Too often the role of Service Managers is viewed as the office of “no” or the “Department of Innovation Destruction.” Their process-first orientation, structure and rigor is designed to ensure that systems are available and performing well, a hangover from an era where hardware didn’t perform as optimally and unavailability was more common. But that has to change.
I recently attended a session on change management at a conference where the speaker boasted about his organization’s rigor around change management. He confidently reported that no change could be moved into production without extensive testing. Now I am strong advocate of good testing, but, the 2-4 week period to complete the process wasn’t too impressive. In short, although they are delivering great reliability, their business constituents were becoming increasingly frustrated because their programs and objectives required change at a much faster pace and cadence to remain competitive.
In an era of tablets, smartphones, connected devices, embedded systems, multiple forms of delivery and the growing expectation of immediate gratification, many service managers at the conference were discussing Agile processes for service delivery. They are hearing the same thing that I am: the business feels that innovation is being delivered too slowly!
Typically, the business perception is that skills and resources within IT are misaligned and that siloes are inhibiting innovation. Service Managers are looking at processes and methods to accelerate their rate and cadence of delivery. Methodologies such as Agile are becoming more relevant within operations and philosophies such as DevOps are being adopted.
It’s now becoming commonplace for IT organizations to leverage service catalogs with automation, for example, to deliver “touch-less” provisioning of complex services and the de-provisioning of unused services to reclaim capacity. Removing the manual intervention and the dependence on operations staff allow them to provide greater value-added capabilities in the organization.
At a recent industry service conference, an executive at a global financial organization told me they have fully provisioned almost all of their repeatable services so that most cannot be searched, ordered and fulfilled without being escalated to the IT team. This implementation freed nearly 25% of their team to focus on the implementation of a social collaborative environment that enables their community to work in a “Google” like environment. This allows internal structured knowledge to be merged with unstructured information and the community to provide an environment where the staff can easily get their questions answered. The proactive solution is expected to reduce the number of calls for information which constitute over 30% of the organization’s incidents and numerous questions across cubicle walls! Following the internal implementation, the organization plans to move this solution to their external clients who are rapidly becoming their predominant user community.
The business continues to demand agility, innovation, and accelerated cadence of delivery. But existing processes alone won’t suffice. To deliver the value the business mandates, service managers must focus on automation and proactivity to ensure their relevance, fulfilling a critical part of their service delivery to the business.
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