itSMF building the future of ITSM

Published on Tuesday 5 November 2013 by in News with no comments

Building the future of ITSM

Colin Rudd launched the itSMF annual conference in the UK with a strong reminder that it is time to change!  IT is becoming a commodity service. The explosion of cloud, software as a service, technology as a service as well as a rapidly growing demand for more IT solutions from the business signal a shift in the service provider model. In order to build for the future ITSM must embrace and enable three key ‘drivers’.

  • Service & Business Value
  • Service & Business Outcomes
  • Business integration & alignment

I am pleased to see these also echo the call to action and ‘core values’ of the SM congress initiative at itSMF Fusion 13 two weeks ago. A NEED to shift to delivering business outcomes. Colin went on the stress the need for ‘Business Integration Alignment’ – we are not talking about a ‘value chain’ anymore we are talking about a ‘network chain’ of multiple suppliers and providers of IT services.

Critical capabilities for the ITSM organization of the future will be:

  1. Managing changes, incidents, requests REAL TIME throughout the supplier network
  2. Strategy and service portfolio – more insight and understanding of which services are critical and provide business value
  3. Business Relationship management as well as Supplier Relationship management. A key attribute here being ‘relationships’. It is a people thing.

This means that not only must ITSM organizations focus on these more strategic processes and capabilities but they must also develop new skills sets.

To support this mindset change and help develop some new skill sets GamingWorks conducted a Business and IT alignment workshop using their Grab@Pizza business simulation game.

Why ‘alignment’?  Surely It should be ‘Integration’? . We deliberately use the word alignment at the moment. ‘Integration’ is certainly where we need to be – no more ‘them and us’, simply Business & IT working together the enable business value. However we have asked more than 5000 IT professionals at ITSM conferences ‘how many have alignment under control?’- about 10 – 15% of the hands go up, the next question is ‘How many think their business  sees them as an ‘Integration partner?’ – usually about 3-5%. We have a long way to go to demonstrate to the business that we can be an integration ’partner’,  we  must first demonstrate Trust and credibility.

In the Grab@Pizza  business simulation game delegates played the business and IT management team of a fictitious Pizza company called Grab@Pizza. Their task was to turn-around a poor performing organization and exploit emerging technologies to increase revenue, reduce costs and gain new customers.

What did the team see, feel and experience during the simulation that they could relate to reality?

Key barriers:

The teams immediately displayed the ABC of ICT worst practices which are regularly chosen in workshops.

  • IT has too little understanding of business impact and priority (lack of understanding of business strategy and the impact and cost of outages and delays). Which reinforced Colin’s opening message.
  • IT is too internally focused (failing to align investments, decision making and priority mechanisms to business cycles and business needs).
  • The business managers displayed a typical ABC worst practice for business managers ‘Everything has the highest priority according to the business’ and a ‘lack of involvement’ in governing IT. ‘Throwing its requests over the wall and both hoping AND assuming IT understood and would make it happen’.
  • The team had created a ‘them and us’ culture and attitude, little understanding of each others needs and not enough trust.
  • The ‘responsibilities’ and ‘authorities’ for decision making were not clear between business & IT  ‘Who shouts the loudest’ often gets their work processed – which isn’t always in line with the strategy and goals.

We reflected on some key learning points:

  • Internal processes need to be aligned. The IT operations was not aware of the changes in the pipeline nor which changes had recently been done (some without proper testing and documentation) – so they were unable to invest in the right resources or skills to manage the growth in workload and potential risks.
  • There MUST be more understanding of the critical services, critical time periods – or business processing cycles – and more understanding of the impact on business value and outcomes.  In the game people were allocating resources to solving incidents, analyzing problems, making change requests without any full understanding of strategy and impact. People recognized this in reality.
  • Nobody in the team (apart from an ITIL trainer) knew the definition of a service. One person at first thought this not necessary. The four key words EVERY person in IT needs to be aware of and focus on is Value,Outcomes, Costs and Risks (V,O,C,R).

Here lies one of the issues with becoming the business ‘Integration partner’.  I see everywhere that IT must focus on demonstrating business VALUE, we must integrate with the business to create new VALUE, IT must be VALUE added partner….I see little focus on IT must also demonstrate RISK management as a core capability. Why do I say this? In a recent article I read that $980 billion dollars are lost because of poor business investments in IT and that $26.5 billion is lost on downtime. These are significant risks and IT should demonstrate it can help the business reduce these wasted costs and risks AND start ensuring that the investments in IT deliver VALUE.

Furthermore when I ask people attending ITIL training what they hope to achieve in terms of V,O,C,R I usually get blank stares and the answer ‘I don’t know I was told to come to the training to get my ITIL certificate’.

  • The Change advisory board must include business managers, the business must help IT understand V,O,C,R . This is where IT can then signal RISKS and help prevent wasted costs and risk to value generation.
  • Problem management is a core capability for helping manage risks and a vital CSI capability.
  • A service portfolio needs to be made showing both Business & IT investments. Balancing these to maximize Value and Outcomes against protecting and mitigating wasted costs and business risks.
  • Decision making authorities need to be clear between business and IT  as well as how the demand & supply processes work.  It must be an end-to-end chain – which also includes partners and suppliers.

As can be seen playing the game highlights changes in behavior needed from both IT AND the business if we want to realize ‘Integration’, the game also highlighted a need to change the mindsets of both business & IT to focus not only on Value, but also, as IT becomes increasingly critical , the Risks.











See the global key learning points for improving Business & IT capabilities. 

The results of the simulation session clearly support Colin’s call for change, ITSM must change to become a strategic capability and able us to build the future that is relevant and valuable to the business. If we fail to change then we must accept the possible consequences:

strategic asset


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