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Dropping the “IT” from ITSM

Enterprise service management

We’ve been saying it for years, “it’s time to drop the IT from ITSM” but it’s even more appropriate today than it was when I heard it ten years ago. I was recently asked to write an article on Enterprise Service Management (ESM) and while I was getting it started did some poking around on the Internet, looking for source materials. I found it interesting that other than tool vendors of “enterprise service management solutions” there were two primary hits: a white paper I submitted on the topic to itSMF International a couple of years ago and the DISA Framework for Enterprise Service Management. So the idea of dropping the IT from ITSM is clearly still in its infancy.

Returning to Enterprise Service Management, there really isn’t a definition for it on the Internet. If asked, I would define it as the application of Service Management principles, best practices and strategy across the enterprise as that’s what ITSM would be if you dropped the “IT”.

Why so important?

So why is this so important? Our world has become extremely complex and organizations have moved way beyond the mom and pop stage to multi-national and global corporations. Internal administration and bureaucracy have grown tremendously to where many simple actions (like hiring an employee) require multiple contacts across multiple organizations. Many Fortune 100 companies are addressing this by going the Shared Service Center (SSC) route, but during my research I uncovered a white paper suggesting that to be successful at operating an SSC you need to work on processes to support the initiative.

Enter ESM. You could take the ITIL processes or other ITSM best practices and easily implement them in an SSC environment, in fact I’ve seen it done and assisted in it in more than one organization (in fact, I’m working on one right now). Not only do they work very well, but the staff members in these other Service Provider groups also are not as used to translating paper workflows into processes that can be set up in a tool and appreciate the clarity and support that an ITSM-trained process designer can provide. Additionally, standard ITSM processes like Incident and Problem Management translate extremely well, even if the nature of the Incidents and Problems is process or support related, rather than being technical in nature (if you’re still dubious, one incorrectly calculated paycheck is an incident, 100 every week is definitely a problem…)

Since this is a very new area to many organizations, consider that Enterprise Service Management has two aspects:

  •  Standard processes for service delivery, used across any/all service providers in the organization
  •  Tool consolidation, offering employees a single portal for all of their internal service needs.

The first bullet needs to be more of a top-down initiative, driven to improver overall organization service delivery, but the second bullet can be done slowly, and also drive some of the process review and consolidation from the bottom up.

Organizing and Starting an ESM Effort:

Gathering some key internal service providers together, like HR, Benefits, Payroll, Facilities and IT and laying down some common processes for handling requests that require multiple departments to fulfill, like onboarding is a great way to get started. This doesn’t require an executive initiative, it makes good, common sense and many organizations are already doing this. The great news is that many IT organizations can take it a bit further when combined with a Service Request Catalog implementation. If you’re putting an onboarding request into a catalog, why wouldn’t you include HR and Facilities at the very least? So let’s look at this a bit further. Here are some common, interdepartmental requests to consider:

  •      Onboarding a new employee or contractor
  •      Guest support (parking, badge and wireless access)
  •      Moves (people and/or equipment)
  •      Changes of Address/Phone
  •      Leaves
  •      Reports

Not everything starts with IT

When you think about these in particular, not all of them start with IT and not all of them are typically thought of as spawning multiple requests. A simple thing like a change of address or phone number may touch several departments: HR, Payroll, IT (particularly if used for identity management), even Printing. Report requests can be for IT reports or reports off the payroll or badging system. Even if the non-IT departments are using some homegrown requests in systems like Lotus Notes or Sharepoint, consolidating all requests into a single “pane of glass” or a single Enterprise Service Request Catalog would be a huge enhancement for an organization. Imagine being a manager and having only one portal to access to request anything! I wish I had one when I was a Director in Corporate IT and hired people frequently.

Now take it to the next level. Some providers might not want to use the tool to fulfill their end of the request. You can provide a notification and a link they use to indicate when the work is done, to keep the system updated. But imagine if you actually “sold” the use of the tool to them. Imagine all of your service providers using the same tool to support their functions. Now and ITSM tool is not an HRIS system, however it is still a great case management system for HR to use in conjunction with their more standard HR management suites. Bringing all of your providers into a single tool instance can be a significant money saver for an organization, either through license consolidation or by allowing the retirement of several services that a duplicative in nature.

Today’s tools can handle it!

“Oh no” you say, we can’t see HR information! That’s right. There may be some information that should not be seen by anyone who is not in the department that manages the particular type of issue. Security and roles within today’s tools are robust enough to manage this if the appropriate preparation work is done. Using a RACI chart is an extremely valuable tool to help build a security model for the consolidated Service Management tool, while protecting sensitive data. Additionally, training is important. Everyone using the tool, inside of outside of HR needs to be trained in protecting personal data, handling personal and health information appropriately and any other specialized training that is provided to HR staff to ensure compliance.

Once Service Providers outside of IT see what’s possible, the organizational alignment to standard processes becomes easier. This does require cultural shift however, so some organizations may need to work intentionally towards it and gain executive buy-in. The point of this is that IT has the ability to bring the Enterprise together to provide a centralized support organization approach, even across multiple organizations. The concept of a “single pane of glass” or a single portal used by all providers in the organization makes it possible to appear as one organization, with one standard set of processes, when in fact multiple departments are actually delivering the service. Before IT can help drive this sort of initiative however, we need to drop the “IT” from ITSM.

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