Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Sep 12 2011   5:51AM GMT

IT Service Management simplified

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

CIOs design and manage complex information systems to help the company get better in terms of their efficiency and effectiveness. With time, as systems expand due to organizational growth and changed environment, they get unwieldy and it becomes difficult to keep a good grip over the systems. A need was therefore felt to have a process which could ensure delivery of good IT services to the organization at all times. We have seen challenges faced by CIOs in keeping up with the organization’s demands, and at the same time, dealing with technology-changes.

‘IT Services Management (ITSM)’ then came up as a formal methodology for managing the IT environment and services delivery. No one author, organization, or vendor owns the term ‘IT Service Management’; the origins of the phrase are unclear. There are a variety of frameworks and authors contributing to the overall ITSM discipline; and proprietary approaches are available too.

Understanding ITSM

Let us first understand what ITSM is. IT Service Management (ITSM) is a process-based practice intended to align the delivery of information technology (IT) services with needs of the enterprise, emphasizing benefits to customers. ITSM involves a paradigm shift from managing IT as stacks of individual components to focusing on the delivery of end-to-end services using best practice process models. It has, to some extent, common interests with process improvement movement, for example TQM, Six Sigma, Business Process Management, and CMMI, frameworks and methodologies. ITSM may consist of a set of best practices, a natural progressive life cycle approach, focused on value generation and business outcomes, non-prescriptive and therefore easy to tailor and adopt.

Main components of ITSM

It would make sense to understand various steps of the process that one has to undergo for implementing ITSM. Let me describe them in brief here. They are drawn from methodology followed by the Quint Group.

Service Strategy – Vision: This is about understanding the business and aligning IT with business objectives. Therefore every stage of service lifecycle is driven by a business case.

Service Design – Blueprint: This consists of a document made after a detailed analysis which guides the design of architectures, running of IT services, putting in appropriate and innovative IT infrastructure solutions and services. This provides the right direction for delivery of various services to business.

Service Transition – Construct: This part focuses on the broad long term change management role and release practices so that risks, benefits, delivery mechanisms, and ease of ongoing operations of service are delivered. Therefore the matters like knowledge management, awareness, training, release and development management, service testing and validation, are considered adequately.

Service Operation – Provision: This stage focuses on delivery and control process activities like event/ incident management, request fulfilment, problem management, etc. By doing so, we achieve a highly desirable steady state of managing services on a day to day basis.

Continual Service Improvement – Enhance: Continuous improvement is integral to this process and therefore there should be an effort to identify process elements to bring about service management improvements.

If we are currently managing our processes well, we tend to get complacent and do not formalize the service delivery mechanism. We should institutionalize the processes by inviting wider participation including those from business so that IT stays focused on delivering business benefits. It may sometimes not be possible for us to develop the best practices and therefore some external help could be of value.

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