Tag Archives: ITSM

Don’t Believe These 6 Service Management Myths

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I have said before that service management has gotten a bad reputation. But that bad reputation is somewhat deserved because the service management of the past failed a lot of companies. I’ve heard from many IT professionals that they have tried service management and it just didn’t work or worse, they have current service management initiatives but they’re not sure if it’s working.

Service management has evolved over the years and many of the beliefs out there are just plain wrong. What if I told you that service management is a secret weapon that can solve many of the challenges facing a modern organization – if only more professionals understood the true power of service management?

It’s time to bust some service management myths.

Service management means fitting into a strict framework

This idea of adhering to an inflexible, strict framework is one of the biggest service management misconceptions. Many people view service management as being overly restrictive and that in order for it to work, you have to fit your organization and workstreams into exact, inflexible parameters. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Good service management is first understanding how the organization wants to derive value and outcomes from its use of technology, then applying the right methodologies to enable the realization of that value and outcomes.

This means that you should first identify your organization’s specific challenges and goals, then adopt and adapt approaches that best leverage people, capabilities, and technology in such a way that will address those challenges. You can drop in different aspects of service management best practices without forcing your team to adopt every single best practice. Good service management is customized to meet the needs of the organization, not the other way around.

Implementing service management requires a new tool

Another common myth of service management is that it’s all about the tool. Often, when I ask a prospect about their service management environment, they’ll start talking about the tools they are using, and not the business challenge they’re trying to address. This tool-first mentality around service management is problematic – it means many organizations go straight to investing in a tool before understanding what they are trying to achieve with service management. And because tools are never “magic bullets”, implementations of tools without understanding the why behind adoption of service management rarely delivers the outcomes that the organization needs.

Good service management isn’t an out-of-the-box solution. You can’t just fire up a new tool and expect everything to magically start working correctly. Instead, you need to start with the groundwork of mapping where you are currently. Map value streams, get clear on who is responsible for what and identify where you’re experiencing gaps in service. You need to get a clear picture of how your organization is currently delivering services before you can even start to think about a tool.

If you skip this step and go straight to investing in a tool, you’ll end up with an expensive tool that still doesn’t solve your problems. Or you’ll have a tool that is fully featured but your team can’t even use half of the features.

The bottom line is, if you want to properly implement service management, don’t start the conversation by discussing tools.

SM is only for large enterprises

To some, service management is a bureaucratic mess of processes that is only necessary in a company of thousands of people. But small and mid-sized companies need service management just as much as the bigger guys.

Good service management means:

  • Reliable, consistent, and relatable services
  • A measurable contribution to business value
  • Efficient, data-driven, defined, and documented processes

If you’ll notice, there’s nothing that says that good service management requires a big team. Service management is simply about delivering great service as efficiently and effectively as possible. This is so important in small and mid-sized companies! You’re getting just as much accomplished with smaller teams so everyone needs to work smart and find the workflows that will keep the team operating as efficiently as possible!

There’s no “minimum employee count” for organizations wanting to implement service management. It can make a positive difference in any size organization.

Service management is just about the Service Desk

Many people think service management is just something that the service desk does. Sure, the service desk is important and it will benefit from service management initiatives. But the goal of the service desk is to deliver a smooth experience for users. It doesn’t represent a holistic view of how value and services flow through the organization. And the service desk by itself cannot deliver good service management; rather, it relies on being integrated with all other parts of the organization to deliver good service management.

Service management is about providing and managing the right combination of people, processes and technology to enable a business to meet its objectives and deliver measurable value. The service desk is part of this but it’s just one piece of the overall puzzle. True service management extends far beyond the service desk.

Service management is just ITIL

I’ve noticed many people use “service management” and ITIL®1 interchangeably which contributes to much of the confusion around service management.

Service management is about the holistic view of a business and its IT capabilities. It can act like an operating model for the business of IT. It’s an overarching view of how IT operates within the context of the business and how IT helps the overall business achieve its goals.

On the other hand, ITIL is a collection of guidance and advice for implementing service management practices. Using a sports analogy, service management is the playbook for the season while ITIL may be a specific play executed on gameday.

Service management is only about IT

Finally, we have one of the most pervasive myths about service management: that it’s only about IT. Of course, for a long time it was known as “IT Service Management”, so it’s no wonder that this is a belief.

For service management to be truly effective, it must reflect and support entire organizational value streams, not just the IT portions. Technology is no longer department-specific. Technology connects entire value streams in nearly all organizations. If you don’t have enterprise-wide workflows that support value all the way to the customer, you likely have a bunch of disjointed pieces that result in a poor customer experience.

This idea of service management being used across the business is more commonly referred to as “Enterprise Service Management” and it’s becoming more prevalent. Limiting service management practices and views to only IT is severely limiting the organization’s ability to grow, scale, and meet the ever-evolving expectations of their customers.

Service Management: A Secret Weapon

Service management is often viewed as being old-school, restrictive, and too basic. However, if you look at service management with fresh eyes and recognize the difference between quality service management versus the myths of service management, you may end up seeing that it is the solution you’ve been trying to find all along.

Interested in learning how service management can improve your organization? Has your organization fallen victim to one or more of these service management myths? Let’s talk – book a free 30-minute consultation here.

*ITIL is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.
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5 Modern Use Cases for Service Management

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“Service Management” is in desperate need of a rebrand. For years, service management was synonymous with IT. It was branded as IT service management. But service management isn’t strictly about the service desk or specific methodologies. Service management is about improving how an organization creates, manages, and delivers value to its end users.

If you have already closed the service management chapter in your company’s book…it’s time to reopen it. Among the many lessons that 2020 taught us, one of them is that every organization needs service management to operate efficiently.

But service management of 2020 is not the service management (as it perhaps was considered) of the past. It’s something that every organization should use to solve its biggest challenges and enable holistic business solutions. I’ve identified 5 modern use cases for service management that address issues that many organizations are struggling with today.

Organizations have to operate under a hybrid work model.

One of the biggest impacts of the coronavirus is its impact on how businesses operate. Most experts are predicting that for many organizations remote work will remain an option for most employees, even after it’s safe to fully return to the traditional office environment.

This is going to lead to issues for the organizations because they are going to lose any “tribal standards” in how work is completed. For example, one week an invoice can be hand delivered to the finance department, the finance department verbally agrees to paying the invoice. They pick up the phone after payment and confirm to the rep that the vendor has been paid. But then, the following week, maybe the representative is working remotely, so they have to email the invoice to the finance department. Then there is a virtual back and forth email exchange around payment. There is going to be a lack of standardization which can severely impact the business. Of course, this is one small example. For something simple like processing an invoice, this hybrid work model might not significantly impact operations. But when the workflows are more complex and perhaps, lead directly to the customer, these often undefined by tribally-performed workflows can get backed up, criss-crossed and broken quickly.

The lack of consistent and defined workflows across an organization will be severely impacted with a hybrid workflow model. If you didn’t have defined workflows when everyone was working within a traditional in-office model, or if you had defined workflows – but they were never adjusted for remote work, then watch out. Work is going to be delayed, employees are going to get frustrated, and leaders are not going to be able to effectively measure the efficiency of their workflows.

Good service management is the solution for hybrid workflows. It provides a framework to create a flexible workflow for every important initiative. When implemented correctly and across the organization, you’ll be able to build a workflow for any type of hybrid workflow situation.

Customers are not experiencing the full value of a product or service.

Customers are being impacted by the changes in your organization. Whether it’s due to layoffs, broken workflows or tightened budgets, your customers will feel that decrease in value if you don’t account for those changes and adapt appropriately.

For example, let’s say Company ABC had to cut part of its warehouse staff and the rest of its employees are working from home. Without the convenience of having customer service agents in-house, sales representatives have become a bit slow to process orders. Because of a short-staffed warehouse, shipments are routinely delayed. The end result? A flustered team and a frustrated customer who starts looking for other options where their shipments will be delivered on time.

Value leakage is a term that has been brought up often during the pandemic. Value leakage happens when value doesn’t flow properly through the organization and the end user doesn’t receive the full value of a product or service. If value leaks from any part of a value stream, no matter if it’s the ordering process, the delivery, the actual product itself, or the customer service after a product has been received, it’s bad for the customer – and that’s bad for the organization.

Value leakage can be identified and corrected with good service management because good service management provides a holistic view of the value stream. It pulls back the curtain on how every department works with one another and will identify where there are bottlenecks and value leaks that inhibit value from reaching the end user. It also, as noted above, will help you to create a workflow that tears down silos and allows leaders to measure and optimize across the value stream so that if a customer doesn’t realize the full value of a product or service, you can easily trace back to why and where it can be fixed.

Bad tech investments are blowing budgets and ruining productivity.

This is one of the biggest problems I see that service management can solve. Too many organizations are putting their money into the fanciest, flashiest, newest technology on the market only to implement and find…. it’s not the magic bullet they were hoping it would be. Organizations end up with a very expensive tool that employees aren’t fully using and that isn’t doing anything to actually support the organization.

For example, during the pandemic Company XYZ invested in a project management software in the hopes it would keep the organization running smoothly while everyone worked remotely. Unfortunately, because the company was remote, training for the tool was non-existent and most of the company struggled with understanding how to best use it. Without any clarity regarding desired outcomes, defined processes, or how the organization intended to collaborate, each department adapted their own methods for working with the tool. Now there are seven different departments using the same software in completely different ways. Company XYZ is now in a hole with this expensive software and they have no idea how to get out of it.

So how does service management solve for bad tech? Well, the problem is often not the tech. It’s how that tech is being used. It’s never a technology problem. It’s usually a workflow or people problem. Instead of investing in different technology or adding on more features to this already expensive software, Company XYZ needs to get their departments on the same page and a standardized approach for using the tool and creating support services to help facilitate using the tool. This just so happens to be exactly what service management can do for you.

Organizations are straddled with restricted budgets.

Let’s look at the pandemic struggles of an average company:

  • Budgets have been cut because sales have decreased.
  • Layoffs have occurred so employees are terrified and overwhelmed.
  • The way we work has changed but workflows were never adjusted so there are lots of gaps in service delivery and in the overall customer experience.

That means organizations have to work smarter, faster and for less money.

No big ask, right?

The way to get your teams working smart and faster without more money or more help is to help them work better together.

Again, service management is a holistic view of the way organizations work together. It forces everyone to see silos, gaps, opportunities for improvement, and where they fit into the success of the organization. A transparent view of how value and work flows through an organization is your best opportunity for getting your team to work at its peak performance.

Transparency works in business. It can empower your team and creates a “no blame” work environment where everyone understands their role.

This cannot be done without implementing service management techniques.

Employee experience is at a low.

There have been plenty of studies done on how organizations that prioritize employee experience frequently report higher levels of customer satisfaction. But between a global pandemic, tightened budgets, mandatory remote work, and an “always on” culture, many employees are struggling this year and employee morale is low.

Unhappy employees means less productivity and worse outputs, which is bad enough. But if organizations don’t take steps to improve employee experience, then they could be scaring away top talent already at their company and scaring off talent from even applying or accepting positions.

Employees are the core of any business and creating a positive working environment — whether it’s remote or in an office — should be at the top of every leader’s priority list right now. When you can’t throw employee appreciation nights or offer free food in the break room, what can you do?

You can make sure that every employee has everything they need to do their best work. This could mean automating tedious and repetitive tasks, creating clear processes so everyone understands their boundaries and where others can meet their needs and in general, eliminate friction from an employee’s daily work. Once again, this is service management to a tee.

Service management isn’t about forcing everyone to follow a strict protocol. It’s not about how IT delivers services. It’s about how an organization works together to create a positive working environment, provide value, and delight customers. It’s a way to give your leaders and your team a transparent view of how value is created and delivered.

Let value lead the way in 2021 and let service management create that value.

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How To Avoid the Ghosts of ITSM Past

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What happened to IT service management? It feels like not that long ago IT was the master of its domain. But things have changed. Shadow IT is rampant in most organizations, there are higher expectations from consumers and less patience from end-users. IT organizations can’t afford to be unresponsive and uncooperative.

IT can’t keep playing by the old ITSM ways because they’ve stopped working. I’m not the only one who feels this way. According to a survey by ITSM.tools, only 24% of respondents think that existing ITSM best practice has kept up with the changing IT and business landscapes.

However, there is still a need for service management. In fact, I’d argue that the proliferation of technology in the workplace has made service management more important than ever.

Additionally, Enterprise Service Management is gaining traction among organizations, as is new technologies, such as AI and machine learning. Both of these will require strong service management foundations.

So what is a smart IT leader to do? You can’t keep trying to make new technology fit into old ITSM frameworks – but you can’t ignore the need for frameworks and processes. You need to avoid the ghosts of ITSM and instead apply modern principles of Service Management.

Let’s talk about the ghosts of ITSM past.

Seeing ITSM as Controlling

If there’s one thing that haunts ITSM, it’s the belief that it’s all about control and rigid processes. ITIL®, one of the most popular ITSM frameworks, was introduced in the 1980s and heavily focused on processes and managing IT infrastructure. But IT has evolved over the years and it’s become less about managing infrastructure and more about keeping end-users happy and delivering effective services.

While new versions of ITIL and other methodologies, such as DevOps, have been introduced, ITSM still struggles with having a reputation for enforcing unnecessary processes.

What CIOs and IT managers must do is learn more flexible frameworks and adapt them to work with their organization. ITIL4, DevOps and VeriSM™ have all become smart options for anyone looking for adaptable approaches that focus on efficiency, collaboration, and consistency.

A “Tool-First” Mentality

Another ghost of ITSM past that tends to haunt organizations is putting the primary focus on implementing the tool and not the processes, services, or people using the tools.

A “Tool-First” mentality is an easy mistake to repeat because, well, implementing tools is exciting. It is much more exciting than developing the enabling foundational pieces. Tool vendors make a lot of promises and to be honest, those tools can enable processes and make IT more efficient.

But modern ITSM means leading with services and processes and not with the tool. Before you implement a tool, you need to define processes, how the process moves information and work from beginning to end, and what activities will be performed as part of the execution of the process. It’s also important that you define the results from the execution of the process and how those results will be delivered and who will be responsible for each activity within the process. You need to define services in terms of value co-creation and measurable outcomes, and what’s in it for the customer, the consumer, and those that deliver and support those services.

This “services, processes, and people first” mentality is going to be extremely important with the new wave of AI capabilities hitting organizations. If your enterprise is interested in implementing AI, then the smart strategy is to define the objectives, processes, and roles before investing in a new tool.

Ignoring Business Objectives

For a long time, IT organizations perhaps didn’t feel the need to be involved with the business. Their focus was to manage the technology that supported the rest of the organization and let the organization grow the business.

But IT cannot afford to sit on the sidelines of the business. 81 percent of IT leads agree that CIOs are under extreme pressure to defend their investments and prove ROI. Technology places a role in almost every part of the business these days and much of that technology impacts the end-user. Nearly all business proposals today involve a technology component that needs evaluation and the C-suite will want to understand how that investment is paying off for them. Additionally, even for technology that doesn’t involve the end-user or relate directly to sales, the C-suite will want to know the ROI of that investment.

Properly managing technology in today’s world requires an understanding of the business, being able to communicate in the language of the business, and having a clear view of how IT and technology contributes to business objectives.

Being a Barrier to Technology

There was a culture of “no” that existed within IT in the past. It was easier to shut down tool requests or service requests within the enterprise. IT was often seen as the barrier to technology. But technology is so readily available these days and organizations will no longer wait for IT to say yes to a request.

According to an ITSM.tools survey, 40% of respondents think their IT department is behind meeting employee expectations – across services, support, and customer service – versus consumer-world companies.

Smart CIOs facilitate inter-department collaboration and communication. IT needs to learn to work together with the organization to deliver services within the enterprise and to the end-user.

Additionally, beginning to embrace Enterprise Service Management and co-creating processes with other departments to improve service delivery within the organization will help position IT as a leader in this new era of service management.

I recognize that it can be uncomfortable looking back at past mistakes and the ghosts of ITSM past. However, if we don’t look back, we’ll never learn – and the great news is that IT can easily avoid these ghosts. We’re in an ITSM renaissance driven by initiatives like digital transformation and the introduction of new technologies like AI.

Revisiting your ITSM foundation, defining the roles and processes, working within business objectives, and incorporating other departments into your processes and services will help bring your IT organization into the modern world.

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Can the CIO Save The Day?

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This year has been a banner year for IT. It’s only because of IT that so many organizations could continue operating in the face of the pandemic. IT has done its job on winning over the rest of the organization and most of the organizations now know they can count on IT. According to the 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, 61% of the 4,200 IT leaders surveyed said that the pandemic has permanently increased the influence of the technology leader. So how can the CIO and IT leverage this new-found influence? How can IT become more than the team that keeps the lights on? 

I think that this new influence can help the CIO become the most valuable player on the leadership team because they’re the glue that keeps everything together.

Now, some may argue that the CIO has been thought of only as leading a support team for decades. So they could not in fact be the glue holding an organization together. But that was before the technology boom. Today, technology is a foundational component for every business. From communication to employee experience to the customer journey, technology plays an important role in every piece of every business. As the impact of technology has grown, so must the role of IT. While IT and the CIO used to only solve technology issues, they now must solve business issues because the business needs technology. 

That’s why the CIO has the opportunity that no other executive does. No other executive can impact another department as much as the CIO can.  

This is, of course, a force that can be used for good – or evil. The CIO can be the bottleneck, holding back every initiative due to poor service or inefficient workflows. But they can also be the hero of the organization: playing an integral,difference-making role in every initiative.

John Bruno, Chief Information Officer at Aon, explains that the CIO role can become “an integrator – someone that works across the entire organization.”  

So what can a CIO do begin breaking down the silos and helping other departments?

 

  1. Get out of IT and into other departments.

The biggest problem so many CIOs have is that they can’t see the forest through the trees. Or to put it in more blunt terms, they can’t overcome the IT fire-fights that come up every day to actually get out of IT to see what’s happening in the rest of the organization. It is absolutely imperative that today’s CIOs do this. If you don’t feel that you can see beyond IT issues, then you’re not going to be able to support the organization as you need to because CIOs have to be the integrator. They have to be the ones to connect the dots and it’s impossible to do without collaborating with other executives and understanding what is occurring in their departments. 

What would happen if you as the CIO were able to take 2-3 hours a week to meet with other executives to understand their initiatives – and how IT can help make those initiatives successful? What would it cost you? If your IT organization were to implode because the CIO took 2-3 hours every week to work with other departments rather than help put out IT fires, then your approach to service management needs attention. The right service management workflows and foundation ensure that IT runs smoothly and is able to serve the organization, while the CIO works to innovate other areas of the organization. If you’re struggling to even find the time to work with other departments and trust that your IT team can keep running, it’s time to clean up your service management. Book a consultation with me and we can discuss how to get started.

 

  1. Identify the impact of technology in other department initiatives 

As I said earlier, technology is the thread that ties everything together and as the CIO, you hold the thread. You should be actively looking for ways to enhance other department initiatives with technology. 

In the old days of IT, many CIOs would roll their eyes at the idea of making more work for themselves by collaborating with other departments. But today, the innovative CIO knows that it’s not about making more work for IT. It’s about unlocking opportunities for IT to step up and play a more influential role in the organization. 

That means that CIOs have to get comfortable offering suggestions and solutions to other executives. Imagine what would happen if a CIO offered to support the head of HR in automating and digitizing the employee onboarding process. Imagine HR and IT co-creating that solution together, instead of HR assuming what technology they needed or IT forcing a solution upon HR without even understanding the complexity of the problem. 

Instead of a forced solution where neither side is happy, everyone would walk away with a collaborative outcome that improved the business overall.

And this isn’t just an HR opportunity. The CIO could do this for every other department.  Because you as the CIO are the expert in technology, you can offer your expertise to every area of the organization. 

 

How to Get Started

First, before you start working with any other department, you need to be certain that IT can operate efficiently. That means optimizing workflows and identifying any gaps in your service delivery. You can’t offer value to anyone else without first cleaning up your own department. (And if you need help, that’s my specialty! Book a consultation here.)

Once you’ve done that, begin forming partnerships with other executives. Invite them to ongoing meetings to learn about their initiatives and technology needs. If you approach this partnership as an opportunity for their department to achieve their initiatives faster and with less resistance from IT, then they are going to be onboard with working with you. 

Slowly but surely, you can begin to work with every department in this manner and before you know it, the CIO has not only elevated the status of IT but also the entire organization. 

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Working From Home Is Only The Beginning: What is the Future of Service Management?

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I have said before that we are entering into a service management renaissance. Now that we are 9 months into the whirlwind of 2020, I’m even more convinced.

IT has been in the spotlight this year and for good reason. When the pandemic caused organizations to send employees home to work this past spring, IT was faced with a herculean task – and it stepped up. IT had to do most of the heavy lifting when businesses rapidly shifted to a work from home (WFH) model. IT organizations across the globe scrambled to equip their organizations so it could continue operations. 

Not enough laptop computers or product licenses to support WFH needs?  Buy some.  Not enough VPN or cloud storage capacity?  Buy more. 

Many IT organizations have experienced huge wins this year.  IT was appreciated – even cheered – by many, as technology-enabled organizations to continue operations as close-to-normal as possible in a completely remote environment. 

But as the novelty of WFH has started to wane, the full impact of this new normal has become more real.  Many organizations, faced with the significant costs associated with the shift to WFH, coupled with significant declines in revenues, had no choice but to reduce budgets.  Included in these budget cuts were reductions to the IT budget – the very organization that kept those businesses in business. 

The question now is “what happens next?

How do organizations successfully adapt to doing business in a WFH world? How do employees get the support they need when that support is no longer a quick trip down the hall?  How do organizations turn the unanticipated technology expenses resulting from the pandemic into investments that co-create value?

Enter service management.  Or perhaps more appropriately, it’s time to up your service management game. 

Admittedly, it is not the scenario that I had envisioned as the basis of the renaissance.  But if ever service management must become an organizational capability, the time is now. 

Here’s my prediction for the future of service management in a post-pandemic world:

Employee Experience is Now Non-Negotiable 

There is no returning to the previous “normal”,  but this isn’t just about organizations working remotely. It’s about leveraging the technology to create an exceptional employee experience. Users might not be able to simply stomp down to the IT department demanding assistance from the service desk. 

Organizations must step up their service management games to enable and deliver products, services, and workflows that result in frictionless, positive employee experiences. 

Collaboration and communication between service providers (not just IT, but other parts of the organization as well, such as HR and others) and consumers are going to be essential for success. Leaders will need to make sure their teams have in place communication structures so they can work with their team members to understand how technology is enabling the employee experience and identify any gaps in that service. 

The technology will matter less than how the technology is being used

In the past, many organizations invested in technology with the hope that it would be the savior for whatever business challenges they faced.  But one of the lessons from COVID-19 is that technology alone doesn’t deliver the long-term value organizations need.  In other words, technology is useless if it is not managed appropriately, with sufficient structure, processes, competencies, and a clear understanding of how the use of technology results in valuable business outcomes

Technology has always been looked upon as a quick fix and that is especially true in the case of the pandemic. Throwing technology at the problem worked at the beginning of the pandemic because we were looking for short term solutions, anything that would get people up and running quickly.  Now, IT organizations are dealing with tight budgets and an increased demand for technology. The easy answer may have been to  simply invest in more technology. But just adding more technology is just a band-aid for the problem. 

The successful use of technology depends significantly on the people using it and how it’s being used. The future of service management is going to rely on not just providing the technology but more importantly, truly understanding how that technology contributes to business outcomes. 

In many ways, this is a win for organizations because it’s always easier to develop existing capability than develop new. Now is the time for IT leaders to begin cataloging the technology already in use, the services that are provided, the processes in place for it, and what’s working and what’s not. Begin to leverage what you have so you can identify opportunities for growth. 

Service Management Processes Must Become Business Management Processes

Now, the truth is that if you are already taking a holistic approach to service management, you already know this. 

If you’re only using service management for managing the IT parts of a value stream, you’re missing the real opportunity for IT.  And even worse, you’re probably leaking value.

How value flows through an organization matters more than ever. Times are tight and they might be for a while. We are paying for the pandemic and we will probably be feeling the impact of that for months and perhaps years to come. 

Every part of the organization has to drive value. IT cannot do that without working holistically with every other part of the business. This requires a huge uplevel from IT. IT must integrate itself with the business (whether it’s in person or remotely), understand the role the services and technology it provides plays in driving and co-creating value.  

It’s not just about collaborating to provide technology to complete an initiative, it’s about integrating so that initiative is as successful as possible. IT must begin to recognize where and how value flows through the organization and most importantly, how it flows to the service consumer! 

Leaders can start to integrate service management processes with business management processes by identifying how value flows through the organization and how technology assists in that value reaching the consumer. By paying attention to the larger needs of the consumer and the goals of the business, IT will be able to seamlessly combine both processes so each supports the other. 

The new world for service management 

I think my view of the future of service management might come as a surprise to some.  Perhaps my holistic view of service management is different than how you’ve viewed it.  But I am convinced that if you take this approach, then you’re better positioned not only to deal with the fallout from the pandemic but also better lead your organization into the future.  

Are you looking for assistance in adjusting your service management approach to this new world? Book a free consultation.  

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Outcomes vs Outputs: The Real Proof of IT’s Value

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The typical workday looks much different today than it did just a few months ago. Instead of driving to work and walking into the building, employees are going online and signing in to their messaging or collaboration tools.

Instead of physically taking a document to a client for a signature, they’re being sent digitally for electronic signatures.

Instead of popping into an office, managers are checking in with employees via texts, instant messages, and video calls.

As many businesses continue to work remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that technology is keeping the business together. Because of this, IT has to move into a more strategic role. For years, experts have been advising IT leaders to take their seat at the strategy table and be involved in the larger business decisions. Many IT leaders have jumped at this opportunity while others have struggled to figure out how to demonstrate IT’s ability to be more than a support function.

This shift of IT from a support function into a strategic partner can start with a simple shift. The shift from focusing on outputs to outcomes can make a world of difference for IT organizations.

Outcomes vs. Outputs

Let’s begin by addressing the difference between outputs and outcomes.

Outputs are the actions or activities that an IT organization completes. They are quantitative and easily measured.

Outputs could include:

  • Moving files and documents into the cloud
  • Closing tickets in record times
  • Installing new technology

Many IT organizations measure outputs as a way to illustrate their productivity and value. The thinking is that the more outputs they complete, the more the rest of the business will see IT as being valuable.

While outputs are important, outputs only tell part of the story. The real measure of value is the outcomes that are enabled by those outputs. Outcomes are the results that the business wants or needs to achieve.

Outcomes are business objectives such as:

  • Increased market share
  • Higher customer satisfaction scores
  • Increased profits

For example, the outcome of moving computing capability to the cloud is a more mobile and flexible work environment. The output enables the outcome. For every output IT is completing, the CIO must know and communicate what the business is now able to do as a result, or outcome, of that output.

That means before listing an output on a project list, IT managers must ask: “What outcome is this going to enable?

By doing this, you can cut down on the amount of busywork or projects that are not contributing to the bottom line. It will also show what outputs are ineffective. In some cases, IT delivers an output that doesn’t enable or deliver any real business outcomes. If this is the case, you’ll need to review the output and determine if it is truly needed.

This shift may also show that some of your metrics and KPIs are ineffective ways of measuring IT’s performance. For example, if your team has a high first-contact resolution rate but employees are still reporting poor service, then the first-contact resolution rate isn’t a good indicator of your performance.

How to Make This Shift

What do IT leaders need to do this to make this shift in their organizations?

Build Business Relationships
IT leaders need to understand the outcomes the business wants to achieve. They should seek out key stakeholders and have regular conversations about their technology needs and their goals and objectives. This will allow IT leaders to begin to see the end-to-end value of their outputs and initiatives.

Define and Map Services
Once you know the desired outcomes, you can map IT services to them. Map how the outcomes of your services connect to business objectives.

Measure Outcomes
It’s not enough to simply list off the number of outputs your team completes each month. Engage your stakeholders to identify outcomes and how an output contributes to an outcome.

The Future of IT

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that IT has no choice but to evolve now. The way we work will be changed forever. Even when businesses return to the office, there will be different expectations around flexibility and how technology enables flexible mobile workforces. The business will want to be prepared for the future, should anything like this happen again and they’ll be looking at IT to help plan and prepare for those possibilities.

CIOs and IT leaders must approach their goals and initiatives differently if they want to rightfully play a leadership role in their organizations. Connecting IT outputs to business outcomes enables IT leaders to help shape the future of their organizations.

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ITSM is More Than Just Numbers on a Spreadsheet

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This article was inspired by Mel Kerner, whose insightful comments on a recent LinkedIn post of mine started my wheels turning about the heart of service delivery.

Measuring and demonstrating the business value of IT is one of the biggest struggles for CIOs and IT leaders. There are thousands of articles, webinars, and commentary on how to demonstrate the business value of IT (I’ve even written quite a few of those articles!).

There are endless equations of metrics, KPIs, budgets, and technology that one can put together to demonstrate the value of ITSM. CIOs are hyper-focused on that bottom line. What does the IT line on the spreadsheet say about you and your organization?

That’s always the question, isn’t it? I’m not here to argue that CIOs don’t have to prove the financial sense behind their decisions on investments and projects, but I am going to pose another question:

What is at the heart of your service delivery?

I can see some of you rolling your eyes at this vague question that can’t be answered with metrics or financial projections. But I think we need to ask it because there is a goal of ITSM that can’t be measured with specific metrics or financial projections.

People, processes, technology… every IT leader has strategized over these 3 words. They are the 3 parts of every ITSM initiative.

We can measure how much technology is costing or saving the business. We can create baselines from which to measure the improvement of the effectiveness of our processes.

We can’t effectively measure the importance of people. We can capture metrics like call volumes and incident response times, but that doesn’t measure the service being provided. It doesn’t accurately demonstrate the importance of that service to the end-user – or to the organization.

This is important because sometimes everything adds up on paper, but IT is still struggling. Sometimes all of the financial plans make sense and the team is hitting its goals for all of its metrics, but users are still unhappy and service is still poor.

This is a very real disconnect occurring in organizations today. According to PWC, 90% of C-suite executives say their technology choices deliver what employees need. But 50% of employees disagree.

Is IT really delivering services if half of the organization don’t believe they have the technology for what they need? Even when the numbers on the spreadsheet are adding up, if the people in the organization are not satisfied and able to do their jobs, IT is not doing its job.

Impeccable service delivery starts with understanding how much that service delivery means to the most important part of service management: the people.

Do service desk agents understand the true value of solving a user’s technology problem? Do they fully grasp the frustration that arises when a piece of technology is getting in the way of someone doing their job?

Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between employee experience and company performance. It’s no wonder why employee experience has become one of the hottest topics in business today. For IT leaders, this is an opportunity. They can use this focus on employee experience to remind their teams what is at the heart of service delivery.

Consider author Simon Sinek’s famous quote: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Does your IT team understand the “why” behind their metrics?

For example, why is response time important?

Is it important because it’s a box to check off? Or is it important because a service desk agent providing a timely response is able to return a user to their job faster so that they can complete their own work faster. And completing their work faster may mean they are responding to a client faster, closing a sales deal faster, or they’re able to start another project. A timely response time helps a user be better, faster, and more efficient at their job.

Or why is recurring incidents an important metric?

Is it important because it’s annoying for the service desk agent to have to solve recurring incidents? Or is it important because recurring incidents damage the reputation of the IT organization and are a frustration for the user? It can cause their mood and productivity to plummet which can then impact their interactions with customers and colleagues. It can even impact their interactions outside of the office. If you’ve had a frustrating day at work, you may end up bringing that home. The service desk can impact that!

IT leaders must talk with end-users about their experiences with IT. They should investigate the pain points users experience when their service calls are poor and the satisfaction they feel when their work is uninterrupted and technology actually makes their jobs easier.

There needs to be a bigger “why” for IT beyond just collecting metrics and impacting bottom lines. There needs to be a heart to your service delivery and it may be as simple as this: Better service delivery improves the day to day lives of your end-users.

Why does all this even matter if you can’t measure it?

The work IT does is often misunderstood and unappreciated. Most service desk agents won’t be thanked by end-users. Feeling unappreciated and inefficient will lead to burned-out agents who deliver subpar service and that can create a ripple effect. Service management is directly related to employee experience, which is directly related to company performance.

The IT leader must constantly remind the IT team why good service delivery matters. IT leaders need to take the steps to dig into the true “can’t-be-measured” heart of service delivery and communicate that to their teams. Ask the hard questions, dig into how users use services and technology to enable business outcomes, and start capturing and pointing out those immeasurable wins, just as often as you count the measurable wins.

At the end of the day, the numbers at the bottom of the spreadsheet will still matter. But the real story of IT goes far beyond the numbers on the spreadsheet. The real story is the one that’s told and heard throughout the floors away from the C-suite. It’s the story that really matters- the story of the employee’s experience.

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Future-Proofing Higher Education With Employee Experience

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Higher education is facing many obstacles. The entire industry has shifted over the last few years and many higher education institutions are having to adjust how they operate to meet those changes. This article will explore how employee experience and good service management can help higher education institutions overcome those obstacles.

The Changes in Higher Education

One of the biggest changes in higher education is the shifting student demographic. Just a few years ago, student populations were made up of 18-22-year-olds, who lived on campus, went to school full-time, and were working toward a 4-year degree. Today, many students are adult learners, part-time students or taking classes completely online. Many individuals are questioning whether a traditional higher education degree is worth the financial burden and are opting out of traditional higher education altogether.

Additionally, students on campus are dealing with different struggles than past students. Many students are forced to balance multiple jobs while in school to make ends meet. This has resulted in students struggling with increased financial pressure and higher education has become plagued with mental health problems.

And on top of all of those changes, higher education is struggling with decreased funding, increased competition, and budget cuts. Higher education institutions must find innovative and cost-effective ways to engage current, prospective, and past students. The best, easiest and smartest way to do that is by engaging their employees.

The Need for Engaged Employees

Perhaps most worrisome among higher education institutions is that they are struggling with employee engagement. Simply stated – many higher education faculty and staff members are not engaged. Gallup performed a detailed study on employee engagement across several industries. After performing 258 million interviews including 75,000 with faculty and staff members, Gallup found that just 34% of faculty and staff within higher education are engaged at work. This engagement score is lower than most of the industries that Gallup measures.

Unengaged employees could be costing institutions at the bottom line. The faculty are often the institution’s frontline for their students. An engaged faculty can provide students with tools they need to overcome the obstacles they’re facing, which will not only help students stay at the institution, but can help create a dedicated and successful alumni network.

Also, engaged employees are more likely to stay at the institution. Studies have shown that focusing on employee engagement can result in better retention rates and cost savings over time. In fact, according to the American Council on Education, Iowa State University estimates an average savings of more than $83,000 per faculty member retained when engagement practices are applied. Employee turnover can be costly – so imagine how much that adds up over time when good faculty members are retained!

The Institution’s Role in Employee Experience

The question is what can the institution do to support employee experience? Mike Bollinger, global AVP of thought leadership and advisory services for Cornerstone OnDemand notes, “Faculty and staff members help create the student experience, and it’s up to the institution to provide their employees with the learning curriculum, professional development opportunities and recognition they deserve to help both higher education employees and their students succeed.”

Higher education institutions can leverage technology and services to create a better employee experience that includes professional development, learning opportunities, and better operational management.

Digital is an obvious choice for most of these experiences. Higher institutions are already successfully implementing digital-first experiences like digital workflows, online onboarding, training programs, and online learning management systems.

But future-proofing higher education with employee experience requires more than creating digital-first experiences. Technology alone won’t guarantee an exceptional employee experience. Good service management is necessary. The service management I’m referring to is not just IT service management. I’m referring to the holistic approach of delivering value through the use of services, based on the use of technology. Some refer to this as Enterprise Service Management. Whether you call it Enterprise Service Management, service management, or IT service management, one thing needs to remain the same: you must focus on how organizations can co-create value and then deliver that value using technology.

What can higher education leaders do to create exceptional employee experiences?

Institutions must acknowledge the silos that exist among their faculty and staff before they can begin to consider the technological needs. Silos are culturally embedded in higher education institutions. There are silos between faculty and staff. There are silos among adjuncts, full-time professors and tenured professors, as well as, silos among departments. Working to create open lines of communication and to empower the entire institution to collaborate to run higher education as a business. It’s important that both faculty and staff adapt their thinking and actions in terms of value and outcomes instead of activities and things.

This is where IT can take the lead within an institution. Higher education CIOs can work with the rest of the institution to understand the overall goals and determine how technology can help the institution meet those goals.

There are two steps a CIO can take to begin this process.

Identify, map, and manage value streams
When a CIO maps value streams across the institution and identifies where technology is used to support those value streams, they can begin to identify and eliminate redundant spending and waste. They can also begin to find process improvements that can support better employee experience.

Establish an experience center
An experience center is a little like an expanded IT service desk. It is a single point of contact for reporting and managing service issues. Successful experience centers have well-defined processes supporting defined value streams. The experience center can benefit both the student and the faculty and staff as it supports the entire engagement lifecycle of both the students and the faculty. It reduces any frustrations or problems using technology so they can be quickly solved.

Higher education is evolving and the evolution isn’t going to slow down any time soon. While there are many questions about the future of higher education, one thing that remains certain is that the time is now to engage employees and strengthen the brand, operations and bottom line of an institution. This approach of addressing and improving the employee experience of faculty and staff on the front line can create a ripple effect that will leave the end-users, the students, feeling satisfied, cared for and supported by their institutions.

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What Should Your Customer Experience Look Like & How Do You Get There?

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Recently, I’ve been sharing about customer expectations and while understanding those expectations is important, you also have to have a plan for how to meet those expectations.

I am referring to the customer experience, of course. The customer experience includes every touchpoint a customer has as they interact with a brand. Customer experience has always been important. But as the world grows increasingly digital, brands are tasked with understanding and mapping the multi-channel experience that customers go through with brands.

And there’s a reason companies spend time, money and effort on mapping and optimizing these experiences. In short: they matter. Forrester found that from 2011 to 2015, revenues for companies that scored near the top of the Forrester CX Index™ outgrew the group of companies that scored poorly by more than 5 to 1.

As brands become focused on the customer experience, they are turning to a new ally, who previously has not been involved in customer experience: the CIO.

The CIO & The Customer Experience

Historically, the CIO has had little to do with the customer experience. The business leaders like sales, marketing and business development would meet to map out the experience and then, they’d ask IT to build what they needed to create that experience. But times have changed.

In a recent KPMG Survey, more than half of the CIOs surveyed reported that enhancing the customer experience is the most important business issue that boards want IT to work on.

The fact is, the CIO needs to be involved with the customer experience these days. CIOs understand the technical limitations of new technologies as well as understand current in-house capabilities. Instead of the business guessing what is possible, IT needs to work with them to create solutions that are achievable.

What A Quality Customer Experience Looks Like?

The question is, of course, what does a quality customer experience look like? If we refer back to the emerging customer expectations that I discussed in this article, a few things become clear.

The first is that customers want a “contextual, intuitive and experiential engagement.” Another way to phrase this is to design a low-effort experience.

What’s a low effort experience? To answer that, let’s first look at a high effort experience.

A customer calls a customer service line. They have the option to wait on hold for an undetermined amount of time or to have the company call them back when it’s their turn. The customer chooses to wait on hold. They wait on hold for 17 minutes when a representative finally gets on the line, asking for the person’s information. The customer then waits another minute while the representative pulls up their information and asks what the problem is. The customer explains their issue. The representative provides a textbook response that doesn’t meet the customer’s needs. The customer asks for another resolution. The representative tells them they have to transfer them to a manager. The customer then waits another few minutes on hold. Once transferred, the manager again asks for the customer’s information and the customer again waits while the manager pulls up their file. The manager tries to provide the same answer the representative does but the customer asks for another resolution. After a few minutes of back and forth, the manager tells them they will try to find another solution and that they’ll email them with a solution within a few days after they have spoken to the appropriate department.

This may sound convoluted but it happens all of the time! I’m sure many of us have encountered similar experiences when dealing with customer service problems. Consider what the customer has to endure during this exchange: multiple wait times, hearing the same information repeated, resolution to be delivered in a different format than the initial exchange. In other words, it’s a high-effort experience for the customers. According to Gartner, 96% of customers who encounter this type of interaction will become disloyal to a company.

The trick to creating low-effort experiences is to lead with the benefits or solutions to customers’ problems over the technology.

For example, if your customers want faster issue resolution, then your organization should turn to real-time text or voice chatbot that is readily accessible for customers at scale.

If customers need more information prior to purchase, consider enhancing your mobile experience or incorporating augmented reality tools so customers can visualize products in their offices or homes.

If your customers want a more personalized experience, focusing on consumer data collection and organization will be your best priority.

There is no one size fits all to delivering exceptional customer experience. It’s about listening to your consumers, paying attention to their needs and then, creating services, incorporating technology and designing processes to fit those needs.

How To Get There?

To point you in the right direction of how to create exceptional customer experiences, I am going to end this article with a question:

How do you think employee experience shapes the customer experience?

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Doug Tedder is a panelist on BrightTalk’s “ITSM in 2020: Experts’ Predictions” webinar

December 3, 2019:  Doug Tedder, principal consultant of Tedder Consulting LLC, will appear as a panelist on the December 12 BrightTalk webinar “ITSM in 2020:  Experts’ Predictions”.

Doug joins Claire Agutter,  Director of Scopism and ITSM Zone, and Roy Atkinson,  Senior Writer/Analyst for ICMI and HDI of InformaTech on the panel to discuss what 2020 will mean to ITSM.

The webcast airs at 11:00am ET on December 12. 2019.  To register for the webcast, visit https://tinyurl.com/v64ahf3 .