Throughout my 29 years of service management experience I never once doubted the value of having well defined and well implemented IT processes. Over time, it became part of my belief system. I had faith that IT service management (ITSM) provided real value to an organization even though that faith was sometimes hard to explain to others.
However, just because I had faith in ITSM, it didn’t stop senior management from asking “What’s the ROI?” That got me to thinking about my own experiences with ITSM. As a young field engineer fixing mainframes I was on the front lines of incident management.
No one ever argued about the value of getting a client back online quickly.
As a service support manager I learned to look at trends and, in one specific situation, our team identified the root cause of a serious problem. By implementing a simple low-cost engineering fix, we were able to save the company millions of dollars in component replacements, employee overtime and, not to mention, customer goodwill.
No one ever doubted the value of saving money.
As an owner of an ITSM consulting firm, I count on having well-defined processes, supported by metrics and continual service improvement, to grow my business. I’m happy to say that my investment in processes has paid off and we are celebrating 10 years in business. So, why do people still question the value of ITSM? I believe it’s because people confuse “adopting a framework” with the hard work of “managing the details”.
Going back to my earlier examples, the true value comes from working the processes. Take incident management as an example. The only way you benefit from an incident management system is if it helps you resolve incidents quicker, reduces the cost of an incident or helps you avoid incidents altogether.
In order to realize maximum benefits from incident management, system data needs to be captured, analysis must be performed and improvements must be identified and implemented. Getting to those improvements is where both the value and the hard work lie. Unfortunately, far too many organizations have gone down the path of writing process documents that sit on the shelf or jump from one ITSM tool to another because they never get the implementation right. Thus, when they fail to derive value from ITSM, the blame is placed on “a faulty framework” and never on the lack of execution.
When people question their faith in ITSM they need to remind themselves that it’s easy to define a process or buy a tool. What always tends to be missing is the willingness, governance and the hard work required to get the value. It is my unfortunate experience that many IT organizations have lost sight of what ITSM is all about. ITSM is not a fad, it’s not a “nice to have”, and it’s surely not something from which to calculate ROI. ITSM should be at the core of every IT organization. Ask yourself the question: Why do IT organizations exist? I believe it’s for one reason: to service the business. So, why is there so much dissatisfaction with IT organizations?
Back in 2005 Nicholas Carr, in his bestselling book, asked the question “Does IT matter?” Is the trillions of dollars invested annually into corporate IT actually providing a competitive advantage? That book set off a firestorm of debate, a debate that was held over the backdrop of outsourcing, off-shoring and “on-demand” services.
I believe the reason that argument resonated with so many people is there was already serious doubt about whether IT provided any real value to an organization. All one had to do was follow the endless stream of outsourcing announcements to see there was obviously a powerful chord of dissatisfaction with IT. You may disagree and argue that outsourcing was driven purely by the bottom line. However, it’s been my experience that organizations flirt with outsourcing when the business is dissatisfied and feels that IT is being non-responsive and un-supportive. Outsourcing starts with dissatisfaction and is justified by dollars.