Strategy is more relevant than ever as a competence in service management.
It’s a leadership skill and everyone working in operations, project management or in senior management needs to have some level of leadership skill; leading ourselves, leading teams and working cross-functionally.
It’s more important than ever because if there’s no strategic understanding and alignment, people will miss goals, become overly stressed and fail to manage tasks, resulting in costs or missed opportunities for the business.
This is backed by a recent university research project in Sweden which reveals that organizations’ top requirements include leadership and organizational change management (OCM), among the other softer, human-oriented skills they lack today. Strategic co-operation between IT and the business is critical and there must be good service management relationships to be truly strategic.
Strong and effective direction with ITIL® 4 Direct, Plan and Improve
In this context, ITIL 4 Direct, Plan and Improve (DPI) provides a defined strategic approach for continual improvement.
For many organizations making this happen is easier said than done, with many barriers to both continual improvement and strategic thinking. However, this can be simplified through the use of governance. Though some may see governance as a management tool for monitoring and making people do the right things, establishing healthy governance can instead be an operational enabler to help direction, plans and empower strategic capabilities.
Indeed, the ITIL 4 Service Value System (SVS) provides organizations with great components for visualizing a strategic operational model. When talking to customers about strategic alignment issues and showing them the model, they realize how few of the components their organization actually have in place currently.
A person in one company, talking about the ITIL 4 SVS, said: “Finally, someone has managed to visualize this puzzle”. It’s logical and a relief for companies to see how these concepts fall into place.
Embedding strong service relationships
Among the important elements in ITIL 4 DPI and other ITIL 4 modules for aligning operations with strategy are cultural management and OCM. Developing a service culture and strong service relationships through communication and collaboration is vital to prevent people choosing their own path, which can divert from the overall strategy and hinder improvement.
Part of building a new culture is delegating more responsibility and accountability to people, enabling them to be more effective without seeking permission for every decision.
A business case for the long term
ITIL 4 DPI also helps with the concept of the business case. Though often related to project management, the business case must define the long-term value, costs and implications of running a service over time.
Service value is co-created and cannot be considered “delivered” after a project and value must be jointly monitored and optimized between IT and the business. Knowing how to develop a business case to cover operational elements is key or you can lose the value and co-creation perspective and investments becomes short rather than long term.
Critically, as ITIL 4 talks about value co-creation, the business case needs to reflect business needs rather than just an IT business case.
ITIL 4 DPI – the endgame
What should organizations expect when following the ITIL 4 DPI approach?
First, they can expect resistance, which is where OCM comes in. Then, by adopting the ITIL concepts, they can expect to create a more sustainable and robust enterprise; one that can manage change now and in the future and minimize service debt.
This requires clear leadership and strategy from the top and throughout all operational areas. And we need to be consistent to gain the rewards of improvements.
Therefore, the bundling of ideas in ITIL 4 offers an attractive recipe for success; helping organizations manage the challenge of change and the convergence of IT and business strategy.
Read more AXELOS Blog Posts by Leif Andersson
ITIL Intermediate v3: Service Design – enabling value creation
Kanban: making progress and delivering value in ITSM
ITSM simulation: changing culture, making significant improvements
ITSM into 2018: framework maturity and business alignment
ITIL and DevOps – better together