Organisations that can align the processes, people and technology elements of IT service with corporate goals will gain quantifiable business value, argues Jerry Cave, director, Plan-Net.

Poor service undermines productivity and damages brand value, just as improved uptime and system availability increases productivity, delivering an immediate bottom line impact.

With little money in the budget to achieve transformation, too many organisations are attempting to achieve the impossible purely through process transformation and the adoption of ITIL® best practice. Such strategies overlook the key people and technology components of service delivery - and constrain true business value.

The only way to achieve truly business aligned service delivery is through addressing process, people and technology collectively.

Combining a business value led approach with a comprehensive managed service can transform IT service delivery within three to six months, and give a near immediate revenue uplift. Without it, organisations will fail to achieve any sustainable improvements and continue to undermine corporate success.

Less with more

Informal processes, poor measurement and failure to quantify business impact - it is little wonder that IT directors are under the cosh as UK organisations demand significant improvements in service and support. To make matters worse, these improvements must be delivered without substantial investment in people or infrastructure.

An increasing number of organisations are therefore looking to transform the effectiveness of service and support by implementing best practice processes. Successful adoption of service management processes can indeed deliver huge benefits, such as improved uptime, rapid resolution of problems, and relevant, business focused service level agreements (SLAs).

Poor understanding

However, with pressure to do far more with less, too many organisations in both public and private sector are embarking on ITIL® projects without considering the people and technology components. Furthermore, very, very few have ascribed any real targets to the expected improvements in service delivery.

With such poor rationalisation for these best practice initiatives, how can any organisation balance the cost and pain of implementation against the promised gains in efficiency and service? More critically, how can they deliver service transformation to match business needs? It is little wonder that many projects have ground to a halt without achieving the real benefits in service transformation.

Of course, best practice projects are all about understanding potential revenue improvements and measuring the impact of IT service on the business.

Improved understanding of costs enables the delivery of relevant SLAs and business aligned charging. With good ITIL® process compliance, organisations should achieve an IT service function that is 100 per cent business aligned and delivers demonstrable value for money.

People, process, technology

So why is this not happening? Process change can never be successfully achieved without having people with the appropriate skills committed to delivering the improved service.

Undoubtedly the people element of the equation is creating the biggest problem in transforming service delivery, especially for the many mid-sized organisations that lack real understanding of whether or not existing staff resources are adequate.

Poor management information makes it impossible to gauge whether or not costs and resources are being managed effectively. Nor do these companies have the knowledge to predict what skills will be required once the process changes have been made.

Indeed, many companies are relieved to discover that a pragmatic ITIL® implementation will not necessarily demand an increase in staff - and therefore costs. But it is rapidly becoming apparent that taking the existing staff forward into the new best practice approach - even with ITIL® Foundation training - is causing major headaches.

Managing service

The problem for most organisations, especially those with a fairly small IT service and support team, is that implementing a new set of ITIL® disciplines will change the support model.

It will also change the profile of skills required - both increasing and decreasing requirements. This is creating significant challenges for those organisations reliant upon in-house service and support staff and frustrating the implementation of component services.

It is not difficult to educate staff to deliver the new processes, even if they don't have a track record of delivering to best practice. But can they perform the tasks associated with new processes and procedures to achieve business goals? Increasingly it appears the answer is no, creating business risk and invalidating the cost/benefit equation.

Having already invested time and money in achieving process change, organisations are now under even greater pressure to deliver quantifiable financial benefits from service improvement. At this point, the only way organisations are going to attain the full business value from a service transformation project is to take the third party route and leverage existing ITIL® skills.

This is not the traditional 'outsource a problem' strategy. Instead, it is about creating a tailored, on-site managed service that provides staff skilled in delivering best practice process transformation.

The service is delivered to a set cost and within a business focused set of SLAs, ensuring the cost/value equation is clearly defined and providing quantifiable improvements in business aligned service delivery.

Quantifying value

Service management adoption projects are becoming more successful as organisations increasingly adopt a pragmatic, phased approach that matches the service management model to specific business requirements. But such projects are taking too long, primarily because of the problems in managing and motivating existing staff to follow the new best practice procedures.

The only way organisations are going to achieve the rapid transformation from business aligned service is to opt for a managed service. With this approach the new service management model can be up and running and delivering the service level agreement within three to six months. Without it, organisations will be lucky to get close in 18 months.

In addition, this change will never be achieved if organisations persist in failing to measure the value IT service delivers to the business. Only by attaining a real understanding of that value can an organisation understand the real implications of service improvements and subsequently create the best strategy to rapidly achieve that business led goal.