Combining different IT and ITSM frameworks for business benefit
How do organizations that begin with basic IT service management (ITSM) processes progress their approach to become more service-centric?
I often observe companies – in spite of today’s focus on digital transformation – continuing to talk about incident management and the service desk even when their aim is to mature quite complex processes. This tells me there is still a lot of work for organizations to do with basic ITSM.
Unfortunately, I’m aware that – in some cases – “implementing” yet another ITSM process is treated as a badge of achievement among ITSM professionals; as if simply having more processes will make the organization better than its competition. If only life and ITSM were as easy as that, but they’re not.
Actually, when you are able to do a better job with basic incident management the potential to be more effective is much greater than just selecting more processes to implement.
When ITSM is a number one priority
I’ve spent time working with large companies in Europe and Russia and most of them have their own IT subsidiary company. For these IT companies, it’s their core business and responsibility to provide IT services to the parent company which, of course, implies having mature IT processes.
They are well aware of the importance of ITSM – in fact it’s their number one priority, especially when their work involves bringing together IT that, previously, was spread across numerous business units.
At the same time, ITSM has become more and more commoditized – no longer treated like a “rocket science” – in which people think they now understand how it works. In reality, too many organizations have insufficient knowledge or data to know whether it’s really working or not.
In many companies there is still a lack of a conceptual or architectural view in the business process environment. By that, I mean there is no single, architecture representative mapping the process/enterprise architecture to attain the consistency of processes that the organization needs.
As a result, the success of ITSM in the organization will depend on the capability, knowledge and professionalism of the external consulting company or similarly-capable staff they choose to hire. Once again, the risk is deciding that having more processes is the answer. The quantity of processes is really not the answer and trying to absorb such a high level of change can be too much for any organization.
A feast of IT frameworks
In the context of organizations trying to deliver value and effectiveness from IT service management, the array of frameworks and how they fit together has become more complex in recent years.
For example, IT4IT brings an interesting and positive development: offering excellent synergy with ITIL® while focusing more on architecture and data models in systems for IT management rather than processes. So, rather than taking a conceptual approach, IT4IT takes concepts and applies them to real-life situations that are already aligned with ITIL processes.
In the case of DevOps companies need to recognize that this introduces change more based on culture than a literal framework: its overall intention is to bring the development and operations teams together and to break down the walls that have previously existed between them. ITIL, I believe, is very much “in tune” with DevOps though the way it works is more “under the hood”.
Indeed, ITIL 4 – the latest evolution of the best practice guidance – will reflect other frameworks and integrate newer ways of working such as DevOps and Agile.
ITIL 4’s guiding principles, drawn from proven ways of delivering quality IT service, foster a customer-centric culture of collaboration, holistic working and obtaining continual feedback. This offers flexibility for organizations to adopt and adapt what approaches they consider most relevant.
Taking the right elements of each approach won’t happen overnight, but organizations will eventually understand they cannot implement everything at once; it’s about adopting pieces of a particular framework, transitioning it to business as usual and then ensuring continuous improvement.
Above all, enterprises need to concentrate on their business goals and prioritize ITSM activities so they become aligned with the business, creating an integrated model for digital service management.
It’s about helping the business
What I’d like to see more in organizations is a greater understanding that the ultimate goal is not to be fixated on IT but to think about the purpose of IT in helping the business achieve its objectives.
This shift in thinking needs to come from two directions: first, the IT organization needs to stop thinking about itself and start talking to the business about what it needs to succeed.
Second, business leadership needs to think about implementing new frameworks and methods as a way of increasing revenue and profits rather than a way of decreasing the IT budget.
In tandem, there needs to be greater recognition of the relationship between the work of development and operations. Up to now, those working in development and responsible for building and delivering products have looked at ITIL and said: “it’s about services – that’s not relevant to me.”
This has never been true, but ITIL 4 is a critical step in bringing these two worlds in organizations closer together and to help them see there is a clear relationship between building a product and delivering a service.
For further information about ITIL 4, visit our ITIL Update page.
Read more posts in this series
SLAs of the future: measuring outcomes, not IT availability
Business value from IT goods and services in a digital world
The ITIL update in a world of digital and service transformation
Best practice in IT, ITSM and the ITIL update