Delivering Business Value through IT Services

Introduction

In today’s business environment, companies are constantly adopting new technologies or re-strategizing the ways they operate, largely due to the changing expectations of their customers. Take a minute to think about services like on-demand courier services, e-hailing services, food delivery services or automated customer services. These services all have one thing in common: their ability to provide services instantly and in a highly personalized manner. The growing need and success for such services is changing how today’s customers value service delivery in general. Over the last few years, the expectations for service delivery have shifted completely.

Fundamentally, if a service can be delivered at the speed, cost and quality that meets or exceeds the expectation of the customer, then the service is perceived as valuable. The only way to reach that level of service expectation, is with the use of technology and an effective operating model. As a result, most companies now are prioritizing their resources to establish an effective IT Service Management (ITSM) strategy that can bring business and technology together to deliver value through services.

Common impediments in delivering value through IT services

In most organizations, IT department still work independently from other business departments, resulting in limited opportunities to collaborate, communicate or to understand the service levels that are required by the business as a whole. In a typical and traditional IT organisation, support teams usually work in the ‘back-end’ of the organization. They support customer inquiries, provide and manage IT systems and infrastructure and ensure that the business keeps running. In only a limited number of cases, the IT teams are positioned at the front-end to provide the entry-point of valuable service delivery.

Without unifying the IT function and the overall business needs, this type of silo mentality hinders flexibility, efficiency, cross-functional knowledge-transfer and prevents the organization from leveraging value from its IT and technology capabilities. In order to transform IT into a driving force in all aspects of business, it requires an effective and practical framework to seamlessly integrate IT and business functions to deliver value.

Using ITIL® as the IT Service Management Framework

IT Service Management (ITSM) is a concept that aims to deliver value to stakeholders through IT services. When properly architected, ITSM enables an organization to maximize business value from the use of information technology, process and people. Since managing IT services can quickly become very complicated, especially for organizations that are delivering automated services, there is a need to have a standard set of best practices or a guide for managing those services.

ITIL® is the most widely adopted approach to IT service management globally. It is a framework of best practices that organizations can use to provide a common language and tools that promote collaboration within IT teams to deliver value across a business. Global organization such as Walt Disney, Spotify, Mercantil Bank and the other 90% of the FTSE 500 relied upon ITIL® to run their IT operations. The reason why ITIL is so successful is because its underlying principles focus on helping companies align their business and technology strategy with the customer needs. Furthermore, the ITIL framework is very flexible since organizations can adopt only the parts that they need and adapt the ideas that best fit their environment.

The ITIL Framework

The value and benefits of ITIL

The adoption of ITIL as the framework for ITSM has benefited many companies over the decades. The  stated top 6 benefits that your organization can potentially obtain by adopting ITIL® are:

  1. Stronger alignment between IT and the business
  2. Improved service delivery and customer satisfaction
  3. Reduced costs through improved utilization of resources
  4. Greater visibility of IT costs and assets
  5. Better management of business risk and service disruption or failure
  6. More stable service environment to support constant business change

Below are some of the actual ITIL adoption examples from global organizations:

The ITIL Guiding Principles

There are several important areas or topics in ITIL 4 (published in 2019) such as the guiding principles, the 4 dimensions of service management, the ITIL service value system (SVS), the ITIL® practices and continual improvement. For the purpose of this white paper, we will discuss the ITIL® Guiding Principles in more detail, because they best explain how organisations can obtain business value through IT services.

The guiding principles are one of the most practical and key concepts of ITIL 4. They represent the high-level best practices designed to provide guidance to an organization and can be applied regardless of the type of work, organization structure, goal or strategy.

The ITIL 7 Guiding Principles

The ITIL 7 guiding principles

The seven guiding principles are a standard in most global organizations today. The principles are not specific to ITIL or IT Service Management and they can be used in almost any initiative. The application of these principles enables an organization to work or make decisions in a collaborative and single approach, which has proven to be very useful for many companies.

Start with the people – managing change

One of the critical important factors for a successful adoption of ITIL in any organization is the way in which the IT organisation deals with its most important resource: people. ITIL, just like any other framework, requires the collaboration and effort from all stakeholders. However, the adoption of a new framework or strategy will often face resistance to change from the employees. As humans, we always have the attitude that if something is not broken, why bother fixing it? This is a common problem as changing from a current state to a future state will also require the employees to change their work habits, processes and culture. The possibility of failure for any change initiatives can be as high as 70%. However, some top performing organizations experience success rates close to 80%.

Given the right leadership and approach, change can be planned and managed effectively. The organizational change approach developed by John P. Kotter which is known as the Kotter’s Eight Step Model can be used as a guide for the ITIL adoption journey.

The Kotter’s Eight Step Model

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The Eight Step Model is slightly intimidating for many at first, because of the number of steps that need to be carried out. To simplify things, these steps can be grouped into 3 separate stages. The first stage consists of steps 1 to 3, and is focused on creating an environment for change. The second stage comprises of steps 4 to 6, and emphasizes the need of empowering the organization. And last and maybe most importantly, steps 7 and 8 focus on sustaining the change for a longer period of time.

Introduction to IT Service Management Implementation Roadmap

Now that we have covered the human aspect of the implementation process, we can proceed with the ITSM roadmap. The ITIL framework provides a practical template for modern technology companies to implement IT Service Management effectively. IT Service Management can be implemented with a very simple model which is known as the ITIL Continual Improvement model. The model provides a holistic overview of the ITSM implementation roadmap. With its iterative approach, the continual improvement model provides organizations with a way to improve their processes, and learn how to improve on an ongoing basis.

ITIL – The Continual Service Improvement Model

ITIL - The Continual Service Improvement Model

The Cybiant ITSM Implementation methodology

The actual ITSM implementation methodology is more detailed compared to the roadmap overview shown above. The methodology consists of the actual tasks and other relevant aspects that are needed to be executed along the implementation process. Cybiant has developed the following methodology because of its close alignment with the Continual Service Improvement Model. However, bear in mind that the diagram below is a representation of a general implementation methodology, thus it can vary from project to project.

The Cybiant ITSM Implementation methodology diagram

The Cybiant ITSM Implementation methodology diagram

As shown in the diagram above, the process can be categorized into 5 different stages:

Strategy – the strategy phase is focused on developing a strategy and plan to create value for the business through the implementation of the ITSM. The objective of this phase is to build a vision and clearly defined set of expected outcomes for the future state. Planning considerations must consider the integrated and dependent aspects of People, Process, Technology and sometimes 3rd party partners.

Interestingly, strategy is the stage where organizations attempt to take shortcuts – potentially ignoring this critical step and leap immediately into roadmap planning. The integrated perspective of the Implementation Roadmap is best defined in the strategy phase. This phase identifies and applies concepts as defined in Continual Service Improvement.

Applying the first 4 steps of the CSI approach, we define the key strategic objectives – create a vision, map, baseline the current state and carefully consider the organizational change steps needed to change behaviour, attitude and culture. This enables an organization to effectively manage the solution, set priorities and create a plan forward. With a well-described strategy in hand we find that organizations are well positioned to achieve the greatest benefits from the implementation initiative.

Design – The Design phase of the Implementation Roadmap is a critical time in the emerging character of the technology driven organization. The Strategy phase provides a clear picture for the organization structure and roles of the future state. In the Design phase, the organization translates the strategy and plans into a set of project plans, the necessary requirements for the emerging or improved services or processes, and documentation of the final process goal state. The deliverables from this stage include high level and detailed process documentation, tool automation requirements, a Process program/project transition plan, program/project/PMO guidance and an organizational adoption plan.

Transition – The Transition phase is known for a high level of process-related activity and the need for high degrees of collaboration and coordination within and across IT and the business. During the Transition phase, the design is put into motion. Putting into motion refers to the deployment of the process via skills-based training on both the new process and configured tool. Key activities within Transition include: validation and testing to assure that the process and tools will work seamlessly and without flaw when implemented; implementing the various aspects of the transition plan and preparing the organization for the new reality; defining and testing the implementation plan through pilots; and completing the transition plan with the organizational rollout.

Operation – Now is when the rubber meets the road. The process team has worked hard to prepare the final process for implementation during the Transition stage. The process was implemented via pilots and then an organizational rollout. Establishing governance and controls to ensure management and staff move from the old behaviours and way of doing things to new behaviours and practices.

Continual Improvement – No process or service implementation reaches perfection “right out of the box”, Cybiant supports the notion that on a regular basis it is important and critical to monitor process or service performance, compare that performance to established standards and, if there is a significant deviation from actual to desired, make the necessary decisions to improve the process or service performance.

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