AXELOS’ Future ITSM Professional report predicts a growing need for people working in ITSM to adopt a more strategic role as service management principles spread beyond IT and throughout organizations. Service management consultant, Lisa Hodges, reflects on the findings:
IT service management (ITSM) professionals have a golden opportunity: applying their expertise outside the traditional IT function and enabling an organization-wide approach to service management.
Organizations skilled at applying ITSM best practices – who have proven their capability to understand and apply those practices at an operational and tactical level – are now in a position to act as strategic partners.
It’s become manifest that whole organizations can benefit from adapting service management principles, partnering with an IT service provider to create service management systems integrated across the enterprise.
However, this is happening in some but not all organizations. Many IT service providers still lag “behind the curve” and have not evolved from a mainly operational role. Guidance on how to move into this role of ‘strategic advisor’ does in fact exist in best practice publications such as ITIL®, which has itself evolved far beyond the original publications.
In this age of automation, IT service providers who don’t engage with the business at a strategic level put themselves at risk.
IT organizations who have successfully mastered best practice at an operational and tactical level - with streamlined and improved processes in place - are positioned well to take advantage of the next wave in automation. Those lagging behind face serious issues: while the rest of the world uses well-established practices as a springboard for evolution, those with less mature processes and practices in place will struggle to automate, and this capability gap will hinder the benefits of the next wave of automation. What happens when you automate immature, ineffective processes? You simply get bad results, faster.
Acquiring the capabilities
Organizations with mature capabilities and well established practices can utilize the skills, knowledge and experience of their people to leap ahead. Organizations who feel their people’s capabilities aren’t there yet can help them learn and develop via proven best practice frameworks. The skill sets and knowledge necessary to partner at a strategic level and to create a culture of continual improvement can be learned, but must be underpinned by:
- A clear and comprehensive understanding of customer and business processes, and
- Effective project, programme and portfolio management that integrates the business and IT.
ITIL provides a great set of practices; a ‘roadmap’ if you will, to equip a service provider partner with the skills and knowledge to develop an appropriate IT and service strategy, ensuring technology resources are planned and allocated appropriately to deliver on the business strategy.
Even when integrated strategies are in place, many organizations lack the programme, portfolio, and project management disciplines necessary to deliver on those strategies. As a result, each business unit throws what they think they want or need over the “IT wall”. With little programme or portfolio discipline in place, IT is expected to deliver on all business ‘needs’, with no filter to help allocate resources. Good project management isn’t enough. We need programme and portfolio management to ensure the right projects are chosen to translate strategy into tactical and operational level actions. This ensures each business unit (including IT) knows what capabilities must be developed and can do so effectively, with minimal wasted resources.
The softer-skilled ITSM professional
Aside from the need for best practices ITSM professionals – as AXELOS’s Future ITSM Professional report mentions – need to embrace softer skills such as communication, organizational change management, collaboration, creativity and relationship building.
Some people have a natural aptitude for communicating effectively, but the skills can be learned and ITSM professionals need to take these skills seriously. As more routine operational tasks are automated, when customers must engage with an IT organization their needs are more complex, require more sophisticated communication skills and problem solving abilities, and expectations are much higher.
The ability to collaborate is also key and principles such as those contained in PRINCE2 Agile and DevOps approaches lend themselves well to helping ITSM professionals work with people across functions in the business and in IT.
Wherever there is a skills and experience gap, organizations must be assured that these gaps can and should be filled.
Download the Future ITSM Professional Report
Read previous AXELOS Blog Posts by Lisa Hodges
Bi-modal/two-speed IT: the chaos with traditional and agile projects
PMBOK and PRINCE2®: how Project Managers can survive in an agile world