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Where does Business Service Management fit in the IT value chain?


BSM.jpgBusiness Service Management (BSM) impacts the delivery of two elements of the IT value chain. As a reminder, the IT value chain describes how IT assembles its activities to provide business differentiation.


The first intersection point is the requirement to deploy value stream. This value stream is about delivering new strategic demand that meets business requirements. BSM captures the output of the service design component of this value stream, service-level objectives, and ensures that applications and supporting infrastructure perform to expectations. Additionally, in what is known as a Dev/Ops environment, real-time user monitoring is leveraged during development to ensure that applications are tested against realistic user behaviors. Scripts can be reused in a post-production environment, or production scripts can be reused for future development environments, in much the same way as release packages are used to reduce risk. Performance issues discovered in production are then fed directly back into the requirements for a version upgrade or change in accordance with the service warranty. The ability to inspect recent development changes allows performance issues to be traced to the latest code release.


The second intersection is the detect to correct value stream. This value stream focuses on the effectiveness and efficiency of IT operations—something that is really core to BSM. Using a tennis analogy, BSM performs the “front hand” of detect to correct by monitoring, detecting and correcting application and infrastructure performance issues as they happen. By doing so, BSM prevents business services from breaking down and degrading performance. BSM also performs important “backhand” functions for detect to correct when something actually breaks, managing the internal processes for elevating a triggered event to an incident or for problem isolation. This function ensures issues are prioritized appropriately, and that repeat events are reduced and until they are eliminated. This value stream and BSM aims to, as COBIT 5 suggests, “increase (end) user productivity and minimize disruptions.”


What are BSM’s goals for requirement to deploy and detect to correct?

For requirement to deploy, you want to know that quality requirements are implemented and that the application or service delivers business benefits specified during service design. This includes functional requirement around application performance and non-functional requirements around service availability. Because this is a key function of BSM, it is often deployed by teams responsible for cradle-to-grave application delivery. Additionally, you want to see that proposed solutions meet requirements as well avoid associated risks. You want to see delivery becoming more predictable via reuse of scripts, and performance issues detected preproduction—or in the worse case, post-production.

For detect to correct, BSM ensures that operational activities run efficiently and effectively. After determining standard operational procedures, IT leadership needs to ensure IT operations are regularly monitored, measured, reported and remediated prior to a breakage or performance degradation. IT leadership needs to use historical data to create an availability plan that anticipates business needs and can provide appropriate capacity based on customer business requirements. As a part of this, IT must know that service monitoring is occurring and that capacity, availability and performance issues are being identified and routinely resolved before they impact a service.


Finally, when things do break, IT leadership needs to ensure incidents are resolved according to service levels, regardless of how an incident is initiated. This requires BSM and its ability to reconcile service-level goals with actual performance. Obviously, IT should aim to reduce the repeat offenders of poor delivery; this is accomplished by policies, standards, automation and effective problem management. BSM’s problem isolation plays a big role in decreasing the number of recurring incidents over time—and ultimately, making problems go away permanently.


What measures the quality of BSM across the IT value chain?

BSM enables the tracking of a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that can be used to measure performance across both of the above value streams. One BSM KPI that is important to both value streams is the percentage of end-users affected by application quality problems. A high number indicates a problem in the requirements definition or project build that must be fixed to move forward. Next, look at the percentage of met application performance and the percentage of applications availability. These two KPIs tell you how well you are running activities associated with service management and availability. Next, you’ll want to know the quality of your service and application coverage. Look here at the percentage of monitored applications. To be even more customer-focused, look at the downtime percentage of SLAs and the percentage of failed business transactions. These two numbers have a clear and direct impact on business customers.


From here, take a peek at how well incident response times are being delivered against goal. You want the percentage of incident response times that are met to improve month over month. Next, it is good to get things fixed permanently. Another good KPI here is the percentage of problems resolved by due dates. With BSM and appropriate procedures, this should be going down over time. At the same time, you want to ensure configuration management provides sufficient information about services to BSM so service issues are effectively managed. It is essential that configuration is not only up-to-date, but actively controlled and managed.


Where do you go from here?

Start where you drive the most improvement in business performance. Often this can involve fixing service-level management or how you monitor and manage availability and performance issues. Regardless of where you start, be sure to measure performance against concrete goals to drive real improvement.


Related links:

The complete, unabridged secret to managing the IT Value Chain

IT Value Chain: The roles of cloud and automation in business differentiation

7 ways to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the IT value chain

Solution page: Business Service Management

Solution page: IT Performance Management

Twitter: @MylesSuer

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About the Author


Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product Management including IT Financial Management and Executive Scorecard.

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