“We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re way ahead of schedule!”
This phrase sums up the IT Service Management conundrum for me. IT Service Management is critical to Digital Transformation, and the business technology organisation is poised for an amazing future if it can grasp the opportunity to lead that digital transformation business strategy. So why is it then that I continually see a lack of Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement in requirements for new IT Service Management software systems?
I spend a fair amount of my time reading and advising on responses to tenders for new IT Service Management software solutions and I have yet to see one that makes any reference to Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement.
Every tender I work through has the ‘standard’ IPC (Incident, Problem, Change) and have requirements for processes and capabilities like Service Catalogue, Knowledge Management and SLA Management. They also very often ask about self-service portal capability, and of course some will ask for something very specific to that organisation’s specific needs. But, on the whole, the requirements are nearly always focused on Service Operation with some Service Transition and a cursory nod towards Service Design. There are never any requirements based around Service Strategy and, oddly, nothing for Continual Service Improvement either!
So does Service Strategy and CSI not matter? How about convergence between IT and Business Outcomes? Do we care about the management of business relationships and the management of Demand and new Digital Initiatives?
Are we really in a situation after decades of ITIL and IT Service Management best practices that organisations are still only asking for Operational capabilities when they look to replace their ITSM software tools. Haven’t we moved on? Does service strategy and continual improvement not matter to those responsible for delivering IT Service Management?
If the focus for ITSM tools is limited to operational use then I’m genuinely concerned that we’re going to be stuck in this endless loop for the coming years and we will never truly realise the power of ITSM and ITIL. I have this sense of inevitability, in that the market will never require, and therefore vendors will never supply, ITSM solutions that support and assist Service Strategy and CSI. If that happens, then it follows that this same scenario is set to run and run, until the market mistakenly says that ITSM is not relevant for the modern digitised business.
So what’s the cause of this “groundhog day” situation? Why am I still seeing the lack of Service Strategy and CSI requirements? Who’s out there writing these tender questionnaires? Does the CIO ever get involved in these requirements? Do CIO’s truly understand the strategic importance of ITSM? Does ITSM need to do a better job of showing CIO relevance? Do CIOs see ITSM as operational and something that only happens in and around the Service Desk? Perhaps the problem is education and CIO awareness. Whatever the source of the problem, I believe that something has to change.
There must be a fundamental realisation that ITSM is critical to Digital Transformation, but in order to successfully play it’s part, the ITSM capability must support all aspects of the ITIL model. We cannot afford to get this wrong. We can no longer ignore Service Strategy and CSI, and assume that these things just happen. Service Strategy and CSI are part of the very core of Digital Transformation.
For example, take Business Relationship Management (BRM) and the management of Digital Initiatives. BRM sits within the ITIL Service Strategy framework and this role is fundamental to the exploratory, discovery, demand, value planning and value realisation from digital initiatives across the entire business landscape. A BRM must spend as much time understanding the organisation from the customer’s perspective as they spend working internally with business partners across the entire business, surfacing opportunities to exploit technologies to enhance those external facing (digital enabled) customer experiences with the organisation.
Whilst the original ITIL definition of the BRM doesn’t imply this level or scope, the latest thinking of strategic BRM from the Business Relationship Management Institute (BRMI), and my own research and experiences, highlight that BRM’s do indeed have this level of strategic input and influence.
So, if the BRM surfaces and shapes demand for new technologies, apps and services, this will directly impact demand, portfolio, development, IT investments, projects, suppliers, existing services, existing infrastructure, cloud solutions, and the delivery of the technology service if/when the initiative is approved. The BRM’s are also responsible to ensure that the forecast and planned value(s) from these initiatives are realised, along with the task of working hand in hand with service delivery management, demonstrating delivered value and identifying opportunities for additional value from the operationalised services.
When BRM’s work separately from Service Design and Service Operations using different toolsets, it creates the inherent silos of information, data, process and culture. There’s is no ‘joined up’ to deliver the desired business outcome…the separate areas, working in different tools, inherently have the difficulty of reconciling data and can easily find themselves working against different outcomes and agendas. So it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to realise that if the IT organisation itself is fragmented, how can it possibly support an organisation that is relying on IT and technology to unify and join up business processes to ensure the digital customer experiences are streamlined, effective and quite simply, amazing!
When you next prepare your requirements for your ITSM tool please remember the whole ITSM story. Is it any wonder that organisations implementing new ITSM software tend to repeat the exercise every three to five years!
What other outcome, other than rip and replace, can be expected when the software selection process is based upon features and functions aligned to operational requirements only. If the selection process included scoring for how an ITSM software tool has the ability to assist and enable Service Strategy and helps drive CSI, then there maybe a good chance that the organisation sourcing the new solution will find one that not only fixes the short to mid-term need, but provides the ability to drive Service Strategy and converge that strategy with business strategy.
Next time you’re building your IT Service Management software tool requirements list please don’t forget Service Strategy and CSI and write into your requirements capabilities to support:
- Business Relationship Management
- Demand Management
- Portfolio Management
- Finance Management
- Supplier and Contract Management
- Business Value Monitoring
- Continual Service Improvement
…and once you’ve done that, make sure that all the ITSM capabilities enable you to roll up the ITSM reporting against business outcomes and business strategy.
With an ITSM toolset that delivers all those capabilities you will have the ability to show how IT Service Management truly enables and supports Digital Transformation.
I look forward to reviewing the next tender…