Improve business buy-in by extending ITSM principles beyond IT

Improve business buy-in by extending ITSM principles beyond IT

September 10, 2012

By Colin Scott, Business Development Manager at Marval South Africa

One of the biggest challenges organisations experience when it comes to the implementation of IT Service Management (ITSM) frameworks such as ITIL is the traditional disconnect between IT and business. There is a perception that ITSM is purely "an IT thing" and does not affect the business. When it comes to implementing ITIL and other ITSM frameworks there is also that element of a grudge purchase that is required for compliance to IT governance guidelines. The truth is, however, that all IT spend should contribute towards achieving business goals, which requires IT processes to be aligned to the business and its needs. The value of ITSM can also be extended outside of IT and into various other areas of business, which can help organisations to leverage greater value and also improve business 'buy-in' for ITIL and other service management and governance frameworks.

The 'disconnect' between IT and business when it comes to IT governance and ITSM is typically caused by misunderstanding. There is a misunderstanding of what exactly IT governance is, how it relates to ITSM and ITIL practices, and how it can actually add value to the business as a whole, and not just to the IT department. IT governance and ITSM are aligned and share the same goal, and are supported by processes and frameworks like ITIL. IT governance is therefore not just about meeting regulations and risk management, and it is not the end goal. IT governance, or ITSM or ITIL is the means to achieving a goal – improved IT processes that in turn support better business processes and an improved bottom line.

IT governance and ITSM improves real business value by providing the ability to visibly align IT costs with business objectives, ensuring that IT delivers what the business actually needs. This in turn provides strategic integration of IT and business and changes the focus from technology to business enablement. Business needs to become increasingly involved with ITSM processes, as this is the only way to ensure that entire organisations adopt processes, and allows organisations to focus on the end goal of ITSM initiatives – business enablement.

One way to get business involvement in ITSM and to address the 'disconnect' is to demonstrate the value of ITIL as a framework beyond IT. ITSM principles and even ITIL tools can be used for a whole host of applications beyond IT, to improve management and deliver better service to customers. At its heart, ITIL is simply a framework for more efficient management of processes, and ITSM tools integrate and automate these processes. Given the pervasive nature of technology, which is in practically any facet of business today, there are many aspects of business from traditional IT and beyond which can benefit from ITSM and ITIL frameworks and tools.

From managing stock, equipment and machines in any application from manufacturing to warehousing to hospitals, to room booking and conferencing facilities in the hospitality sector, from emergency services to shipping and logistics. Any environment where processes need to be followed can benefit from following an ITIL framework and using ITSM tools. Whenever stock levels change, or rooms are booked, or ships arrive in port, these changes simply become incidents on a system, and then characteristics can be applied to ensure that all related processes, such as reordering, booking of catering services, allocation of docks and so on, can be automatically applied. Municipal services such as fixing pot holes and repairing traffic light can be managed with an ITSM tool. Even maintenance can be managed using an ITIL service desk, as broken windows, leaking pipes and so on are all incidents that require a process to be followed in order to be addressed.

By automating process and incident management and ensuring that the correct tasks are carried out given characteristics of each incident, service levels can be improved which in turn leads to happier customers and improved profitability. ITSM is not just about IT. It is about service management which can be applied throughout a business.

IT is intrinsic to today's business, but according to IT governance regulations IT also needs to demonstrate value and benefit to the business. Extending ITIL and ITSM beyond the IT environment not only helps to address a 'disconnect' between business and IT, but also helps to create value and highlight areas where value can be extended into the business. This helps to engage business and senior management and offset the cost of IT governance tools through improved and streamlined business processes.
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