In the first in this series of articles, we looked at how the demand for consumerised services within the organisation is growing, and how functions from HR to facilities and finance are gearing up to cope with this demand using service management techniques. Organisations are starting to recognise that the same self-service concepts that they use to meet their external customers’ demands can be translated into better service delivery internally.
IT departments have led the way in this respect, through automated service management providing things like the ability to order a new piece of equipment in a self-service portal, or log a support request and get notifications about its progress. Now, there is a widespread move to extend the use of this technology to a range of business services, creating automated workflows and self-service portals, and moving away from unstructured platforms such as email and telephone help-lines.
Functions that do not already use service management internally already might think it a daunting task, but this is not the reality. ‘Time to use’ can be one of the key factors putting businesses off, but service management can be implemented quickly through cloud platforms, and show rapid returns in terms saved time and money.
The importance of “Demand Management”
Most organisations will have “Demand Management” in place. This process is meant to identify business needs, check and decide if it is worth it or not, find the funds, define the goals and at the end of the day convert the demand into a project.
At some point, an IT infrastructure demand is likely to be reviewed by the Technology/Architecture Board and, up front, the organisation will need to have defined the standards in the company. This is where the question “What tool to choose” should be raised.
What’s the best solution for the organisation?
This is the big question and the options are countless. Starting with a blank sheet of paper, many companies might want to go for what they perceive to be ‘best of breed’ such as, for example, the best Gartner Magic Quadrant tool in the targeted area. Others will go through a complex research and analysis process. And still others will ask their peers or tap into previous experience in other businesses to identify the ‘best’ solution. In all these cases, this may lead to the optimal outcome… on paper. But it’s probably also helpful to ask the questions, “How many of the features will really be used?” and “What is the impact likely to be in terms of implementation?”
When going for a new tool or platform project leads will want to consider factors such as
- How easy it will be to integrate into the existing IT ecosystem (Master data, User
Directory, Single Sign-on, etc.)
- The impact of a new interface, user features, and required behaviours for end-users, back office and IT admin.
- The training requirements that will be involved
- The support requirements for the new tool
- The fact that it comes with a new provider and licensing model to manage;
- Whether it might impair the IT infrastructure’s scalability
Re-use and recycle
Rather than acquiring a completely new solution, organisations might first check if one that already exists in their IT ecosystems will fit their needs. This can significantly reduce ‘time to use’, as well as costs.
Experience suggests that most larger organisations will already have some kind of service management application in place. In many cases this will have been initiated by the IT function where service management has long been a standard approach. However, there are also plenty of other pioneering applications created, for example, by HR, facilities or finance which other functions may be able to use as starting point for their own application. Most advanced service management solutions are designed to work across multiple functional areas and, being cloud-based, are easily scaled across different sites and departments.
If this is an option, there are plenty of advantages to be had as the platform is already integrated within the company meaning behaviours, capacities, and interfaces are known and the master data exists. In addition, there are also likely to be existing relationships with trusted suppliers which will also help decrease the critical ‘time to use’. Tapping the trend towards the standardisation of the number of solutions within organizations will offer the opportunity to decrease the complexity of the IT ecosystem, the number of integrations, and the training required for people interacting with the solutions.
Avoiding ‘Shadow IT’
One other important consideration in choosing a service management solution is the need to avoid the curse of ‘Shadow IT’. In reducing ‘time to use’ by leveraging existing platforms companies can avoid the risk that employees, frustrated by unstructured hard-to-use tools or long lead times to develop new solutions, will go ‘off grid’ and develop their own shadow solutions.
Of course, there will be organisations where service management is a completely new technology concept, however these are becoming fewer and further between. Where solutions are already in place, and can be leveraged, the only real challenge is effective implementation which will be the subject of the third article in this series.