The Case of the Missing Business Case

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I recently attended a business networking event, where by sheer luck, I met a fellow ITSM professional!    Yep-that’s right, in a sea of salespeople, financial advisors, realtors, graphic designers, and other professionals, I met someone that knew what IT Service Management was!  I dunno – maybe us ITSM-types are like magnets….or maybe we’re like moths to flames.  I digress.

Anyway, we struck up a conversation, during which I learned that his organization was going through their third attempt at an ITSM implementation.  They had recently invested in a new ITSM tool (check that one off of the list!) and had strong support from senior IT leadership to make ITSM happen.  In fact, they had already defined over 300 IT services!  But, months into the initiative, they were starting to encounter resistance from key stakeholders within the business, who were questioning the value of an ITSM initiative in the face of other business challenges.

“Did you develop a business case for your ITSM initiative?” I asked.

“No.”

Hmmm….no business case for the ITSM initiative, no senior business management support, and now business resistance to the ITSM initiative….the third ITSM initiative.

Another Case of the Missing Business Case for ITSM.

Unfortunately, I hear about situations like this frequently.  IT doesn’t take the time or put in the effort to develop the business case for what could arguably be one of the most significant and business-impacting initiatives – if successful – that any business could ever undertake.   ITSM – done well – will literally transform how a business does business.  So if we are to be successful, we in IT must start acting as part of the business.   When it comes to the ITSM initiative, this means we must develop the business case for ITSM.

Businesses make decisions regarding significant investments based on a business case.   IT is a critical element of any business, in fact, in many businesses, the business simply cannot function without IT services.  The line (if any) between IT and the business has become so blurred, it may be non-existent. Couple this fact with the fact a failed IT initiative is doubly expensive for the business.  First, there is the cost of the lost investment in IT.  This cost is then borne by the other parts of the business.  So not only did the business “pay” to fund the (failed) ITSM initiative, the business has to also “pay” for the outcome of that failure – often in the form of budget cuts, delayed or cancelled IT projects, or other impacts.

Why develop the business case for the ITSM initiative?  Here’s a few reasons:

  • It gives IT the opportunity to demonstrate its understanding of the business it serves
  • It objectively discusses the opportunities, risks, benefits and deliverables of ITSM in business terms
  • It discusses the rationale and benefits the ITSM initiative will achieve
  • It relates the ITSM initiative to business goals and objectives
  • It helps business executives make a business decision about its investments in IT

What does IT get in return for a well-thought and written business case?

  • It makes the ITSM initiative a business initiative, not just an “IT initiative”
  • It establishes how ITSM will deliver value and illustrates the critical contribution that IT makes within the business
  • Most importantly, it obtains critical senior business management investment and support.

And with that support, the ITSM initiative can overcome or even avoid resistance from key business stakeholders.

Case closed.

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