The future of service management is in business
Blog posted by: Barclay Rae – ITSM consultant, 09 June 2022.
Should we be talking about “ITSM”, “service management” or something else entirely in 2022?
It’s actually been a topic of constant debate for about 15 years – and something I felt keenly when I was CEO of itSMF UK.
There are, today, two very clear – if contrasting – positions on this question:
- It should be called service management because it relates not just to IT but business more broadly; seeing service management used across organizations, such as HR, finance and marketing and now promoted as enterprise service management.
- However, the reality is that 95%+ of people involved in this activity work in IT.
At this point, I don’t think it’s acceptable to be called just ITSM – not least because the term reduces it to something much less strategic than it is.
Service management and ITIL 4
The coming of ITIL 4 has raised the discussion level about service management, taking it out of the operational and moving it to the strategic, business level; concerned with what an organization is trying to achieve in terms of value.
It also talks about service management in a way people across multiple business functions can understand without knowing anything about IT.
Topics such as governance (what are we trying to do?) and ITIL practices including demand management, capacity management and configuration management are all very relevant in a business context.
And ITIL 4 expresses this is in a more human and business-focused way, with common sense concepts such as guiding principles, value chains and value co-creation.
But what about people either entering the industry or developing their careers further in service management? Today, it’s recognized more as a valid – and professional – career choice.
Their capability in a service organization – certainly supported by ITIL 4 guidance – is picking out what value is from the “spaghetti” of IT, practice and metrics and translating it into something meaningful to other people.
The future of service management in business
The idea of enterprise service management is not about trying to enforce a methodology but getting an organization to work together.
So, this might mean adapting what can be seen as a nebulous concept, depending on the business sector or environment where it’s needed.
For example, in a higher education environment focused on improving the experience for students, the idea of a “connected campus” resonates well with people. Elaborating on that idea suggests more efficient working, greater connectivity, reduced complexity and systems that actually talk to each other.
It’s about taking the pain out of organizational processes with transparent and more collaborative teams – and without pushing a heavy technology agenda.
Using service management to improve user experience – especially employees in the context of the mental health agenda – helps organizations realize the value of offering a better workplace experience.
The challenge is identifying who in an organization should own this approach – which again suggests the need for a new name for what service management is and does. IT might know how to do this, but it shouldn’t be the de facto driver of this.
The role of governance in service management
Having effective governance ultimately means that an organization has clear goals and is managing itself to deliver them.
This should be an ongoing, day-to-day consideration, with everybody across the enterprise playing a role; knowing what it means to them and their job and the value it contributes to the bigger picture of overall business goals.
And as a component within service management, it’s about keeping to the strategy and knowing what to do if it’s falling short.
Taxonomy – taking out the jargon
Taking service management from the IT “bubble” and into the wider business world means we must modify our language to be less IT-focused.
This needs people who can junk the jargon, communicate in a way that’s meaningful to businesspeople and who have a better understanding of what’s happening at a business level, going beyond the role of technology itself.
The enterprise service management opportunity will be realized only if there are shared objectives with a common language that doesn’t alienate people.
Where we previously saw ourselves as being ‘in IT’, we now must act as a business function, part of what we previously called ‘the business’ – that’s the future too.
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