Five More Key Takeaways from the HDI – itSMF USA Service Management Report

As noted in part one of this two-post series, ITSM tools and principles are being embraced in shared service functions (HR, finance, facilities, etc.) in an increasing number of organizations to reduce costs, improve processes, better align IT with the business, and make users happier.

Service management is not just for IT anymoreThese are among the findings in Service Management: Not Just for IT Anymore, a new research report produced jointly by HDI and itSMF USA. This excellent report is a must-read for organizations evaluating or in the process of applying ITSM principles and technologies beyond the IT department.

The previous post detailed six key findings from the report, along with our observations and commentary. Here are five more key takeaways.

Request management is at the core.

“Request management was the most frequently cited business need. As an area of importance to both IT and the business, the need for request management touches both general ITSM functional areas and specific business specialties. In fact, the vast majority of the requests are actu­ally related to a business function, not an internal IT need.”

The first sentence above isn’t surprising—all shared services groups need some system or process which enables employees to ask for the services they offer, and a unified portal based on the service catalog concept provides the simplest approach.

The last sentence is a bit more unexpected, but it clearly supports the notion that service catalogs are business software, not IT software. Extending the IT service catalog across business functions (HR, finance, etc.) using an ERM strategy adds significant value to the business with minimal investment required in new technology.

Employees should have one place to request any type of service.

“Having recognized that customer centricity and demonstrating value to the business are important and persistent trends, support organizations have come to realize that having a service catalog that reflects these new realities is absolutely critical. Though it’s important to recognize that although the service catalog is just an artifact, an up-to-date service catalog demonstrates to customers that their internal service providers actually understand what they’re doing on behalf of the customer and how they support the organization’s mission.”

While service catalogs have been used in IT for several years, in many organizations, other service groups (HR, finance, facilities, etc.) each have their own systems and processes for requesting services. Employees are forced to learn multiple systems and methods for requests, and to manually coordinate service processes that span multiple groups.

Extending the service catalog across the enterprise (the core the enterprise request management, or ERM, approach) provides employees with one easy-to-use portal for requesting and checking on the status of any type of service, even for complex processes like new employee onboarding. It provides an experience for internal service and resource requests.

A rose by any other name…may cause confusion.

Much of the report focuses on the benefits of extending “IT service management beyond IT”—a valuable business strategy, but an awkward phrase. What should it be called?

Per the study, “When asked what they called their non-IT initiatives, 80 percent re­ported calling it ‘service management,’ while 25 percent still referred to it as ‘ITSM.’ The remaining organizations most often refer to their initiatives as ‘business service management,’ ‘processes management,’ or simply ITIL, if that’s what they were using.”

As noted above, ERM is a concise yet comprehensive term for extending the service catalog beyond IT, simplifying and centralizing requests from any shared-services group, and accelerating fulfillment.

It’s not just about cost savings.

Though the report acknowledges that “saving money…is of clear importance to decision makers who use ITSM solutions as leverage within the business,” several other factors supporting the trend were also noted.

Customer experience: “The survey responses reveal a clear desire to improve the customer’s experience of service.” This isn’t just a “nice to have.” Simplifying and improving the request management process reduces (or even eliminates) the need for training; reduces calls to the service desk or other departments to “see where things are at”; and improves employee productivity.

IT-business alignment: Survey respondents expressed a clear desire to improve IT “alignment with business goals.” Much has been written about the perceived disconnect or gap between IT and the business. Improving that alignment is good for everyone involved, and extending ITSM tools and principles beyond the IT department is one highly effective and beneficial approach.

Talent retention and business competitiveness. “For any organization that wishes to thrive (or, at minimum, remain relevant), applying ITSM outside of IT should prove to be one of the most important strategies an IT organi­zation can pursue.” Providing employees with a more customer-centric system for requesting and receiving the resources and services they need to do their jobs improves both employee satisfaction and productivity, which ultimately drive the competitive success of a business.

The IT – business gap is closing.

The tectonic shift in the relationship between IT and the business has caused friction and, at least at times, dysfunction within organizations. But as both groups adjust—with IT becoming more responsive to business needs while users leave the “shadow” and recognize the value that IT can provide—enterprises will benefit in terms of improved processes, reduced costs, and happier employees. Extending ITSM tools and practices beyond IT is a key element of that positive trend.

As the HDI / itSMF USA report concludes:

“The fact that 45 percent note that IT is being recognized for the value it provides to the business as a result of adopting ITSM outside of IT is significant. It’s a tangible step towards a more proactive style of operation where IT’s experience and perspective can help drive business value in the near term, not at some distant point in the future. This is a positive indication that the relationship between IT and the business is evolving (e.g., a higher degree of trust, a deeper customer relationship).”

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