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Putting the 'Service' Back Into IT Service Management - Part II

Today, IT is all about people and, therefore, by default, so is ITIL and ITSM, writes ITSMWatch columnist David Mainville of Consulting Portal.
Jul 23, 2010

David Mainville


Okay, so how does this all tie back to ITSM? ITSM was created to better align IT to the business. It recommends a thorough approach that strives to understand the information technology needs of the business and to satisfy those needs in a timely and cost effective manner. In the context of ITSM, service means a few things:

  • It is a term used to describe a vital business function, such as the Order Entry System or the eCommerce website. In that context, IT needs to design, build, deploy, operate, support and continually improve the delivery of that service.
  • Service can also describe how we interact with the business. One example is a service request for access to an application, to bring a new-hire on board or to provision a piece of equipment. Another example is an incident and the service provided to resolve it.
  • Service can also be used to describe the interaction between internal IT suppliers and customers. This can include services that affect the infrastructure such Change Management or service asset and Configuration Management.

When it comes to ITSM, it is extremely important that you understand who your customers and suppliers are. It is equally important that you understand that in your daily job, you can be both a supplier and customer.

Every interaction between a customer and a supplier is a “Moment of Truth”. In that moment, you have the opportunity to alter your customer’s entire perception of you, your company and the service you provide. So it's important that expectations are properly set, service is delivered in a consistent manner, and that you demonstrate empathy for the client.

IT is also critical that every stakeholder in the ITSM program understands that he or she has customers and suppliers, and that every interaction ultimately affects the end user, which is the business. Inefficiency and bad service between the various departments within IT is every bit as bad as delivering bad service directly to your company’s paying customers.

So let’s summarize: everyone in IT is a provider or recipient of service; ultimately, everyone within IT is there to support the business and their paying customers; and we all know the difference between good service and bad so there is no fooling your customer

“Putting the service back into service management” is all about defining expectations for every transaction between supplier and customer, ensuring those interactions are performed in a consistent fashion, and having empathy for your client. In other words, it means putting yourself in your clients’ shoes.

Processes and tools can help streamline the delivery of service but ITSM starts with each and every one within the service delivery organization.

In other words, service starts and ends with people.


Getting IT on board

How you get the folks in your ITSM program to focus more on service? Any change in behavior, be it personal or organizational, requires three things: awareness, will and action.

Going back to my example with my ISP I honestly believe that very few people (from front line support to executive management) in that company was aware of how their service was perceived. I am sure they got many complaints but there was no fundamental awareness that they were at fault. Every time I requested an opportunity to discuss my issues with management, I was ignored.

I don’t believe they have any willingness to change because they have done nothing to demonstrate it. I can assure you they have taken no steps to improve service because every call to them is still an adventure and I still dread calling them.

Guess what? When the contract is up they will no longer be my ISP provider. Shocking, I know.

When it comes to your ITSM program, you need to ensure that everyone involved in IT is aware of the role they play in the delivery of service. This can be fostered through such things as education, effective communication or even special events like ITSM simulations.

The willingness to change comes from within, yet is galvanized through leadership. Make sure your senior management team places adequate focus on service. If they ask why, remind them who their customer is. Remember, we live in a world of outsourcing and cloud-based IT services. If your client, the business, doesn’t believe they are getting good service, they can always change suppliers. Don’t fool yourself -- changing IT suppliers is easier than ever before in IT history.

Lastly, take action.

I highly suggest that you make service the core focus of your ITSM program. Take every opportunity to develop awareness, will and action around superior customer service. Review your processes. Get input from your stakeholders and close those gaps. Automate where you can. Most importantly, govern your processes. Make people accountable by rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. An ungoverned process will always decay.

Putting the service back into service management starts with each of you. Go back to the basics, to what you learned in kindergarten. Understand that every interaction is a “moment of truth” and that you and your company will be judged by how you respond.

David Mainville is CEO and co-founder of Consulting-Portal, an ITSM consulting and ITIL training company focused on helping Fortune 500 and mid-size companies assess, design and implement robust ITSM processes. Consulting-Portal also offers a full curriculum of ITSM education including: ITIL, ISO and CobiT. In 2008, Consulting-Portal launched IToptimizer.com, an online solution to help companies assess, design and govern their ITSM processes.

service, ITIL, ITSM, IT/Business Alignment, Consulting Portal