During my recent travels throughout the world, I recently held a number of round table discussions on service management implementations, challenges and successes. Interestingly, many organizations that successfully implement incident, problem and change management start to run out of steam and then find it incrementally harder to move to the next level. In the round tables, we’ve been discussing the reasons for this and some of the successful practices that support effective execution of service management initiatives.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some the successes and failures based on these discussions. Today’s post focuses on the importance of business services vs. ITIL processes.
Recently, a CIO of a large global manufacturer told me that effective service management is “table stakes and not negotiable.” His organization’s implementation focuses on the effective delivery of service and not the service management processes. But it wasn’t always like that. Unfortunately, like many organizations they implemented their service management solution twice to obtain the desired results.
In their first implementation, the service management team reorganized according to ITIL practices, trained nearly the entire IT organization and set metrics according to detailed ITIL processes. After a journey of nearly two years, the team had implemented a service desk with excellent incident management, followed by problem, change and even a CMDB. One of the first signs that things were going wrong, however, was when CAB meetings were taking two-three hours each week, and CABs were discussing business-as-usual changes that should have needed only minimal intervention.
The CIO called their first service management implementation the “ITIL Compliance Journey.” After two years, their results included significant improvements in service availability based on the team’s ability to recover from outages faster. The business clearly appreciated those improvements, but was concerned by the overly rigid processes that were stifling innovation. They felt they could more easily get services from the cloud without going through the IT organization.
The movement to business services delivered with or without internal IT is becoming hybrid in nature. Typically, with some components of the service delivered internally and other components partially delivered through an outsourced arrangement or more recently in conjunction with a cloud provider. Think about the mortgage application process, most organizations use the services provided by a third party credit bureau. In the case of the global manufacturer their focus is transitioning to measuring the end user service experience, which forms the basis of service levels agreements. The organization realized they needed to take a broader view on the holistic service, removing the current egocentric and siloed view on measuring individual components of the service. This also required an approach where all the components of the service value chain were required to be known and as the team didn’t control many of the components the team needed to understand the partners involved and the interface points.
From an execution perspective this required a radical change in their service management implementation as they transitioned their focus from simply the maturity of ITIL processes to the maturity of their business service. This new perspective was based on the business service and the agreed service delivery contract with the business, whether documented or perceived and its linkage to the various stakeholders delivering the components of the service.
During the second implementation of service management, the term ITIL was removed from their vocabulary, although it is still used as a guide. The organization now focuses on business service using SLAs and the risk of impacting it as the guide to the journey. This change has proved to be extremely successful.
The team responsible for the implementation emphasized that the critical aspect of their success was a combination of top management support, with IT and non-IT singing from the same song sheet. Oh, and by the way, IT no longer just delivers services-they are a critical component in the delivery of business products.
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