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Author  Michelle Slabbert

Head of IT Service Management, Standard Bank Group

August 3, 2021 |

 4 min read

  • Blog
  • Business solutions
  • Customer needs
  • User experience
  • IT Services
  • ITIL

In five years as head of IT service management at Standard Bank, I’ve observed increasing challenges to ensure digital services are available for customers.

Customer expectations have changed and evolved so quickly: they are engaging with smart phone apps daily which need to be user friendly and available 24/7. Customers expect the same agility from banking apps as they get from their other apps, though banking apps are typically more complex to meet added security and regulatory requirements.

Start-up businesses have zero IT legacy and can quickly become agile. However, a bank like ours – with almost 160 years’ history – faces greater challenges in the new digital era. For example, embedded processes and ways of working need to change at huge scale when we’re dealing with the “Titanic” rather than a “speed boat”. This legacy does also bring many opportunities too, like a strong brand and customer base.

Another challenge facing many IT shops is that engineering skills are at a premium, therefore finding and keeping skilled engineers is becoming increasingly difficult when they have their choice of jobs.

From silos to end-to-end experience

Previously, IT and technology was process centric and operated in silos. Now the necessary focus is on end-to-end customer experience and collaboration, and this requires a different culture.

While organizations need to shift their ways of working to incorporate agile, Lean and DevOps methodologies, they cannot throw governance out the door. In reality, we cannot deliver in an environment where it’s a “free for all” and where the emphasis is only about introducing new features. This must be balanced with maintaining operations effectively as well.

This is important as the bank has embraced a change in operating model: moving from a centralized service management capability to having the work closer to the end customer. Using the approach of “you build it, you run it” means getting direct feedback and empowering teams to make decisions that add value to the customer.

To achieve this, we have a set of practices that gives teams boundaries to work within, as well as associated recommended processes, tools and techniques to support them.

Incidents, problems and change are managed through collaboration – and techniques like swarming – where everyone is involved in root cause analysis and resolution. We consider and measure the impact on our customer and elicit direct feedback to shape improvements.

From IT service management (ITSM) to enterprise service management (ESM)

Making the transition to enterprise service management is vital for organizations. IT must evolve from being “order takers” from business to true partners.

Our business colleagues have become more tech savvy and have higher expectations about achieving the same customer experience they enjoy in their personal lives through the use of technology. With digital transformation making digital channels vitally important in remaining relevant to our customers, IT is no longer a “back-office” function. It must be able to take its seat at the boardroom table, have a business conversation and ensure the organization fulfils its service promises to customers.

ITIL 4 – learning for the whole organization

I think ITIL® 4 is a base certification that everyone in the organization should have – not just those in traditional ITSM roles.

It plays a significant part in evolving organizations from ITSM to ESM. One of the ways we are supporting this evolution is by building a Service Management academy to educate everyone in the organization about how ITIL 4 can assist in driving our commitment to customer-centricity.

One of the key aspects is the focus on value streams: looking at the entire chain from the demand or opportunity through to delivering value for customers and how the various components in this chain integrate seamlessly with the focus on a common goal.

In addition, the ITIL 4 guiding principles are valuable: as an example, starting with what we have, seeking feedback and making iterative changes.

And as our teams push for velocity, speed to market and the removal of unnecessary red tape, it’s vital that ITIL is not seen as an obstacle to achieve this; moving responsibly at speed to create customer value.

We want to be a services company and that means responding quickly to change (as we have experienced in the last year with the pandemic) and remaining relevant to our customers.

The service management difference

Historically, IT service management was a separate, back-office function. Now, everything we do is service-centred and focused on customer experience.

We have daily meetings focusing on the latest customer service measures, feedback and input from retrospectives on how to make continual improvements. These conversations are driven by CIOs who have become owners of end-to-end service delivery.

To fulfil our customer service delivery promises, service management must be in our DNA, regardless of the role we perform within the value chain. This is about remaining relevant and future proofing our business and this needs continual engagement and adapting what we do in a constant feedback and change process.