answers it.
  • What if something breaks in the production environment? It gets fixed.
  • When business colleagues ask for something different in a live system or application? A change is made.
  • When business colleagues request new capabilities based on the use of technology? The request capability is planned, funded, designed, and implemented.
  • When a colleague needs advice or instruction?  Help is provided.

All that seems like ITSM to me. But good ITSM has to be more than just answering the phone or making a change. Is your approach to ITSM working like it should?

Good ITSM has to be more than just answering the phone or making a change.
Tweet: Good ITSM has to be more than just answering the phone or making a change. @dougtedder @ThinkHDI #ITSM #techsupport

The “Usual” Approach to ITSM…and Why It Doesn’t Work

If ITSM hasn’t delivered the expected value for your organization, it’s usually because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Many organizations implemented only the reactive aspects of ITSM—incident, problem, change, service desk, request—and nothing more. They utilized whatever out-of-the-box process definitions that came with the ITSM tool. But those processes didn’t match the current state of IT, much less meet the business need. Despite those challenges, those organizations did receive some benefit…but not the full benefit of a good ITSM implementation.
  • Some organizations implemented ITSM with a focus more on managing the technology and less on delivering services supporting business functions. Those organizations implemented ITSM processes from a control perspective, which resulted in practices that actually got in the way of the organization taking advantage of using technology.
  • Many organizations’ ITSM implementations were never elevated beyond the IT organization. ITSM was treated as an IT project, not a business initiative. Because core ITSM concepts were not implemented, like IT services defined in terms of business value and outcomes, artifacts like a service portfolio were never defined. As a result, business leaders do not have critical ITSM resources and information that could help them make informed decisions about technology investments. Nor do they have any data that helps them recognize the value provided by the IT organization.
  • Some organizations didn’t even elevate ITSM beyond IT operations. As a result, IT became a “house divided,” with each side of the house actually working against the other.

Is ITSM No Longer Important?

Despite these challenges, practicing good ITSM is more important now than ever. Why? 

  • Because your organization is now completely dependent on technology to perform business processes and functions. There is no part of any business that doesn’t have some dependency on the use of technology.
  • Because business and technology must work seamlessly. “Business-IT alignment” is not enough. It’s now about integration, not alignment.
  • Because organizations must take a holistic view of the use of technology to ensure the best return on investment and ensure that corporate governance and policies are enforced. In a world of data privacy concerns and security breaches where business interruptions due to technology issues are widely publicized, organizations must take a holistic approach to managing and leveraging technology.
  • Because IT is still “on the hook” for the effective and efficient use of technology and business value delivery, regardless of whether those technology resources are provided from on-premises or via the cloud.
  • Because investments in technology must deliver an optimal return on investment. The days of implementing technology for technology’s sake are long gone.
  • Because technology is always changing and evolving, organizations need a way to deal with change in a consistent, technology-agnostic manner.

But this doesn’t mean that “ITSM as usual” is the right approach going forward. In fact, the “usual approach” is usually why ITSM hasn’t delivered on its promise. And certainly, the “usual approach” to ITSM won’t be enough for the modern business.

5 Reasons Why ITSM (Still) Matters

Here are my top five reasons why ITSM still matters:

  1. Defining and utilizing well-defined ITSM practices provides a clear line of sight between individual contributions and business results.
  2. Good ITSM creates structure that allows IT team members to work with confidence by following standardized processes. By establishing and following standard processes, everyone is on the same page. You know you and your teammates are doing the right thing at the right time. And this consistency helps everyone be better at what they do.
  3. Good ITSM facilitates consumer self-service and self-help, freeing-up IT resources to work on innovation and new projects.
  4. Good ITSM provides the basis for automation of routine operational activities—many daily ITSM tasks deal with everyday activities and issues that can and should be automated. Automation of such tasks not only delivers reliability and consistency, it also enables IT to be more responsive to such tasks.
  5. Good ITSM helps IT identify and implement justifiable improvements that have measurable impact.

Make ITSM Matter to Your Organization

ITSM must be more that a collection of random practices and tools. Otherwise, ITSM won’t matter to your organization. Make ITSM matter by delivering results that matter to your business colleagues. Here are three suggestions:

  1. Develop and produce measures and reports that reflect business goals and objectives. Don’t just produce operational measures and reports (which are important for managing the technology environment), but also measure and report on the impact technology has on achieving the mission, vision, and goals of the organization. Publishing these measures and reports will illustrate IT’s critical contributions in achieving business goals.
  2. Define, implement, and drive ITSM practices that enable self-service/self-help. While a service desk will continue to be important, today’s IT consumer wants to be more self-sufficient. Make ITSM matter by helping IT consumers to be more self-sufficient. Establish automated fulfillment of service requests. Provide relevant and appropriate knowledge articles and other constructs that will help the consumer help herself. Not only will this make those that rely on IT services more self-sufficient, it also enhances the reputation of the IT organization.
  3. Lean out ITSM processes to make working with IT as frictionless as possible. Review current ITSM processes and eliminate any waste or needless delays in working with IT. Not only does this make IT easier to work with, it also helps IT be more responsive to business needs.
Doug will deliver a pre-conference workshop on Incident Management at HDI 2019.
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Doug Tedder is a strategic, innovative, and solutions-driven IT service management professional with more than 20 years of progressive experience across a variety of industries. He’s a resourceful and hands-on leader with track record of success implementing ITSM and IT governance processes. Doug is a certified ITIL Expert and ISO/IEC 20000 Consultant Manager and holds many other industry certifications. In addition, Doug is an accredited ITIL Foundation trainer and HDI Support Center Analyst and Support Center Manager instructor. Follow Doug on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Tag(s): supportworld, service management, business value, ITSM, IT service management


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