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Enterprise service management

People in a tech lab having a discussion

The opportunity with enterprise service management (ESM) is huge: bringing effectiveness and efficiency to work management across entire organizations.

And there is a growing understanding and desire to make it work. Certainly, through the impact of Covid-19, people have seen that traditional organizations can change, work differently and more collaboratively than before with inter-departmental barriers coming down.

ESM, as a term, is probably better understood by those working in IT/IT service management (ITSM); in practical terms, these are people with the tools, techniques, training and experience to deliver it.

However, the initiative and agenda-setting for ESM needs to come from the business. If the executive defines and sponsors what the enterprise is trying to achieve with change, then both the mandate and messaging will be more powerful.

Getting sanction from the top of the organization – as opposed to IT – should mean more people are likely to buy into it. This is especially true if digital transformation is involved, requiring senior leadership to make some big decisions.

Making ESM understandable 

As already stated, ITSM professionals’ involvement in ESM is both probable and useful.

However, while service management knowledge and experience are valuable, the language of ITSM needs translating to be meaningful to other business functions. For example, jargon such as incidents, problems and tickets in ITSM means something different to the other 99% of the world.

The IT mindset and its approaches are over-engineered for cross-departmental working and need to be adapted, or you risk losing non-IT people from the outset.

Also, rather than operating as a top-down method, ESM needs to incorporate newer, more collaborative ways of working, which is why Agile thinking resonates. There’s even an argument that a more organic approach in ESM works well; when departments see others being successful and want to share in it, this carries a lot of credibility.

Above all, the IT organization has to be working as part of the overall enterprise: showing how it can add value to the whole with tools and processes rather than imposing a model simply because it’s worked in IT.

ITIL 4 and ESM

As consultant, Doug Tedder, commented in a recent Enterprise Digital podcast episode, ITSM was (in some ways) “inflicted” on organizations.

This perception was probably the result of IT frameworks reflecting the period in which they were created and providing best practices based on what had been done before.

However, with the coming of ITIL® 4 – and with particular reference to the ITIL 4 Leader: Digital and IT Strategy and ITIL 4 Specialist: High-velocity IT modules – its curation of ideas is very much forward looking and relevant to ESM.

From day one, ITIL 4 was designed to be the “oil” that makes things work at a higher level in enterprises. And that means appealing to the wider world in organizations beyond IT operations; showing them what service management means and how it can help them.

Therefore, it’s possible to take the ideas and constructs within ITIL 4 and make them completely relevant to non-IT people and non-IT departments.

For example, at ITIL 4 Foundation level, the main bulk of the content is about managing services, managing and delivering products and how people can best work together. Equally, the concept of demand to value within the service value system, the four dimensions of service management and the guiding principles are completely applicable to an ESM approach.

The future of ESM

Right now, it’s rare to find an ESM department or function and – while there is more awareness and understanding – there is a question mark over who owns it within an organization.

However, with ESM promoting service management techniques across an enterprise and digital transformation changing the way businesses operate internally and externally, there is significant cross-over and value to gain from these change and improvement initiatives.

And while there will always be organizational silos – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is often unavoidable  – having effective ESM and good governance will mean the teams, functions or departments that should be collaborating will do so.

Discover how you can future-proof your organization with ITIL 4 >>>

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