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Want more value from ITSM? 4 models for more effective service management


David_official.jpgAs someone who’s been involved in ITSM for a number of years, I’ve been doing some thinking recently on where our industry is evolving to. It’s clear to me that with cloud, flat IT budgets and the continuing struggles that many organisations have with even the basics of service management that we’ve got to get smarter about ITSM. Some of this came out in a blog post I wrote on demonstrating the value in service management. Instead of focusing on implementing discrete processes, why don’t we focus on implementing value chains? After all, this is what actually has meaning for the customer. Then at least we have a way to show the distinct value realised for our efforts.


All of that is prelude to what I think needs to come next: applying those value chains to operating models and—depending where your organisation is—deciding which to implement. Because it is not one size fits all.  


What’s your operating model?

I spend a lot of time meeting with customers, and one thing I hear from them is that they need a simpler way to approach service management. They need to cut through the clutter of ITIL and ITSM bloat. So rather than tackle everything at once, I advise people to prioritize based on their maturity level and operating model.


The first thing you need to do is figure out what your needs are and identify your operating model. This is a continuum, with the bottom being very focused on keeping the lights on, and the top very strategic. When you understand what your current operating style is, then you can understand how to optimise what you’re doing and figure out what you need to develop to move up to the next level.


The 4 stages of the SM journey

In my experience, organisations progress through four stages, with most falling somewhere in the middle. Whatever stage you are in, service management can help you operate better and deliver more value.


1. Operational: At this stage, IT is budget driven and operates as a cost center. Basically, IT has a bunch of servers and other assets, and the business simply asks IT to look after them. Services are siloed, and there’s little sharing. The most critical value chain to implement here is Event to Fix. The business isn’t looking to IT for strategic input, it wants to know when things are going to be fixed. To move to the next level, you need to be look at sharing services across business units and providing consistent service across the organisation.  


2. Shared services: This stage is characterized by the cost model. IT tries to work out how much isolated services—such as email or desktop services—cost and how that cost can be recovered or transferred. You’ve jumped to a new level of challenge at this stage, but IT is still very internally focused. You start to see the Demand to Production and Request to Fulfill value chains here, but it’s a simplistic implementation. Going to the next level requires building a much stronger financial model on top of shared services where you’re able to look at suppliers and understand their costs.


3. Service Integrator (sometimes called SIAM): Now you’re getting a handle on the IT supply chain. At this stage IT is managing multiple suppliers and concerns center around what those suppliers cost, making sure they operate correctly and being able to swap suppliers if they don’t. The focus has moved away from a purely financial model to one that’s more focused on delivering value to the business. At this stage you’re moving to a more strategic view of IT services. To move to the next stage, you increase the complexity of what you’re managing and become almost purely strategic.


4. Service Broker or Cloud: Now instead of getting simple services from suppliers, you’re strategically managing more complex services—all the way from IaaS to SaaS—and doing so in a way that ensures the right level of service for your business. The value chain that matters here is Request to Fulfill. Operations is in many ways pushed out to the various suppliers, and IT’s function is highly strategic.


Many IT organisations know they’re low maturity, but they’re under pressure from the business to be more cloud-like. The answer isn’t to try to do everything at once. Instead look at where you are and focus on the appropriate value chains.


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About the Author


I am the Global Lead of HP’s Service Management Profession with approximately 7,500 members. I gained my Managers Certificate in Service Management in 1998. I have continued to apply Service Management concepts in a number of roles.

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