IT service management (ITSM) has a number of definitions from a variety of sources. Starting with the ITIL (the ITSM best practice framework)-espoused definition:
“The implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of the business. IT service management is performed by IT service providers through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology. See also service management.” Source: ITIL 2011 Glossary http://www.best-management-practice.com/officialsite.asp?DI=575004. Where service management is defined as: “A set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services.”
A more “directly customer-focused” definition is provided on Wikipedia:
“A discipline for managing information technology (IT) systems, philosophically centered on the customer's perspective of IT's contribution to the business. ITSM stands in deliberate contrast to technology-centered approaches to IT management and business interaction.”Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IT_service_management
Last week I had the pleasure of attending ManageEngine’s first user conference and training event in the Middle East (Dubai to be specific); with event attendees not only from the UAE, but also Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
The one-day user conference element of the two-day event, offered me both fresh insight into how IT service management, ITIL, and enabling tools are being adopted in the Middle East, and first-hand experience of ManageEngine’s customers within the region.
This quick blog is intended to capture my views, thoughts, and opinions for the benefit of all.
The current state of IT service management in the Middle East?
My previous experiences of IT service management and ITIL in particular in the Middle East had been somewhat limited; but as with most things I had drawn my own opinions and conclusions based on the exposure (the proverbial joining of dots). So before last week I believed:
ITIL was talked about but with “implementations” driven from the higher echelons, or even outside, of the IT organization; adoption was slow and susceptible to resistance. It was a “good thing to do” rather than a business-focused means to an end.
That while customers (end users) are important the focus was still very much on the IT – the creation of IT rather than the consumption of IT services.
Middle Eastern companies value “prestige” and as such were most likely to buy Big 4 solutions for IT service management.
ITIL, the IT service management (ITSM) best practice framework, is now in many ways bigger than its “master” — IT service management. From its origins in the UK government, its use has grown rapidly in the last decade and ITIL continues to dominate corporate thinking in IT operations, IT support, and IT service delivery best practice.
There are many potential benefits from ITIL adoption, particularly around productivity, service quality, business reputation, and cost savings. However, ITIL is fraught with adoption challenges that could be prevented or at least minimized through better planning and execution.
The key ITIL adoption challenges and pitfalls (at a very, very high level)
Focusing too much on the reactive elements of ITIL and ITSM (for some, however, this might be enough).
Overstating ITIL and ITSM adoption levels – “We do ITIL.”
Overstating ITIL and ITSM maturity – where IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations often think that they are more advanced than they actually are – “We have a super-duper service catalog.”
Not focusing on the customer and business outcomes.
Lacking momentum post technology implementation project.
Noticeable dissatisfaction with traditional service desk tools.
With people-related challenges to be found in most if not all of the above.
Want more detail on the challenges?
These are explored in greater detail in the Forrester report from which this high-level extract is taken:
OK, the second part of the title is probably untrue. But hopefully Forrester IS your favorite place for IT service management (ITSM) analysis and opinion.
My colleague Dave Johnson (who is well worth following from a Twitter and blog perspective BTW) wrote an immediate reaction to the BMC announcement yesterday. Of course as analysts we are pre-briefed on such things and having had time to think about the announcement I offer the following somewhat random thoughts and opinions:
BMC (and everyone else) is “suffering” at the hands of ServiceNow in the enterprise ITSM space (both new and existing business). Some might see the Numara purchase as a retreat to the mid-market or a tactical diversion to maintain revenue growth in light of shareholder expectations. However, I think it is most likely point 3 (below) – especially in light of the fact that BMC are nearly always in my discussions with Forrester clients on ITSM tool selection (albeit sometimes only from a replacement perspective). And let’s not forget that BMC has long been the dominant ITSM player in terms of customer base with its enterprise and mid-market plays – Remedy and Service Desk Express. BMC continues to win a lot of new business. This is an offensive rather than defensive move.
It sounds like the start of a bad Christmas cracker joke. Maybe the title of this blog should actually be, “Why Should Buying An IT Service Management (ITSM) Tool Be Like Buying A Car?” but let’s see where this goes. I'll deliberately avoid talking about salespeople.
I sometimes talk about new application development in the context of acquiring a car: in that the business often says “we want a green car” to IT rather than saying “we want a means to get from A to B that is aesthetically pleasing.” What I realized responding to a Forrester client inquiry this morning is that the same is true in selecting an ITSM tool.
How should one buy a car?
Let’s look at ITSM tool selection in terms of needing a new means of transport/business support, as you might not actually need a car:
Work out what you need it for (is the need for a car, tractor, plane, or pony?)
Identify the features you need based on what you need to achieve rather than what is available (will you use 16 cup holders?)
Identify what features you need/value most and don’t lose sight of them
Work out what you can afford (this might impact the above)
Speak to your “personal network” about their experiences with particular models and vendors
Look at what is being said on the Internet (the social commentary)
Consult aggregators of opinion and experiences (analysts and some consultants)
Speak with existing customers (and not just the ones that the car sales person points you at)
Ask for what you actually need
Always, always have a test drive and kick the tires (that is a test drive by the people who will be driving the vehicle in their job rather than the people who watch them drive). Get a pilot implementation
A lot continues to be said about the impact of “social” on IT support and for some it is now “so 2009.” To me, it was inevitable in 2009, and I wonder how far we have moved on in reality. Yes, some IT service management (ITSM) tool vendors have added in shiny new capabilities inspired by the adoption of mainstream social facilities such as Facebook and Twitter; but how many IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations really understand social (and how social will impact IT support)? This, however, is the meat for another blog from the Forrester Community deli – today I only have time to drop a few sourpuss-thoughts in “virtual ink.”
So why am I being such a sourpuss?
Firstly, I am burdened by “the collective history of the ITSM community.” How often have we seen a great ITSM idea murdered in its execution? Consider the word “execution” here – it seems somewhat appropriate methinks:
What did we learn with the “knees-up” that was CMDB adoption in the late 2000s? It was an expensive party that many would love to forget.
How many I&O organizations are now buying service catalog technology rather than adopting service catalog management best/good practice that is supported by technology?
Sorry but I’m “frustrated of Peterborough” (but not directly at IT for once). Having just come off a half an hour call with two “major credit card provider” customer service staff, I’m frustrated to within an inch of screaming at someone. In some ways this blog is my outlet (but there is interesting stuff eventually).
You might think I'm overreacting, however, when one’s time is so limited these days, it is difficult to rise above the fact that I wasted 20 of the 30 minutes most likely because the “major credit card provider” has off-shored its customer support to save money (please note that the off-shoring is an assumption on my part based on my interactions).
But what has this to do with IT?
Hopefully you didn’t need to ask this question … I had an issue with a credit card service; many have issues with corporate IT services. We all call up, we all expect a quick resolution, and many expect to be treated in a customer, rather than supplier, focused manner.
Oddly enough, I spoke about this exact point at the itSMFUK London Regional yesterday … from an IT service management perspective (well specifically a service/help desk perspective). That we are now too focused on the mechanics of things (tool and process, AND scripts) and that, in some ways by virtue of this, we have “dumbed-down” the IT service desk.
This is not intended as an insult to service desk people, they have a difficult job: a job where they day in, day out, deal with the fallout from IT failures and the potentially unhappy customers. In an environment where there is very little “good news” or praise.
When will our IT Support people learn (or be taught)? Listening to a family member talk about the issues they’re having with their corporate laptop and how IT Support has responded has made me both angry and embarrassed to be associated with the IT Support community.
Sorry for the potentially gross generalization, I do know that there are a great number of excellent IT Support people out there who bend over backwards to help their internal customers; with “customers” the key word here. However, like many other internal functions, IT Support can forget that they are dealing with internal customers or the internal consumers of IT services (OK, they can only forget if they knew it in the first place). They forget that it is not about the IT, that it has to be about the people and the business.
So what happened?
It started with a virus (where was the corporate antivirus when it was needed?). The IT Support first contact response was “Bring it into the office tomorrow. You will be in breach of contract if you don’t.” Say what? Is that how we treat our “customers”?
Anyway, two days later the laptop is handed back with an older version of IE and no shortcuts to anything other than Office. “There was no time to do more” the IT Support response. The “customer” response: “I'm giving up on my work laptop and using my own” and I&O continues to encourage its own downfall.
Earlier this week, I attended the Hornbill User Group (or "HUG" as it is affectionately known) to listen to Malcolm Fry, IT service management (ITSM) legend and author of "ITIL Lite," talk about ITSM metrics in the context of ITIL 2011.
There is no doubt that metrics have long been a topic of interest, concern, and debate for ITSM practitioners (I wrote a piece a few years ago that is still the most popular item on my old blog site by a huge margin), and IMO I&O organizations struggle with the area due to a number of reasons:
I&O is not entirely sure what it is doing (in terms of metrics) and why.
We often measure what is easy to measure rather than what we should measure.
I&O can easily fall into the trap of focusing on IT metrics rather than business-focused metrics.
I&O organizations often have too many metrics as opposed to a select few (often led by the abundance of reports and metrics provided by the ITSM tool or tools of choice).
There is no structure or context between metrics (these can be stuck in silos rather than being “end-to-end”).
Metrics are commonly viewed as an output in their own right rather than as an input into business conversations about services or improvement activity.
Last week I took part in a podcast focusing on the "Future of the Service Desk." Unsurprisingly, this is a hot topic at Forrester for the I&O role. The standard equation for measuring service desk performance is simply the highest possible quality or customer service over the lowest possible cost. While simple on paper, the challenge to try and achieve this equilibrium is a complex conundrum for many service desk managers.
Developments such as the "consumerization" of IT further compound this issue. Service desk professionals now operate in a business environment in which their end users or customers are "tech savvy." This leads to a potential conflict spark point where IT customers believe that they have more IT know-how than the service desk. In some cases, this could well be true and it would be dangerous to dismiss these customers and their knowledge. So what is the answer? Well, on the podcast I explained that the service desk and IT as a whole has to focus on becoming "customer savvy" to embrace these pressures.