By Daniel Nickle, Vice President, IT Strategy and Architecture, Magna International
When you talk about IT Service Management, it is common to focus on things such as service level management, availability management, capacity management, change management and so on. Further, it is easy to get lost in processes, procedures, tasks, and checklists.
While these things are clearly important, it is often useful to simplify the process – to go back to basics, step back and ask two simple questions:
• Are we delivering the right services?
• Does the business know about our services?
A focus on service design and service operation, while essential, assumes already that you are delivering the right services and that the business is properly aware of these. It is my experience that we often focus too little on the foundational “what services” topic.
Are We Delivering the Right Services?
This may seem a simple question but it is an essential question to be able to answer. And being able to answer it comes down to two necessary capabilities:
Demand Management is not a system or a process or an application. At its core, it is about a true partnership with the business – such that you know current business requirements, struggles and challenges as well as where the business wants to go in the future and the help they need to get there.
There are many ways to realize this partnership. Increasingly, companies are adopting the BRM (Business Relationship Management) role to help strengthen the ties between IT and the business, and to ensure the voice of business need is being truly heard and understood. This is just one approach of many.
Companies constantly change and evolve and grow, and as this happens there is a continual need for new capabilities and services from IT.
IT organizations work extremely hard to design and deliver quality services and often expend too little energy on communication and marketing these services
Often referred to as “identifying the dogs”, this process is equally as important as figuring out what new services to add. We are all creatures of habit and IT departments are no different. We often offer a service simply because “we have always offered it”, with the result that services often far exceed their shelf life.
As mentioned earlier, companies change and evolve and grow. During this process, not only does it lead to a requirement for new services and capabilities – it also quite often renders old services obsolete and no longer necessary. Continuing to offer such services consumes time, energy and funds that could be better spent.
Perhaps a service is still necessary, but over time the internal IT organization has lost its competitive advantage in offering this solution internally. At this point, new ways to deliver should be considered.
This “house cleaning” should never be looked at as an admission of failure around certain services. Quite the contrary, it should be liberating – freeing up resources to focus on where the real values add can be found.
Does the Business Know About our Services?
IT organizations work extremely hard to design and deliver quality services and often expend too little energy on communication and marketing these services.
At its core, a solid communication plan will make people aware of the wealth of services available to them from the IT organization – after all, you cannot consume a service you don’t know about. But more than that, a well thought out communication plan around IT services is one of the best marketing tools you have available to you – and we should never underestimate the strategic value of tasteful IT Marketing.
Carefully worded communications will allow to share information not only about the services themselves, but equally importantly, why that service exists – a perfect opportunity to show alignment with specific business demand or a newly articulated business strategy; to reinforce the partnership between IT and the business; to clearly demonstrate that IT listens, and to show that IT, like the businesses we support, is constantly growing, and evolving to meet a changing reality.
Don’t Forget the Fundamental Questions
The various IT Service Management frameworks, methodologies, tools, and templates are essential tools to help you run your IT business. But sometimes it can be helpful to step back and ask some basic yet fundamental questions about our services in general: are we truly delivering the services that the business wants, and have we clearly made them aware of our services and, by extension, the key role we are playing in the collective success of the organization.