Digital transformation offers organizations the potential to compete, stay relevant and reduce the cost of delivering services to customers and running business processes.
IT service management (ITSM) provides a structured process, approach and common language along with the governance needed to undergo transformation and maintain it effectively, often in auditable environments.
Presently, digital transformation looks different across organizations and regions. In Australia, digital transformation can be seen at all points of the spectrum, from the relatively simple digitization of analogue data and paper-based files, to the amalgamation, automation and digitization of business processes and systems.
As a result of the latter, the leaders and managers within the organization can view and manipulate information from all areas of the organization – often delivered via dashboards or using Business Intelligence (BI) tools – to make critical and operational decisions with a much greater degree of timeliness and transparency.
The role of ITSM in digital transformation
ITSM plays a significant role in helping businesses deliver digital transformation in today’s world. This is because the approaches provided by ITSM are just as important as technology change itself.
ITSM addresses strategy: prompting questions such as “What is the business need? Who are the stakeholders? What is important to them?” It also examines service design, understanding that digital transformation is more about a business/organizational change than an IT change. ITSM also addresses the need to ensure the realization of benefits (both technology and business) and that these can be measured effectively.
When moving into transitional processes, for example, release management, ITSM asks: “What can we handle and at what pace? What skills do we require? What is the timing? Has the release been tested and does it meet the requirements including regulations/legislation?”
It also helps businesses focus on change management, identifying governance structure related to a release while ensuring the risks have been identified and addressed and the appropriate approvals provided.
ITSM also provides the operational processes to ensure the digital transformation can be appropriately managed and supported in the operational environment.
However, the challenge for ITSM professionals in supporting digital transformation is the projects involved are not genuine IT projects, but organizational projects. This requires IT people, process managers and practitioners to undertake training and skill development beyond IT to manage business transformation and organizational change management (OCM).
Having the ability to communicate to the wider organization about IT and change is an age-old problem. It means being able to speak about topics that are meaningful to the efficient and effective operation of the business, for example the ability to process payroll.
Bridge building and best practice in digital transformation
Before now, many organizations have demonstrated reluctance to invest in training and OCM. Though they place value on technical training, it’s also important to acknowledge the importance of this area as it relates to organizational transformation.
This tends to happen over time, with support from dedicated OCM professionals and business analysts. It requires the input of those people who understand the business processes, who ask questions to understand how things work and how to communicate, to generate efficiencies with change.
There needs to be a positive reason to communicate why change is necessary, to get the organization truly involved in the transformation project.
Best-practice approaches should include:
1. Don’t undertake digital transformation because it’s trendy. Do what makes real sense to automate within the organization.
2. Do make it benefit more than one part of the organization. Undertake the analysis up front to see what you’re going to transform.
3. Do identify clear benefits, and the strategies for measuring the realization of those benefits. What, and how, are you going to measure?
4. Do engage an OCM manager to work with the business and retain them for the life of the project.
5. Do use existing governance structures where possible.
6. Don’t fall short on technology change management – test, test and test!
7. Do appropriate training and people development as part of the organizational change management programme: that means a holistic approach to training that covers the shift to what people will be doing – and make the training fun, interactive and constantly refreshed based on feedback from participants and skill gaps or issues identified as the deployment unfolds.
8. Do use what you have from the tried and tested ITIL® processes you know that work in terms of release and deployment management.
Treat the digital transformation process as a way to improve what you have. For example, if you’ve not undertaken service design before, then now is your chance!
Adopting ITSM principles allows you to structure a project, along with the ability to manage and measure benefits. This allows you make small adjustments along the way, rather than getting to the end and realizing things aren’t working effectively.
Read more AXELOS Blog Posts from Charlotte Morison
Essential ITSM tips for 2018
Progress iteratively – why “baby steps” are better than all or nothing
How to plan for major incidents in ITSM
How to prove effectiveness and value in ITIL®
4 steps to getting the most from managed service providers
The modern service desk