ITSM for high-velocity teams

Enterprise service management: 3 top tips for implementation

Best practices from the folks behind ITIL

By Akshay Anand, ITSM Product Ambassador and Evangelist, AXELOS

The phrase “Enterprise Service Management” (ESM) seems to be on everyone’s minds these days. The basics of service management, usually associated with IT support teams, are now gaining traction in non-IT functions and domains like human resources and facilities management. 

That said, there are many transferable lessons from the decades of IT Service Management (ITSM), be it practicing ITSM, implementing tools, training, consulting, or anything in between!) to the world of ESM. This article highlights a few of these lessons, drawn from personal experience and the research conducted by Axelos Global Best Practice while developing and maintaining IT Service Management (ITIL) or Project Management (PRINCE2 & PRINCE2Agile) bodies of knowledge. The latest iteration of ITIL (ITIL 4) contains a lot of IT-agnostic guidance. Many of these concepts apply to IT Service Management, Enterprise Service Management, or any other type of Service Management you can think of!

1. Value is subjective

ITIL, the world’s leading IT Service Management framework, has a set of guiding principles which help practitioners understand how to create successful service organizations. One of these guiding principles is “Focus on Value.” It sounds simple enough, but there can be tremendous risks to applying it simplistically. 

Tool implementation projects typically involve users and developers (and maybe a project manager or product owner), and we can often understand and articulate each group’s values. But what many implementation teams miss are the other stakeholder groups who aren’t involved with the tool on a day-to-day basis, but for whom value creation is still important. Governance, Risk & Compliance (who need proper record-keeping for audits) and finance (who need to reconcile spending against budgets) are just two examples of such stakeholder groups. 

And what’s valuable for users might not be as valuable to these stakeholders. Consider designing a self-service solution (a portal, workflows, approvals, etc.) that allows users to request help with just a few easy steps. Suppose that the same workflow doesn’t capture enough data to demonstrate compliance to corporate or legal requirements. In that case, the solution is creating or amplifying risks that can damage the organization in the long term.

On the flip side, increasing the number of stakeholder groups can slow the project down to a crawl as teams wait for meetings to be set up and decisions to be made by other groups.

There are no easy answers here, except to find a practical and balanced way to get multiple stakeholder groups to collaborate. It might involve some automation, some delegation of authority, or even a deliberate decision NOT to get involved.

2. It's more than just the tools

There is a concept in photography called Gear Acquisition Syndrome, or GAS, which is defined by the believe of many photographers that the best tech produces the best photos.

This mindset can be seen across many disciplines, including service management, when in reality, putting the best product in the market in the hands of an immature organization (or vice-versa) isn’t likely to create the best outcomes. Yet, many teams think that the next shiny tool can be a “silver bullet” that solves all their problems. And maybe it can. But they will then face a new set of challenges and problems that’ll require the next shiny tool.

When we consider the earlier ITIL 4 guiding principle, “Focus on Value,” what outcome are we trying to create, and for whom? Having a cutting-edge tool (hardware or software) might be valuable and exciting to use, but does it appreciably move the needle for end-users? What about other stakeholder groups?

There’s another model in ITIL 4 called the “Four Dimensions of Service Management” (note, it’s not the four dimensions of IT service management). The model explains that successful products and services require an appropriate level of investment into people, skills, roles and responsibilities, tools, processes, and “supplier” (be they internal or external) relationships.

A solution like Jira Service Management is specifically designed to alleviate all GAS symptoms. This service and incident management software comes outfitted with tools that flex and adapt to your needs to appease the gear-obsessed who are always searching for the next-best thing. As your organization grows, you need a solution that enables teams to grow together, in their own way. A suite of collaborative tools and customizable features — from communication, to the Help Center portal, to workflows, to knowledge base articles —is an investment in a solution that grows with you.

Technology will undoubtedly play a critical role in your ESM journey. Just remember that successful ESM also requires investments in people, in ways of working, and in relationships with other teams and organizations. Don’t get GAS!

3. Continual communication & multi-channel marketing

Many tool implementations include a training video or document replete with screenshots (and in rare cases, a video AND accompanying document) on the eve of a major release. These artifacts are typically hosted on some sort of shared platform – an intranet or a shared folder – which is bookmarked at first, but over time, is forgotten about until the content is archived.

The danger here is not only that information becomes harder to find, but also that we start off by assuming that everyone thinks and works in the same way. If the product team can use a new piece of technology after reading a document or watching the video, then everyone else should, right? It’s not that difficult, right?

Let’s take our cue from some of the products and services we use outside of the workplace. The teams behind those products invest in multiple communication channels, such as newsletters, webinars, YouTube livestreams, embedded videos, and chatbots. And it isn’t only when they’re about to release a new feature or upgrade – the communication is frequent and regular. They remind us of things we’ve forgotten about, highlight interesting case studies, and celebrate successes and awards.

Continual communication is essential. Helping and encouraging greater use of the ITSM or ESM solutions not only leads to more feedback on how the solution can be improved; it also ultimately leads to greater return on investment and return on value.

Getting started with ESM

These lessons are just the tip of the iceberg from the decades of ITSM best practices we can draw upon as we embark on ESM projects.

Jira Service Management does so much more than IT service management. Learn more about how your team can use Jira Service Management to harness powerful service management tools to streamline ESM.

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