Windward Insights

The Ever-changing World of ITSM Practices

Written by Windward Consulting Group

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Colin Monaghan, Managing Director of Government Solutions at Windward, recently had this article published in The Source, an e-magazine for the IT Service Management Forum.

For decades, companies large and small have embraced the idea of leveraging information tech­nology to deliver high-value, highly desired services and products to their internal and external customers in order to increase revenues and reduce production costs. Many IT organizations originally formed as a collection of technical capabilities based on specific customer use cases and limited by available or cost-effective solutions for meeting time-sensitive commitments. Over the course of time, the addition of point solutions and specific technical capabilities have allowed businesses to come to terms with the realization that IT can and should be looked at as a critical partner in the delivery of services to customers.

Still, many organizations struggle with the symbiotic relationship between the business/functional services delivered and the underlying IT infrastructure. IT can and should be looked at in most cases in much the same way as underlying utilities such as electricity or HVAC: without these building blocks, it becomes extremely cost-ineffective to deliver services that erode market share and profitability.

At the core of any public or private sector organization is the inherent obligation to identify business requirements from non-IT-centric organizations, and from these to formulate organizations, policies, processes, IT gover­nance, and to identify and assign appropriate roles and responsibilities. Defining or clarifying service offerings and capabilities is the foundation of implementing and managing a series of decisions and workflows to support business or mission objectives.

Today, many publicly and privately developed frame­works exist to suggest techniques and handoffs for definition, implementation, and improvement of the flow of activities from initial demand through retirement of organizational capabilities. These frameworks have matured over decades to incorporate lessons learned and to continually improve and modernize as market demand has changed. This has been a tremendous improvement in potential capability and readily available resources; however, the art of selecting the most appropriate mix of framework parts and pieces, along with developing achievable implementation and improvement projects remains the core of many business challenges.

The desire and need to control and continually improve capabilities has evolved into a billion-dollar software and hardware business, involving a plethora of vendors and technologies aimed at staying ahead of industry trends and addressing the increasing demand for cutting-edge capability at a reduced cost of ownership. As vendors react to and continue to enhance their own product offer­ings, traditional IT service management (ITSM)–enabling technologies have grown in complexity and features. In most organizations, it is almost impossible to put a box around traditional tools that were used to manage orders and tickets and to help codify otherwise manual and unmanageable workflow.

Technology professionals involved with standing up, integrating, and managing these tools are now faced with two distinct and exciting challenges: (1) how to expose and present data to other business-enabling technologies or organizations (and when), and (2) how to leverage advances in capability happening throughout the industry. As more options for compute hosting, platforms, and centralization/decentralization of people operations present themselves, IT can no longer operate as it once did. IT organizations must soberly consider their relevance and how they are marketing capabilities to the business. And to do this, IT organizations must be in a position to gather data on performance, relevance, cost-efficiency, and overall effectiveness of IT’s ability to provide services in alignment with business goals and objectives.

Fortunately, at the core of IT service management is the principle of continually fine-tuning capabilities to support all aspects of services being dreamt and delivered to users. This core principle has directed the continual enhancement of technologies to ensure survival in an extremely competitive landscape. To keep up with these changes, IT professionals whose roles had previously been defined by the ticketing platforms they supported are now expected also to interact with and drive value from additional and new IT and business capabilities to round out the overall portfolio of services delivered by the organization.

Within public and private sector organizations, many IT service management professionals find themselves working with a blend of vendor technologies and must continually hone skills and leverage near-real-time indus­try practices and use cases to stay relevant and productive. As more and more organizations reconsider their need to touch physical IT equipment and employ teams of in-house IT professionals, ITSM principles will continue to foster productive conversations between IT and non-IT leaders throughout almost every market.

Heraclitus said it best: The only thing that is constant is change. While this is often passed off as cliché, anyone paying attention to major shifts in IT such as PaaS and open source initiatives realizes that IT must continually redefine itself and its value to avoid being classified as a commodity. ITSM frameworks do just that by providing policy and procedural examples and implementation techniques that deliver continually refined services supporting the business’s goals, requirements, and customers. ITSM-designated resources today have the responsibility to help refine and course-correct IT’s direction and relevancy in order to truly partner with business objectives and goals. Luckily, technology partners are providing plenty of wind.