ITSM Evolution – Practical Steps to Stay Current

Using ITSM Tools can be like rummaging through a garage full of old tools that you rarely use in order to find one or two tools that you do
Using ITSM solutions can be like rummaging through a garage full of old tools that you rarely use in order to find one or two tools that you do

ITSM Evolution – Practical Steps to Stay Current is a guest post contributed by Dirk Anderson, Head of Product at RedPixie

 

With the growth in BYOD and the consumerisation of devices, more and more enterprises are adapting the way that they use technology to service the business effectively.   However, many ITSM tools have been designed to give traditional IT teams a way to manage traditional services and processes at a component level only, whether that’s processing tickets or responding to an individual end-user request.  The challenge, however, is whether or not ITSM evolution is possible and demands of the business can be met using the current tools at our disposal.

Today, firms need to ask themselves if this type of service level approach, using legacy methods, can flourish, or even survive in the future. This article will look at the practical steps that we’d recommend IT Service Managers consider, to deliver services that address the needs of the internal ‘business customers’ in a dynamic business environment, where user expectations are more demanding than ever.

 

Step 1: Know your customers

As a matter of course, you should already be undergoing customer satisfaction surveys or have appropriate forums for regular dialogue with your internal business customers. Use these forums to gain an appreciation of how your customers do business today, what IT services they use and what may change in the future. It is likely that:

  • Your business will be using more personal devices and business customers will expect to access corporate applications and data securely from those devices
  • Your business customers will be embarrassed if their business partners and guests cannot easily use your enterprise guest wireless whilst they’re visiting
  • Your business customers will expect to work effectively from wherever they are
  • They will expect to walk to another desk or meeting room and instantly access the IT services, applications and data at those locations

Expectations are changing. It’s important to explore these areas, and never shy away from hearing frustrations. Canvas their views on new service capabilities that would improve their experience and help them be more productive.

 

Step 2: Pay attention to your IT service portfolio

Look at the IT consumer services that you provide, and break them into categories. There is high chance that you will have one category (and call it what you prefer), has a large percentage helpdesk tickets that are similar. This means that “your consumers” repeatedly need to consume these same critical services. These include: resetting passwords or removing software on end user devices. It is important that you automate these services and allow the business to self-serve. This will free your team up to focus on the emerging services that need to become part of your service portfolio. As you add those new services, some may fall into this same category. Consider how automation and self-service capability is applied to those emerging services.

 

Step 3: Evolve ITSM Toolkit to Meet IT Service Goals

As you evolve your service portfolio, how well does your current ITSM toolset fit your strategic needs? It is important to evolve your ITSM toolkit to meet your longer term IT service objectives. Can you easily add common cloud services and can you automate and allow your consumers to self-serve?

In larger enterprises, you should think like a public cloud provider. You provide the capacity and the technologies and your customers help themselves to the most common services, without the IT team’s involvement. You should focus on managing areas such as, overall service capacity, the software license position and the development of your service portfolio. Commonly used or repeatable IT services should be available to your customers to help themselves, in the way customers consume Microsoft cloud services, for example, without the need to involve Microsoft’s Cloud IT support team. If your ITSM toolkit does not support that strategy, then you need to consider replacing or adding to those tools, to support a more strategic focus. That may mean looking at new ITSM capabilities that augment existing processes and tools to deliver “new world” capability within your service portfolio.

 

Step 4: Review and measure

As your service evolves, make sure that you have a continuous review cycle in place with an internal business customer group.  It’s important to measure not only how the service portfolio fits the changing needs of the business but also whether your ITSM “toolkit” allows you to shape your service around your changing business. The following are critical:

  • Know your service portfolio – To measure the services that you provide as an enterprise IT team, be clear on the portfolio of services provided. It starts with a list of those services, typically on a web portal explaining clearly what the services are (and are not). The portfolio needs an overall owner, typically a senior IT head, and the individual services require service owners, such as IT line managers. This list of the services requires ongoing maintenance.
  • Manage the service portfolio – Work with business representatives and senior IT stakeholder to ensure that the portfolio remains manageable. As new services are used, you need to be able to remove other services, unless the business is willing to fund you to support an ever-growing and unsustainable portfolio.
  • Measure the service portfolio – Develop a way to measure your portfolio. This needs to include which services are used by whom, and the level of consumption. Undertake a Service Review, and work with the business to get feedback on the quality of those services. Understand the cost of providing those services, relative to their business value.
  • Build a Governance Function – Be open and discuss the importance of not creating a technical debt because of a “bloated” portfolio. You only have so much capacity as an IT function. Consider building a senior governance function to support the integration of new technology capabilities whilst removing non-strategic services and technologies.

In summary do everything you can to know your customers, understand your changing service portfolio, be aware of current limitations in your ITSM toolkit and evolve it for emerging demands, and lastly, proactively review and measure.

 

Image Credit

Knowledge14, steal like an artist

In this article, I hope to capture my thoughts and experiences from Knowledge14, the ServiceNow annual conference. See an early preview from the first day here [Live from Knowledge14 – ServiceNow preview Kanban visual tasks boards]

Steal like an artist

Fred Luddy, CPO and Founder of ServiceNow, quoted Steve Jobs during his keynote:

“Good artists copy, great artists steal” ~ Steve Jobs

Fred was referring to the creative process and innovation. He stated that in the last decade 70% of the Fortune 1,000 consisted of new companies. The life span of companies at the top is getting shorter, the churn is getting faster.

Big ‘ole corporates don’t stick around like they used to. To survive companies must innovate or die. A key part of the innovative process is to be inspired by, mash-up, and build upon previous work.

Creative Destruction - 70% of Fortune 1000 consists of new companies in last decade.
Creative Destruction – 70% of Fortune 1000 consists of new companies in last decade.

The Penny Drops

I attended the ServiceNow London forum last year when Frank Slootman urged us to “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way”. For a company whose market valuation and pitch to investors is based on expanding outside IT, the company demonstrated precious little leadership on how a company might actually get there.  It was clearly the customers doing the leading.

In the short time since those forums the penny seems to have dropped. Knowledge included a number of initiatives to empower customers and encourage them to borrow (steal) the best ideas from each other and build solutions outside the IT department:

  • Pointing customers in the right direction with a Service Taxonomy
  • ServiceNow Share – “an online exchange where customers and partners can upload and download applications and development content.”
  • Special interest groups (Human Resources, Portfolio Project Management, Higher Education, US Public Sector and Life Sciences Cloud Initiative)

Freddy Luddy launching 'Share' the ServiceNow App exchange
Freddy Luddy launching ‘Share’ the ServiceNow App exchange 

The Business Engagement Managers Playbook

In terms of new features announced at Knowledge14, my personal highlights were the Kanban visual tasks boards and new features to assist Demand Management.

I can see the Demand Management features being a great toolbox and playbook for Business Engagement Managers or those tasked with direct interaction and responsiveness to business requirements. In theory – you could collect all suggestions and develop them right through to delivered services. But also include the reality check of business impact, risk and resource constraints.

Showcasing demand management - assessing and prioritizing potential projects by size and risk
Business Engagement Managers Playbook: Showcasing demand management – assessing and prioritizing potential projects by size and risk

ServiceNow Partner News

  • Cloud Sherpas delivers cloud services around Salesforce, Google and ServiceNow. ServiceNow is said to be the fastest growing of the three business units (1,000th project completed). The company also announced a further $12M investment in the business.
  • Fruition Partners were showcasing the launch of their App Factory with some specialist solutions for the Healthcare market. The ‘Healthcare Management Suite’ is a set of apps built on the ServiceNow platform with Healthcare standards and compliance in mind. More info here.
  • KPMG stated that they had historically worked with alternative service management software providers but were now a 100% ServiceNow business. To support their growing function the firm announced a ServiceNow centre of excellence in Denver, Colorado.
  • Platf4Mation picked up the ServiceNow 2014 Innovation of the year award for their Facility Management App, as voted for by the Keynote attendees.
Fred Luddy and Craig McDonogh from ServiceNow awarding the 2014 Innovation of the year award to some snappily dressed duded from Plat4mation
Fred Luddy and Craig McDonogh from ServiceNow awarding the 2014 Innovation of the year award to some snappily dressed dudes from Plat4mation

Was it worth it?

As an analyst, it’s all too easy to become cynical of events, marketing hype and stock price hysteria in the technology space. With your nose pressed close to the industry effluent pipe, an observer can become jaded from the sheer volume of bilge.

Whilst Knowledge14 had it’s fair share of chest beating and hyperbole, I found the energy and enthusiasm from the event infectious. Cranky Frank the CEO gave us the company perspective and spoon-fed cute lines to journalists, the main man Fred Luddy entertained us and painted a vision of the future – but for me the main event was the attendees.

There was a genuine energy about the place as IT departments were beginning to realize they could perhaps become an enabler again and take a seat at the table of the business. The realization that ITIL and other frameworks are important, but they should be the wiring under the board – not what the customer experiences.

Don’t get me wrong, the streets of San Francisco were not paved with ITSM gold, organizations attending were still facing the same old incident-problem-change daily grind and curve balls as the rest of us – but there is a light at the end of tunnel.

Was it worth it? Yes. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thanks for the ServiceNow team for looking after us at a very well organized event.

Knowledge 15 is April 19 – 23, 2015

PS – I recommend a good book on creative stealing: “Steal like an artist” by Austin Kleon.)

Steal

ITSM and multi-sourcing – taking a joined-up approach

"Multisourcing is the disciplined provisioning and blending of business and IT services from the optimal set of internal and external providers in the pursuit of business goals." ~ Wikipedia

Behind the intricacies of ITIL and the various strategies that can support ITSM, the overall aim is to improve service delivery and make the whole organisation more productive. By making sure that processes and teams are aware of what they have to deliver, ITSM can offer better service to end-users and greater efficiency overall.

Well, this is the theory. However, IT within organisations may not be organised in a way that makes this a simple proposition. The growth in outsourcing and cloud services has led to IT often becoming a fractured estate, with different areas of infrastructure, applications and support being handled by teams both inside and outside the organisation. While this doesn’t stop ITSM programmes from being successful, it does make them more challenging.

This trend – often referred to as multi-sourcing – occurs because CIOs are being asked to reduce costs within IT. Cutting out internal resources and using outside services can be an effective route to achieving this, but it can come at the expense of a joined-up IT approach. ITIL gives guidelines on how to manage this kind of environment, but reflecting theory in practice can be difficult to achieve.

Taking a Joined-Up Approach

To combat this, going back to first principles and establishing where services and responsibilities link together is essential. Knowing where suppliers are responsible for providing service, meeting Service Level Agreements and delivering what is asked of them should be at the bedrock of ITSM projects of this kind, but the reality is that many organisations are not as effective at tracking this as they should be.

This can be due to simple human error – from individual tickets being created in the wrong way and therefore not going to the right team in the first place – through to more systemic issues around holding suppliers accountable and making sure that they are delivering on their promises. Whatever problem is being faced, clearing the lines of communication and establishing that processes are being followed is the first step to take.

This is also critical to getting accurate numbers on support and service requests and how they are being handled. This may also require a back-to-basics approach, so that suppliers and internal teams can be compared properly in an “apples to apples” way. Getting this information from suppliers is essential, as otherwise there is no way to prove that the ITSM programme itself is successful.

Following on from this is looking at processes again – are there ways that these can be more automated from the start? This provides an opportunity to speed up service delivery and support requests, while also potentially reducing costs on both the customer and the supplier side. For the customer, greater productivity and lower bills should be the aim, while suppliers should see benefit from reduced cost to serve each transaction and less opportunity for tickets to be lost or mis-allocated.

In order to achieve this level of automation, there are two things to consider:

1. ACCURATE REQUEST ALLOCATION

The first is how users can log requests for support and these tickets are handled through to the right support team, whether this is internal or external to the organisation. This involves more diagnosis at the beginning so that the problem is tracked properly. Users don’t care if their problem is caused by the application itself, the infrastructure supporting that app or the new upgrade that was not released out to production properly; however, the responsibility for assessing the issue and routing it through to the right support team does have a big impact on service speed and quality.

Implementing self-service portals for requests can help here by removing some of the day-to-day issues and automating their fulfilment. For example, a request for a new app to be installed can be automated if the sign-off level of the manager at a certain budget is approved automatically. This does not make the job of diagnosing problems easier for cross-team issues, but it does free up time so that more resource can be dedicated to those more difficult issues in the first place.

2. HOW TO AUTOMATE?

The second challenge is how to automate: most organisations will have a mix of systems themselves, while their service providers may have their own service desks and support tools as well. Passing tickets between systems automatically as well as managing approvals is therefore a big potential hurdle. For companies that are yet to make their choice on suppliers, establishing which systems are in place to check compatibility and integration levels is an option. For those with existing relationships in place, this is not an option to consider, so a different approach will be necessary.

Orchestration

Instead of thinking about tools, the emphasis has to be on workflows instead. Orchestrating processes between different platforms so that information is handled in the right way is the ultimate aim here, so that customers and suppliers can carry on using their tools of choice rather than being restricted or having to rely on manual labour to achieve results.

In a multi-sourcing world where cloud services, infrastructure and support can be managed in so many different ways, there is no one strategy that will achieve success. Each company or public body will have its own situation to consider, as well as that of its external suppliers. However, this makes orchestration and analysis of workflows more important – without this, the job of managing and delivering services is more difficult to achieve.

As multi-sourcing gets taken up by more enterprises and public sector organisations in their efforts to reduce costs, so taking a more joined- up and orchestrated approach to managing workflows will be critical to meeting their user needs as well.