Tag Archives: service definition

4 Surprising Reasons ITSM Really is for SMBs

Share twitterlinkedinmail

There is a nasty rumor going around the IT world about ITSM. Some professionals and organizations think that ITSM is nothing more than a bureaucratic mess of processes that only inhibits productivity and can only be effectively implemented by large organizations.

But we’re going to let you in on a secret: Good ITSM is every SMBs secret weapon.

ITSM doesn’t have to be complicated. After all, ITSM is simply a set of defined practices for implementing, managing and delivering IT services that meet the needs of the organization.

Good ITSM looks like:

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

Now, that doesn’t exactly sound like something that is is only beneficial for large companies, does it?

While many people recognize the benefits of great ITSM, let’s talk specifically why ITSM is great for  SMBs.

1. Customer Experience

Customer expectations have drastically changed over the last few years due in part to new technologies. Customers expect real-time responses, personalized journeys and continual innovation from businesses. 

Let’s take Amazon as an example. You may think that customers shop at Amazon simply because it’s Amazon. While that may be the case now; originally, customers started shopping with Amazon because Amazon made it convenient to shop with them. Amazon started doing things like offering personalized shopping requests, providing immediate shipping notifications and maintaining a responsive customer service. An “Amazon experience” is now the customer expectation with every business.

Of course, most small businesses run with limited staff, so “Amazon-like” expectations may be difficult for SMBs to meet. 

That’s where ITSM comes in. ITSM helps SMBs provide faster and more reliable services without requiring extra manpower. In the end, it means a smoother, more cohesive customer experience without extra overhead from a bigger staff. 

2. Agility 

The business world is incredibly competitive. Technology has enabled every business to move faster and grow quicker. If you’re not ahead of the curve, you’re already falling behind – so agility is an absolute requirement for SMBs. 

ITSM helps organizations to structure their workflows so the most pressing and important needs are handled quickly. ITSM helps eliminate distractions and nagging problems that constantly need to be fixed and it helps teams stay focused on the outcomes that help the business get ahead and stay ahead. 

3. ITSM can be easier to implement at SMBs

As we addressed above, SMBs must be agile and nimble in order to keep up with their competition. SMBs must focus on the projects and services that will drive revenue and grow the business bottomline.

Because of this, SMBs are uniquely suited to see wins from ITSM faster than larger companies do. In an SMB, teams are smaller and they must work together more frequently on the most valuable and important projects. They often see the results of their efforts more directly than those working in large organizations.

Therefore, there are fewer people to convince to support ITSM implementation, fewer instances of siloed-thinking to overcome, and a greater understanding of how everyone works together.

4. Your budget will take you further.

Contrary to many myths, ITSM is not about the newest and greatest tool. It is about creating process and workflows so that the entire organization works better to enable a seamless customer experience.

Creating efficient processes and well-defined services ensures that your business is growing at a healthy scale. When you have the right processes and clear services, you can rest assured your team is focused on driving business. So that when it becomes time for you to grow and hire more team members, it will be because the business is growing, not because your team is too busy and stressed out but not actually driving business.     

Additionally, great ITSM doesn’t start with the tool. It starts with focusing first on business needs and then identifying and defining the needed processes, services and workflows to meet those business needs. By starting from this perspective, you will avoid wasting money on tools that will never support your business. You will know that when you do invest in a tool, it will work within the processes you’ve already defined and it will be used correctly 

How to Start to Implement ITSM In Your SMB?

If you are ready to begin implementing ITSM, it’s important that you start by answering some questions. This will help you have a clear understanding of how ITSM can fit into your business. 

Remember what we mentioned above, ITSM is not about buying the latest and greatest tool! Avoid diving straight in with purchasing a fancy tool – start with the defining service and the needed processes! 

Avoid the common mistake of messing up ITSM before you even get started with it! The answers to these questions will help you much more than any expensive tool will at this stage of your ITSM journey.

  • Identify how does your business utilize or depend upon technology? 
  • What are common activities that your team performs in supporting your business in its use of technology?
  • Are you able to measure the contribution that technology brings to your business?  Are you able to measure and discuss how your IT team contributes to business success – in business-relevant terms?
  • What could be done differently in how IT contributes to business success?
  • What small improvements could result in big wins for your company? 

Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to start learning about the different ITSM frameworks and how you can get started with it. Attend webinars and user group meetings to learn what good ITSM can do for your business, talk to experts, or read blogs and white papers about the best way to get started with ITSM.

It’s the beginning of the year and many SMBs are still bright-eyed with big goals and exciting plans and timelines, so now is the time to get ahead of your timeline and ensure that you hit every goal you have this year!

Share twitterlinkedinmail

Four Steps for finding your misplaced Service Owner

Share twitterlinkedinmailHas your IT organization defined services and named service owners?

Have you identified the right person as the service owner?

How do you know?

Let’s start from the beginning

What is a “service”?

According to ITIL®, a service is “a means of delivering value to a customer by facilitating the outcomes that a customer wants without the ownership of [specific] costs and risks”.[1]

A service is not a discrete unit of delivery, but an on-demand flow that is (should be) continually improved to deliver the outcomes required by the ever-changing needs of business.

A key service role is that of the service owner. The service owner “owns” the service – that is, the service owner is accountable for the quality of outcomes resulting from the consumption and use of the service.

Many organizations have identified IT people as its “service owners”.

But who decides if a service is delivering the desired outcomes? Who decides if the service quality is adequate and appropriate? The customer.

That confusing “customer thing”

Who is the customer?

That’s the thing that seems to cause all kinds of confusion within organizations – the term “customer”.

Who is the customer?

  • The ultimate buyer of solutions.
  • The ultimate judge of quality and outcomes.
  • Who the business is trying to entice and retain in the buying of the products and services.

This means that for many services, IT can’t be service owner.

If the service is an “IT service” – that is, the service is provided by IT and consumed within an organization, then yes, someone in IT is (better be!) the “service owner”. But many services that involve the use of technology result in outcomes that are delivered externally – to the true customer. This means that a lot of IT’s work is done in support of delivering value to a customer that is outside of the business.

But typically, IT is not directly involved in interactions with the customer.

Finding the (true) Service Owner

So, who is the service owner? How about the value stream owner?

In their book “Value Stream Mapping”, Martin and Osterling define a value stream as being “the sequence of activities required to design, product, and deliver a good or service to a customer, and it includes the dual flows of information and material”.[2] They also describe a “value stream champion” as “someone who’s accountable for the performance of the entire value stream. In a hierarchical organization, [this person] is a step or two closer to the work than the executive sponsor”.[3]

ValueStreamGlobal.com describes the role of a value stream owner (VSO) as “an experienced manager or executive servant leader who is accountable to senior management for improving the value to non-value ration of a product family within an enterprise”.[4] Among the responsibilities of the VSO are[5]:

  • Ensuring the Value Stream itself is correctly identified, defined, mapped, optimized, managed, and improved over time…. Including specific definition of the product/service family and related components
  • Coordinate with business functional areas that contribute to the creation of value in the flow.
  • Demonstrate to senior management that the outputs of the value stream are competitive in the marketplace and meet current customer* demand. The value stream must be able to quickly adapt to changing market conditions.
  • Maintain a holistic view of the organization and understand where in the large scheme of things their value stream fits… includes not sacrificing one area for the sake of optimizing another, but to optimize the whole.

“Value stream owner” …. sounds like a “service owner” to me.

Why IT isn’t (always) the Service Owner

If the service owner owns a service from end-to-end; that is, from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption, this means that (in most cases) the service owner cannot reside within IT. While IT may manage and perform activities as part of service delivery and support, IT cannot possibly own a service from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption. Why? Because IT does not have customers – the business does.

IT typically acts upon business needs. Rarely (if ever!) does IT lead business initiatives or interact directly with the (true) customer.

Therefore, the value stream owner must be the service owner. IT’s role may be that of service manager (responsible for particular aspects of the daily operation of a service), but in the situations where value and outcomes are realized by the true customer, IT cannot be the service owner. IT controls only a portion of any given value stream involving the true customer. If IT tries to take ownership of services for which it cannot adequately or appropriately be accountable, it is setting both itself and its business colleagues up to fail.

But on the other hand, since IT does own “IT services”, then IT cannot be passive and wait for something to happen or for someone else to provide IT with its “marching orders” regarding those services. IT must step up and take ownership – in the complete context. This means making the tough decisions like investing in security versus the risk of getting hacked. This means decommissioning infrastructure from the environment as services transition to a retired state.   As the owner for IT services, IT must drive value add, eliminate non-value-added activities, and also drive efforts that are necessary but non-value add – and live with the consequences of those decisions.

But the same applies for any service owner, not just IT service owners. A service owner must drive value added activities, eliminate non-value-added activities, and drive efforts that are necessary but non-value add. And live with those decisions.

That might be a different way of thinking for some. For some, it may be downright scary.

Because with ownership comes accountability and great responsibility.

What’s in the way?

The idea of a service owner being outside of the IT organization may be a bit scary to some. What’s in the way?

  • Attitude – Sometimes the thinking is that if it’s anything involving to technology, it is automatically an “IT issue”. Or conversely, if a colleague didn’t request a feature or ask the right question, then that’s a “business issue”. Organizations must look holistically at how value is created and delivered – there is no room for a “us and them” attitude.
  • Fear of losing control – Sometimes the IT organization feels that if it doesn’t own services, they will no longer have control. The fact is IT really never has been in control. Yes, IT is a part of nearly every value stream – but cannot own all value streams from end to end. It isn’t (should never have been) about control – it is about collaboration.
  • Lack of acumen – There’s often a ‘lack of acumen’ within the organization. IT often lacks business acumen – an understanding how the business works, what influences the business, or understanding the environment in which the business competes. Business colleagues often lack technical acumen – how technology works, how technology could be or is currently used within the organization, or are intimidated by technology.
  • Lack of clarity regarding the value stream – While many may have a deep understanding regarding their particular contributions to a value stream, often there are only a few that have an understanding of the end-to-end view of the value stream.
  • Services really weren’t defined – Rather describe services in terms of value and outcomes, “services” were defined as activities and things.

Four steps for finding misplaced Service Owners

Here’s my four-step approach for identifying and enabling the success of service owners.

  1. Identify and map value streams – Identify and document how value flows through an organization. Mapping the value streams provides a holistic view of the organization.
  2. Identify the value stream owner – While many contribute, who ultimately is accountable for the delivery and quality of the value stream?
  3. Understand the relationship between technology and the value stream – This provides the context for services and where IT “fits”.
  4. Define the service portfolio – Captures how technology underpins and enables value streams and enables fact-based decision-making.

Taking these steps will remove barriers within organizations by depicting how the members of the business work together to deliver value. It also moves the business to act as a complete business – not collections of parts – by enabling the mindset shift to “our value streams”.

In the digital era, all parts of the organization must work together seamlessly to deliver true customer value, and identifying the true  service owner is critical to value delivery.  Our Organizational Value Stream mapping workshop helps you visualize how value flows through your organization, so you can identify the true service owner, correct where there may be bottlenecks and missing handoffs,  and ensure smooth interactions with your customers in the digital age.

For more pragmatic advice and service management insight, click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

Photo credit:  Pixabay

[1] “ITIL® Service Strategy”. TSO, 2011. London. P. 13

[2] Martin, Karen and Mike Osterling. “Value Steam Mapping”. McGraw Hill Education. 2014. New York.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://valuestreamglobal.com retrieved 2/13/2018.

[5] Ibid

*There’s that word again!Share twitterlinkedinmail

The Importance of Good ITSM in the Digital Economy

Share twitterlinkedinmailThe digital economy is upon us.

Regardless of industry, businesses are experiencing the impact of the digital economy.  In the digital economy, the “store” is always open and customers expect that systems are “always on”.  Customers can (and will) do business whenever and from wherever they want – using any internet-accessible device.   Customers expect a differentiated, frictionless experience that provides value.  Encountering system downtime or unavailability simply is out of the question.

What does this mean for IT?  Simple – in the digital economy, the role of IT within an organization is more critical than ever.

The critical role of IT

IT has a critical role as an organization prepares for the digital economy. In the digital economy, the technology managed and delivered by IT is the crucial connector between a business and its customers.

But is the business ready to effectively leverage that technology and enter the digital economy?  Is your IT organization ready? Maybe not.

One of the significant challenges presented by the onset of the digital economy is that many businesses don’t understand their processes.  As a result, the details of how work flows within an organization is unclear.  Critical systems are disjointed, resulting in bottlenecks and needless delay. IT finds itself trying to glue these poorly designed (or non-existent!) business processes together by throwing technology at the issue.   Compounding the situation is that IT processes are often no better – IT processes are poorly designed, poorly documented, or even worse – non-existent. IT itself works as a collection of disjointed parts, with no clarity how work flows through the IT organization.

Yet, IT – good IT – is critical for the digital economy.

Can the IT organization move beyond acting as an ‘order taker’ and become the innovator, leader, and partner that businesses need in the digital economy? Can IT help business understand how work flows through an organization?  How can IT proactively work within the business to eliminate bottlenecks?  How can IT help the business deliver better business?

Good ITSM can help.

Hallmarks of Good ITSM

What does good ITSM look like?   Here are some attributes of good ITSM:

  • Reliability, consistency, repeatability – Businesses and their customers can depend on the services delivered by the IT organization.
  • Measurable contribution to business value – The contribution from the IT organization delivers agreed business value quantified by relevant, meaningful measures.
  • Defined and documented services that underpin how value flows through the organization, and enables businesses to make informed decisions about investments in IT.
  • Data-driven, efficient processes – Data, not human intervention, drives process execution and improvements.

Where many of today’s ITSM implementations frequently fall short

Unfortunately, many of today’s ITSM implementations have fallen short for a myriad of reasons:

  • ITSM was driven as an “IT initiative” and not a “business initiative”. To the rest of the business, ITSM investments were monies thrown into a black hole, with little to no identifiable business value in return.
  • ITSM implementation was driven from a “tool first” approach, rather than from a business value and outcomes approach. Tools were purchased and implemented in the hopes of a “quick fix” for IT delivery issues, without first understanding the business challenges.
  • The myth that ITSM is an “IT Operations only” or “Service Desk” thing and not part of business strategy or service and product design. What part of today’s business doesn’t have at least some reliance on the use of technology?  None.  Technology use is a critical factor in the realization of business strategy as products and services are delivered.  Then how could ITSM ever have been approached as an “IT operations only” initiative?
  • IT Services – how IT supports business value chains – were not identified or defined. Rather, “IT Services” were published as a list of things that IT does, like reset passwords or setup new PCs, reinforcing the notion of “IT as order taker”.

Such ITSM implementations are not ready to take on the demands of the digital economy.  Because of this, internal IT organizations are at risk of being “left out” as business is forced to move ahead with other technology providers.

How service management must evolve to meet the demands of the digital economy

Good ITSM, however, isn’t quite enough to meet the demands of the digital economy.  ITSM implementations have typically been inwardly focused.  In the digital economy, good service management principles still apply, but the focus of ITSM must shift to an external, “outside in” approach – looking at customer experience.  How should service management evolve?

  • IT must shift from a “department” to a “capability”. IT must take on a leadership role and help business successfully exploit its technology capabilities. This means that IT must improve its business acumen and lead business process designs and improvements, leveraging ITSM principles.
  • Service management must shift from being an “IT thing” to the way that business fully utilizes all parts of the organization. ITSM principles can help by helping business understand the complete value stream – how work moves through the entire organization to deliver value both to the customer and for the business.

Get Service Management Ready for the Digital Economy

The digital economy requires a holistic and collaborative effort from all parts of the organization.  No single department alone can experience success without support and interaction from the other parts of the organization.  Looking at a business from an “outside in” perspective, the customer does business with the business – not an individual part of the business.  Effective service management will help a business act and present itself as a holistic entity and not a collection of parts.    Here are four things to do to get service management ready for the digital economy:

  • Identify and map value streams. Don’t just look at the IT contribution, but the complete value stream – how value flows through the organization.  Identify what parts of the organization – sales, manufacturing, distribution, IT – are involved in delivering value. Mapping value streams helps identify services, and also helps align the organization along common goals.
  • Identify and eliminate waste in current processes. Any waste – bottlenecks, variability, delay – will inhibit automation of processes and negatively impact the customer experience.  Needless manual intervention is typically indicative of a lack of defined processes and not a need for human judgement.
  • Identify and collect comprehensive service measures. Many current service management implementations only measure and report technology-centric measures. Service measures must quantify and report on the business value and outcomes delivered by the service – not just some of the components of a service.  Relating measures to the organization’s mission, vision, and goals is a good way to ensure measures are business-relevant.
  • Understand the customer experience. One way to do this is to develop customer experience journey maps. These maps describe how a customer interacts with a business, emphasizing the intersections between customer expectation, business requirements, and supporting technology. Looking at interactions from the customer perspective helps the business identify and implement improvements to both its services and processes.

The digital economy is the next evolution for business, regardless of industry.  A strong service management approach will help ensure success.

Need to raise your service management game?  Tedder Consulting can help you get ready for the demands of the digital economy – contact us today!

For more pragmatic advice and service management insight, click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

Photo credit:  PexelsShare twitterlinkedinmail

Six PDG (Pretty Darn Good) Reasons for IT to (truly) define Services

Share twitterlinkedinmailHow would you answer the following question?

“How does your IT organization deliver real business value?”

In the October 6, 2016 CIO.com article, “Business value is key to IT success”[1], Mike Sisco describes business value as including five very specific things:

  1. Increase revenue
  2. Decrease cost
  3. Improve productivity
  4. Differentiate the company
  5. Improve client satisfaction

Does your IT organization have a role in delivering business value? Sure, it does. Does your business know what IT does to deliver business value? Unfortunately, in many businesses, the answer is “no”.

Is it the fault of our business colleagues that they don’t know what IT does to deliver value? In my opinion, it is IT’s job to educate the business regarding how it delivers value.

Can your IT organization articulate how it delivers business value? That’s often the challenge with many IT organizations, especially if they’ve not defined services in terms of business value and outcomes.

Services are about “outcomes”, not “things”

Too often, IT organizations will list things like PCs, application access, and password resets as its “services”. Do these things provide (some) value? Yes. But are they services? No.

A service is a means of delivering value for a customer (or business) by facilitating outcomes (or results) the customer wants to achieve[2].   I’m sure you’ve heard or read that definition many times before, but what does it mean? Think about it this way: A PC without application software, network connectivity, and the like does not facilitate an outcome. In fact, in such a scenario, a PC is nothing more than an expensive paperweight. But include the PC as part of a value chain (comprised of software, infrastructure, processes, and people) that results in increased company revenues or improved productivity or client satisfaction, and wham! – you’ve got yourself a service!

Many IT organizations struggle with the critical, fundamental concept of defining its services. The IT organization is unable to identify and map the combinations of people, process, technology, and suppliers – or value chains – that work together to deliver business value and outcomes. Because these value chains aren’t identified or defined, the IT organization struggles to articulate how it delivers value. As a result, IT is often left out of strategic business discussions.

Instead, many IT organizations list the things they do as its “services”. But when an IT organization lists “things” as services, it sends a distinct message to the business it serves. The message? “Welcome to IT – we are here to take your order”.

Is that how you want IT to be known within your company – just as “order takers”? If so, prepare to be outsourced – because by only listing “things” as “services”, you are describing IT as ‘cost’, and not as ‘value’. And your business will look to increase value by reducing cost – in this case, the cost of its internal IT – because it can get those “things” cheaper elsewhere.

Six PDG reasons to define services

Why define your IT services? Here are six PDG (pretty darn good) reasons:

  • Provide transparency into IT – Demystify what IT does, while at the same time, relate IT deliverables to business value and outcomes.
  • Identify what really needs to be managed – Too often, IT organizations attempt to control everything rather than manage the right things. By defining services, what really needs to managed in a CMDB and controlled through appropriate change management can be identified.
  • Enable management of IT as a portfolio, not as a “collection of things” – IT should be viewed as at a strategic investment, and therefore, should be managed as a portfolio. This means that investments in IT should be based on matching those investments to business objectives, developing policies that enable good decision-making, and balancing risk and reward. IT never has an opportunity to be managed as a portfolio if services are not defined.
  • Enable cost modeling – By identifying and understanding what makes up each service, needless redundancy and obsolescence can be identified. By eliminating this redundancy and obsolescence, IT reduces its cost – without impacting quality or results. Cost modeling also facilitates “like for like” comparisons of service solutions and “build vs. buy” decisions.
  • Enable the business to take advantage of IT services – Services provide value by facilitating outcomes. The more business can take advantage of the outcomes of IT services, the higher the value of IT. Defining services not only articulates the IT solutions available to meet business needs, it also aligns IT to business outcomes and helps lead IT in creating business value.
  • Get IT a seat at the table – Defining services helps both business and IT understand the role that IT plays in enabling and delivering business value chains – the activities within a company that result in a product or service that delivers value to a customer. Having the ability to discuss its services in terms of business value will help get IT a seat at the business strategy table.

Define your Services…or else!

So how can you define your services? Start by getting the answers to these questions:

  • What does your business do?
  • What are the activities within your business that result in a product or service that delivers value?
  • How does IT enable or support those business products or services?
  • What are the combinations of technology, process, people, and suppliers that enable or support those business products or services?

Getting the answers to these questions not only will help you define your services, it will also help you articulate how IT delivers real business value.

Want to get started, but don’t know where to start?  Perhaps a quick chat would help!  Click here to schedule a free, no obligation 30 minute session to talk about defining services at your organization.

Image Credit: Olivier Le Moal

[1] http://www.cio.com/article/3128724/leadership-management/business-value-is-key-to-it-success.html, retrieved 12/12/2016.

[2] ISO/IEC, (2011). ISO/IEC 20000-1:2011 Information technology – Service Management – Part 1: Service management system requirements. Geneva, Switzerland: ISO/IEC.Share twitterlinkedinmail

The ITSM Paradox

Share twitterlinkedinmailParadox [par-uh-doks] noun

  1. A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.[1]

Example: The paradox of many IT Service Management (ITSM) implementations is they actually do not manage IT services.

Many organizations have invested time, energy, and money into establishing ITSM. But in a large number of organizations, the implementation fails to define the critical foundation for ITSM – the identification and definition of IT services.

What have these organizations done? Usually, they’ve bought a tool, deployed a self-service portal, called that portal a “service catalog”, and have listed applications, activities, procedures, and products as “services” within that portal.

Applications, activities, procedures, and products are not services. When companies have done it this way, they have neither a “service catalog” nor have they defined “services”.

What is a service?

A service essentially is a means by which the business or a customer receives value in the outcomes they receive from a service provider. The customer or business does not have to be directly concerned with the combinations of people, processes, technology, and vendors that work together to deliver those outcomes that result in value.

Think about it. For example, a smartphone without the underpinning communications network, suppliers, software, applications, and technical support is nothing more than an expensive paperweight. A password reset might allow the user to access an application or the corporate network, but then what?

By properly defining services, the IT organization demonstrates that it understands what outcomes are needed by the business. Properly defining services illustrates that IT understands what the business values and how what it does delivers those values and outcomes. But that’s not all. By properly defining its services, the IT organization also answers the question “why should the business get its IT services from us?”

Unfortunately, many IT organizations are unable to answer that question, because they’ve only included activities and products in what they are calling a “service catalog”.   While these activities and products are important, they are not services.

What is the impact?

When the IT organization does not define services that reflect business value and outcomes, but rather defines the activities, products, and tools they provide as “services”, here’s the impact:

  • IT becomes commoditized. Let’s face it- the business can get smartphones and laptop computers anywhere. If all IT does is reset passwords, develop applications, and install software, those activities can be outsourced. Define services in terms of outcomes and value and avoid becoming a commodity.
  • IT is perceived as a ‘cost center’ and not a ‘value-enabling partner’. Value is only realized when a customer feels that the benefit it receives from something outweighs the cost of getting it.   By not defining services, IT never enables or promotes the value of what it does. From the business perspective, IT just looks like cost.
  • ITSM cannot meet its potential. Defining services enables the operational aspects of ITSM. Services become the basis for categorizing incidents and requests, provide the blueprints for what CIs should appear in the CMDB, and help enable business-meaningful service level agreements. But it goes much further than that. Defining services enables the business to look at its IT service portfolio and understand its IT capability and how to leverage it. Defining services enables strategic discussions regarding how business can take advantage of advancements in technology while at the same time, ensuring that IT is delivering value now. With properly defined services, IT becomes a strategic asset of the organization.

Break the paradox

Because no two organizations are alike, identifying and defining IT services is a mix of science and art. Having said that, there are some key concepts that will help.

  • Look at the business from the perspective of its customers. What does the customer of the business get? How is value delivered to the customer? Once those two questions are answered, identify how IT contributes to or enables that delivery of value.
  • Just because your name appears on the IT organization chart doesn’t necessarily mean you’re providing a service. A frequent mistake by many organizations is using the organization chart as a guide for identifying services. The delivery and support of a service often involves multiple people from across the organization. How are the people on the organization chart working together to deliver the outcomes that are valuable to the business?
  • A service must “make sense” to the business. In my experience, IT tends to talk to itself about how the business uses IT, rather than talk to the business. Who better knows the requirements, needed outcomes, and what is valued by the business than the business? By engaging your business in the identification and definition of IT services, your service definitions make sense to the business and better partnerships between the business and IT will result.

Are you managing activities or services?  Does your business need for IT to make the shift from “cost center” to “value partner”?  Tedder Consulting can help with defining services, designing effective processes, and changing the perception of the IT organization.  Let’s get started – contact Tedder Consulting today!

 Don’t miss my future blog posts!  Click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

[1] www.dictionary.com, retrieved 6/5/2016Share twitterlinkedinmail

Are you buying the bike or the result?

Share twitterlinkedinmailWhat are some common uses for an exercise bike?

  • Use the handlebars to hang clothes upon
  • Use to collect dust
  • Use as an uncomfortable seat while watching TV or reading a book
  • Use to maintain or improve muscle tone and cardiovascular function

Let’s consider for a moment that you bought an exercise bike for the last reason – to use to maintain or improve muscle tone and cardiovascular function.  Why is this important?   Because you wanted to achieve some result or outcome.  Perhaps you wanted to lose some weight.  Or maybe your doctor recommended a program of diet and exercise to help reduce the risk of a heart attack. Perhaps having an exercise bike gave you a way to exercise during inclement weather.   Maybe you just wanted to feel better.

How do you know that you’re achieving your desired outcome?    Is it the amount of time you spend on the exercise bike?  Well, if you’re only sitting on the bike while you’re watching TV, that’s probably not a good indicator of achieving the outcomes you wanted.  Is it the number of revolutions that the bike’s wheel turns while you’re pedaling?   While that would indicate (proper) use of the bike (versus using the bike for hanging clothes), just pedaling without adding some resistance to the wheel may not enable your achievement of the desired outcome.

Is riding an exercise bike the only way to achieve the outcomes I listed above?  No.  You could regularly participate in an aerobics class or racquetball league at your local health club.  Or you could jog daily, regardless of the weather.  There are a number of ways to be enabled to achieve the outcomes you want – using an exercise bike is just one way.

Now put on your ITSM hat.   Is the exercise bike the “service”, or is it a means to consume or utilize a service called “Personal Fitness Services”?  Does the provisioning of an exercise bike alone provide the valuable outcomes that you identified?   Does the number of revolutions on the bike indicate achievement of the outcome, or just the use of the bike?  How should achievement of the outcome be measured?

The concept of a “service” is the core, fundamental concept of an ITSM implementation, but too often, this is where so many ITSM implementations “go off the rails”.  If you don’t identify, define, describe, and measure services in terms of the outcome and the value to the business, your ITSM implementation will not achieve its full potential.  In fact, I would even argue that if you don’t get the concept of “service” right, your ITSM implementation will (eventually) fail.

Too many ITSM implementations focus only on the operational aspects of a service.  They focus only on the “what” and “how” and give no thought to the “why”.  The emphasis is often on implementing some kind of tool so that IT can manage tickets, without taking the time to understand the value and outcomes of what IT provides to the business.

As a result, a tool gets stood up fairly quickly and IT does experience some success.  Incidents are captured and (many are) resolved, requests are routed and fulfilled, and life in IT seems good.  Then IT decides that it wants to exploit its new ITSM capability and become more proactive.  IT wants to move beyond password resets and resolving server failures and understand the business impacts of requests and issues.   And then IT hits a wall.  Because IT did not take the time to understand the “why” and map the value chains of how the various components, processes, and teams of people work together (oh, by the way, “processes” and “people” will never appear on a discovery!) to deliver those outcomes required by the business.  The IT organization will struggle to evolve from reactive order-taker to a proactive business partner.

Or perhaps the business needs to reduce cost and before cutting costs in IT, wants to understand the potential impact of any cost reductions.   Perhaps the business would like to leverage existing services to improve enterprise efficiency and effectiveness and is looking for IT to lead the way. But because IT never took the time to define its services beyond “we provide exercise bikes”, IT is not prepared to step up to help the business.  If only IT had taken the time to identify its services in terms of value and outcome – “Our service helps you achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, which will keep your healthcare costs down and improve your overall well-being” – the IT organization could lead the way.  Instead, IT becomes a bystander.

This is why identifying and defining services is so critical.  The business really does not care what specific softwares and hardwares are being used.  The business really doesn’t want to learn how to speak geek. What the business wants is to understand – in business-relevant terms – is what IT does to deliver or enable outcomes required for business success.  What is the value that IT provides to the business it serves?  How can the business leverage IT to drive new lines of business and competitive differentiation?   How can IT be used to drive efficiency within the business?

But too often, IT doesn’t take the time to identify, define, and understand its services in terms of value and outcomes.  Why?

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter!Share twitterlinkedinmail