Chancellor Gordon Brown's five tests for entry into the Euro were a recent hot topic in government, and running the economy is without doubt a tricky and complex task.

But so is delivering IT service management across a distributed enterprise.

Simon Nugent of Infra Corporation suggests that there are five common indicators that can help identify whether your organisation needs to step up to an enterprise IT service management architecture.

Indicator 1 - Multiple service desks across the organisation

Like many organisations, you have been forced to set up multiple service desks for different departments, countries or customer groups.

You don't want your payroll group and their users having to grapple with IT terms or your Japanese subsidiary logging support calls in English. Human resources only want to see the user profiles of employees, while the accounts department only wants to see customers.

Without an enterprise IT service management architecture multiple service desks are inevitable, leading to inefficiencies and complex systems management.

Indicator 2 - Field engineers want to get online with portable devices

Your enterprise has invested in the latest technologies for your field engineers, and now they want to use them. They want to use their PDA's to access their service management system to update incidents and problems, and check on any jobs they have been assigned.

Suddenly you are being asked to support a whole range of different devices within your IT service management architecture. And you want to be able to do it without having to implement multiple software packages with differing underlying technologies or architectures.

Indicator 3 - Customers want to get online

Providing online access to your service desk knowledge base is becoming a fundamental requirement of the modern enterprise support system.

Today's customers expect to be able to log and track incidents and requests for change online, and to find answers to simple queries or complex problems through access to FAQs, a knowledge base and bulletin board.

You want to be able to provide customers with the access they want without having to implement a separate server or a new technology that needs to be learnt and supported.

Indicator 4 - Nothing fits together

Over the years you've selected and installed tools to provide network management, capacity management data, and hardware and software auditing capabilities. However, what results is a fragmented collection of technology tools that don't fit together to provide an effective service management solution.

With a single master configuration management database (CMDB) that encompasses all your software tools, documentation, service level agreements, warranties and knowledge, you could have a single view of, and access to, the current status of your IT infrastructure at any time.

Indicator 5 - Paper trails are the norm

The necessary processes may be in place to carry out approved upgrades and installations on the network. However the processes are supported by a paper trail, which means they are slow and can only be performed serially.

Automating your workflow in an enterprise system would ensure appropriate routing and sign-off, speed up processes and help ensure targets that are set in service level agreements are met.

Time to decide

While the Euro is still in the balance, most commentators agree that there is one overriding question for successful entry - is the British economy marching in step with the rest of the Eurozone?

In a similar vein, it could be argued that the deal clincher for IT is its ability to march in step with the strategic goals of the wider business.

It must be the provider of continuous process improvement and facilitator of improved customer service rather than a cost centre with little discernible business value.

By adopting an enterprise IT service management architecture to manage the enterprise's systems, both IT and the enterprise stand to reap the benefits of greater integration.

Simon Nugent is general manager of Infra Corporation, developers of enterprise service management software based on ITIL® best practice standards.

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