Service Management beyond IT - a world of opportunity

Service Management beyond IT - a world of opportunity

Patrick BolgerIT Service Management (ITSM) practitioners often forget that service management was not something they invented but rather a concept taken and adapted to create their own view of the world. They borrowed the principles of good customer service used by businesses, put “IT” in front of it and then defined some functions of the role that service management requires – and did it well!

Having successfully adopted service management principles, IT groups often recognize the potential to apply them elsewhere within the organization; if the team is satisfied with their ITSM solution and they has the capabilities to support it, then frequently they recommend extending the use of the software to other parts of the business. Our IT customers are regularly consulted by Facilities and HR teams that need software to manage their incidents and requests.

The downside to this is that the rigid forms and rules IT has defined within the software may not suit the operational needs of other business units. IT, HR and Facilities are typically serving the same internal customers, so not only can they share the same customer data, they can also pass requests between business units and provide seamless service and visibility through a single customer portal.  For example, the on-boarding of a new employee can be kicked off by HR, Facilities can provide desk space, and IT can ensure that the required technology is available, prior to the employee’s start date.

Although there are many positives to this approach, careful considerations must be given to other factors, such as data security; HR, for example, will have sensitive information that must be particularly secure.  Therefore the software must be capable of partitioning data so that information is only visible to the right teams and individuals. Some applications can, and some can’t, provide the required levels of flexibility, however, trying to bend software into a shape that strays too far from the manufacturer’s original intentions won’t work; if the same software solution has been configured to meet the needs of multiple business units, software upgrades can be more complex to deploy.

When any business unit is selecting new software there’s a real focus on requirements and a concerted effort to address particular points of pain at the point of implementation.  But once the project is complete and the software has been installed, business as usual takes over and the focus on improvement stops.  An unexpected benefit of rolling out service desk software to other departments is that IT teams are forced to reconsider the configuration of their own system based on requirements presented by other business units.

I recall one customer – a London University – explaining that they were exceptionally proud of the configuration that they had implemented for their Facilities team; and at the same time ashamed that IT had failed to take advantage themselves of the same capabilities within the product. Fortunately, this spurred them on to reassess how they were using the solution and refocus on how service could be delivered to provide a better experience to their customers.

Maximizing service management potential in an organization

ITSM frameworks, and ITIL® in particular, contain a huge amount of good guidance and common sense. I’ve seen posts on social media and in community groups asking if ITIL could be used to run a restaurant. And without doubt, ITSM practices could be used to add value in certain areas of almost any business. ITIL has served ITSM very well and we’ve got an awful lot of value from it but it’s madness to suggest that one approach can be applied to every situation.

In all honesty, the current, traditional ITSM approach is not sufficiently agile to serve the demands of modern business.  ITSM has much to learn from modern service delivery models that embrace collaboration and transparency to improve the service experience.

The most valuable thing that could be done now is to understand what the customer really wants, which isn’t about adding more processes, but actually involves less service management, rather than more, to deliver successful outcomes.

We need to have more progressive methodologies and awareness of what’s happening in the consumer space and remember that we are customers too, with our own expectations of what customer service is. But with our ITSM hats on, we seem to forget that.

Start applying consumer thinking to the services you provide, deliver the value faster and think how you would feel to be on the receiving end of those services.

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