While enterprise service management, as a concept, remains open to interpretation, it presents both an exciting opportunity for the wider business and traditional IT service management (ITSM) practitioners to evolve and develop. This article is an introduction to enterprise service management, to provide business leaders with the insights to consider when assessing the applicability of enterprise service management for their organisation.
So what is enterprise service management?
Potentially the most effective way to describe enterprise service management is to begin by exploring what it’s not. Firstly, it’s not just about IT or ITIL. Whilst the IT service management community has been talking extensively about enterprise service management, the concept should not be thought of as ‘ITIL good practice for the entire business.’
Secondly, it’s not about sweating the scope and value of IT service management to include HR, facilities, finance and other business enabling capabilities through an enhanced IT function. The value of ITSM and global business services / shared services are a topic in their own right.
Finally, it’s not about trying to create something ‘new’. A new framework, method or approach isn’t what the concept of enterprise service management is trying to introduce or achieve. Enterprise service management is fundamentally about applying the concepts, ideas and potential frameworks that have evolved under the banner of ‘IT service management’, and considering whether they can be utilised across a wider set of business operations.
For example, the concepts of request fulfilment, change, incident and demand management are not isolated IT concerns, but are activities undertaken across the enterprise, albeit potentially under a different name and for a different purpose or service type.
When you strip a service back to its inner workings, they are made of the same DNA irrespective of the provider or customer. In essence, a business function is seeking to reach a specific outcome through a set of processes and activities, which are controlled and measured, enabled through data and tools and executed by skilled people.
To that end, the delivery of those outcomes can be considered as ‘services’ which are providing an outcome the business wants, either internally, or to satisfy external stakeholders’ (such as the customer’s) demand.
The ITSM industry recognised definition of a service is ‘a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve, without the ownership of specific costs and risks.’
What are the drivers behind enterprise service management?
It is reasonable to suggest that enterprise service management has come about as a result of a number of shifts in business operations and the technology market:
- Converging platforms available on the market, which orchestrate common service management outcomes in a single solution across the functions of the enterprise. For example, using the same tooling solution to manage requests for IT, manage HR cases and deal with customer queries. The term enterprise service management was arguably coined by the ITSM tooling market;
- Software-as-a-service (SaaS), becoming more prevalent and accessible, potentially removing, or at least bypassing, in-house IT organisations, from end-to-end delivery chains resulting in business units creating alternative channels and methods to assure their SaaS services. For example, organisations procuring a SaaS-based solution and then providing the management wrapper around the delivery of that application to users within the business unit, rather than within IT;
- Adoption of agile and lean principles into IT service management practices have led to the recognition of the similarities between and amongst other industries, manufacturing processes and IT delivery. It’s credible, therefore, that the reverse can also be applied and that industry practices can learn from ITSM.
Who in the executive team owns enterprise service management?
Enterprise service management does not necessitate a change of guard in existing ownership for services, products and associated managing processes. Today these links are inconsistently applied and recognised between business, IT and other enabling functions.
One would not necessarily expect an IT director or CIO to have ownership of HR services, or a finance director to have ownership of IT services per se. However, it does potentially signpost a future state where ownership could indeed be consolidated or otherwise adjusted.
What is clear, is services are likely to be IT-enabled and their underpinning technology may represent a significant share of investment. IT that manages a component of that service and technology continues to be increasingly inseparable from business operations and revenue channels.
As such, it’s embedded within business core services. In parallel, technology is becoming progressively simplified to acquire, change and manage.
The role of ‘head of enterprise service management’ could remain disparate or shared among business and technology leaders. It could also potentially arise from a number of existing roles, such as an increasingly business and operational-focused CIO, a quasi-operational lead or a COO with technology central to their operations.
So, is enterprise service management an evolutionary step for ITSM?
It could be, but in broader terms it’s more about thinking about ‘everything’-as-a-service. Therefore, by applying that lens, what other good practices, tools, concepts and techniques can you potentially bring to bear on a business challenge?
- A business can use the concepts of configuration management to identify components used in an end-to-end production lifecycle and consider them as ‘configuration items’. This helps a business understand the make-up of their service delivery chain and assess the level of reliability of the services and the likelihood and impact of potential failures;
- Using core service management principles, a business can classify all internal delivery as services. This would enable a business to define a catalogue of inter-business services between functional units, against which performance can be measured and requests made in a more structured fashion. This could enable improved allocation of costs, better justification of requirements and better business planning;
- Applying incident management concepts to define a common approach to manage HR cases, IT incidents and operational issues. Classifying and categorising items by impact and urgency and then assigning them to appropriate teams for investigation and resolution, and where possible, using automation. This enables the concept of a ‘one stop shop’, improving the user-experience and provides the business with a consolidated set of data which can be used to help with people engagement.
These are just a few real examples of the business challenges organisations are facing and where IT service management principles or practices can be used to help generate a solution. Many financial services organisations have adopted these principles in a much wider business context. Whilst the primary reason for this has been due to essential regulatory changes coming into force around structural reform - there are still opportunities for organisations from every sector to step up and see the benefits.