In IT we often forget this, but we aren’t the only department that provides internal services within an organization.
HR, facilities, legal, finance, purchasing, sales, marketing, administration and other departments all deliver services to other areas of the business outside IT. Business processes flow across these services, so anything that can be done to make the flow smoother can benefit business productivity. Anything that hinders these processes hinders business.
So what prevents people in the business from getting the help they need from other departments? It’s often quite simple. It’s in not knowing where to find the help they need.
Is it always clear who does what in the business? The lines between departments are often blurred and requests can be passed around for a while before they land on the right desk. The process stalls.
The second common problem is the “black hole”. You call Tony in facilities to request assistance with an office move. He says he’ll get back to you in the next hour. Nothing happens. The process stops dead.
We’ve all been there and it’s very frustrating. Having more clarity on which departments perform which specific functions (e.g. internal enterprise services) helps to optimize productivity.
Most departments are aware that they need to operate more efficiently, but few are aware that they also need to interact more efficiently (mainly because their internal metrics don’t tell the full story of their performance in the broader context of the business). No matter how well a department operates internally, there is usually plenty of room to improve the way it handles demand from other business units. Most departments don’t think of themselves as an enterprise service domain.
The Enterprise Service Challenge
The IT end user community is not exclusive to IT. They’re also the end users of other departments’ services. It’s one big enterprise community, so from the end user’s perspective, it doesn’t make sense for each service department to have a different web portal. When you have a number of departments providing internal services to the same end user community, it makes more sense to create a centralized digital portal that exposes the services of all of these business units. A one-stop-shop for all of your enterprise service domains will reduce time spent looking for help and increase business productivity across the board.
Think about the end user’s perspective. In a day, a member of your enterprise community might:
- Request a password reset from IT.
- Ask HR how many vacation days they have left, and book a day off for the following week.
- Report an issue with the office air conditioning to Facilities.
- Request the company’s annual accounts from Finance.
- Ask Administration for help with booking a flight and hotel for a customer visit.
In most organizations, these requests will happen via phone or email, and the responses are probably dealt with on an ad-hoc basis, with no defined process, supporting automation or approval workflow. Even if the request doesn’t get lost, it certainly won’t happen efficiently and within a predictable timescale. Successful outcomes in these situations are underpinned by the work of a few individuals. By contrast, IT has a web-based request system, well defined execution processes and software tools to automate them. Everything is logged. Nothing gets lost. Responses are of a consistently high quality and happen within a predictable timeframe. Successful outcomes are underpinned by the quality of the system (a combination of people, processes and technology).
An Opportunity to Enable Value Outside IT
The IT department has an opportunity to show other service domains the way to a higher level of maturity – from ad-hoc manual processes that deliver “minimum viable service” to a streamlined service management system that communicates and operates in a more efficient manner. In organizations where IT has got service provision right (implementing processes that actually get results for IT customers and creating a digital interface to streamline response to day-to-day demand), employees may be wondering why they can’t interact so easily with enterprise service domains outside IT. As a department that has been there and done that, there’s an opportunity for IT to help other departments by implementing the same principles that have worked for IT. Unfortunately and all too often, IT is handicapped in its ability to assist in the enablement of improved service management by their legacy service desk technology.
The vast majority of service desk software products in use today date back 2-3 decades and require a heavy dose of professional services and IT support to build and maintain the required processes. IT is reluctant to take on these additional responsibilities, knowing that all other departments will require substantial support to deliver benefits to their constituents. IT also knows that if the support is not excellent, they will hurt rather than help these departments — and IT will be left with egg on their face.
The recent entry into the market of fleet-footed, agile SaaS companies, delivering service management solutions that are implemented in days, if not hours, by non-IT people, is allowing IT to become true champions of the service management cause. This frees IT up to support these departments by sharing service best practices:
- Thinking in a more customer-oriented and service-oriented manner.
- Managing what the department does as a portfolio of services.
- Monitoring changes in demand from the business – and responding accordingly with new solutions.
- Focusing on the service user experience and how services generate optimized value with minimal friction for end users.
- Defining and automating good processes which deliver the right outcomes efficiently and consistently.
- Making it transparent: articulating what they do and how they do it. Keeping service consumers informed about progress.
- Setting service-level agreements and providing feedback on performance.
IT has both the know-how and potentially the technology to support the implementation of service management best practices in other enterprise service domains within the business. By applying what they know about managing service portfolios, process automation and support outside IT they can help streamline the way other business units operate and interact. By improving operation internally, the business unit becomes more efficient. By improving interaction with other departments, business operations become more efficient. And, with today’s SaaS applications, all of this can be built and maintained by the business units without costly professional services.
Darroll Buytenhuys is Chief Operating Officer of Samanage. Darroll has over 30 years experience in sales, marketing and general management in the software industry. Most recently Darroll was a Senior Vice President and Officer of BMC Software (NYSE BMC). Darroll joined BMC as a result of the acquisition of New Dimension Software where he was the president of the North American operation and was also the company’s worldwide COO. New Dimension Software was an Israeli company (listed on NASDAQ) and its $800M acquisition by BMC was at the time the largest ever acquisition of an Israeli software company.
The ITSM Review are holding a series of seminars this year headed by ITSM superstar Barclay Rae. We will be starting in March with Transforming User Experience – Enterprise Service Management & Self Service. For more information click here