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Eight steps to ensure IT service management success

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Tashatuvango)

In today’s digital world, the ability to keep IT systems operating smoothly while implementing new technology is absolutely essential to business success. This means organisations are increasingly reliant on access to high quality ITSM (IT Service Management) support to keep systems running and prevent IT issues from harming employee productivity.

The right ITSM strategy is a crucial part of ongoing digitalisation efforts and can improve both efficiency and resilience across the organisation. Following the eight key steps below can help businesses increase ITSM maturity.

1. Assessing current ITSM maturity

Implementing changes to people, process and technology can help businesses become more profitable, but change can also be disruptive. To ensure they are not investing in change for change’s sake, businesses should assess their current situation and needs before investing in new ITSM solutions.

A good place to start is to complete the services definition process, clearly defining all of the services expected by the company’s customers. Service Level Agreements (SLA) and Operational Level Agreements (OLA) must be meeting the needs of customers.

It is important to consider the technology relied on to deliver IT services, and how well it fits the organisation’s culture as well as supporting its business objectives. Likewise, there should be a clear understanding of what processes are in place and whether they are standardised and repeatable across the organisation.

Finally, personnel represent the most important factor. They will ultimately drive and implement any changes the company pursues, and therefore organisations must assess if the right people are in place to champion ITSM innovation.

2. Setting clear goals

Once a company has a firm idea of where it needs to improve, it can start to plan the appropriate investments in people, process and technology. Setting clear and achievable short and long-term goals is essential to ensuing that investments and changes are successful, as well as preventing mission creep.

Firms should start by defining their long-term goals, and then establishing the short-term goals necessary to reach them. Following the SMART model (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) will help keep objectives realistic and help the team start to deliver quick and quality wins. Setting out key performance indicators (KPIs) for objectives will also help to demonstrate progress and success.

3. Securing executive buy-in

Support from the upper management will go a long way in helping to ensure efforts to update or change the company’s ITSM capabilities is successful. Not only is this essential for securing the necessary time and resources but getting buy-in from the top will also help to get the rest of the business onside.

The ability to provide a clear, concise explanation of the role of service management and the value it delivers to the organisation will be essential for securing management support. KPIs are particularly useful here, specially combined with SMART objectives for the planned changes.

4. Establishing a plan

There can be a big disconnect between planned changes on paper, and the reality of delivering them. Before getting started on any IT change, teams should ensure they have a good understanding of ITSM best practices and methodologies that will help deliver the project.

ITIL is perhaps the most widely accepted IT framework, but there are many other alternatives that often better suit specific industries and business needs. Evaluating business goals, departmental budgets, resource constraints, and organisation culture can help to determine which processes best suit the company’s unique circumstances and requirements.

Six Sigma, COBIT, Lean, Agile, ISO, and DevOps are among the most useful frameworks to investigate. Whether ITIL or another methodology, it can be beneficial to train the team and acquire certifications before implementing the project.

5. Assembling the right team

The right people in the right positions will make all the difference in ensuring ITSM success. The following steps can help companies to ensure they are making the best of their existing staff, and spot any shortfall:

  • Identify existing personnel, skills and experience
  • Set out the roles and skills needed to succeed
  • Align available staff to the required roles
  • Identify gaps
  • Remove or reassign people who do not fit the requirements
  • Expand the team with additional personnel to fill the gaps

The team needs to not only be sufficiently qualified and experienced, but also committed and a good fit with the business culture. It is also essential to clearly define roles and responsibilities for all roles, including your service managers, IT service management team members, service sponsors, and associated process owners.

6. Getting automated

Automation is essential to improving ITSM in today’s fast-paced business environment. The right tools can deliver huge advances in efficiency or even entirely new strategies. However, it can be easy to get carried away and over-automate. It is important to balance the benefits delivered by automation with the need to deliver a personalised service for customers.

Some of the benefits created by properly applied automation include:

  • Reduced changes of manual human error
  • Ability to implement and maintain large numbers of repeatable processes
  • Dramatic improvement to productivity and predictability
  • Cost reduction and improved bottom line
  • Improvement in customer experience through greater efficiency and responsiveness
  • Cost reduction, a direct benefit to the bottom line

7. Finding the right software

Delivering an efficient, automated service and providing an engaging, modern customer experience requires several different tools which can best be delivered by a single ITSM software solution. Service desk, IT asset management and IT self-service functionality are all essential elements that a solution should include. Organisations should also invest in a solution that is intuitive and user-friendly, consolidates ITSM functionality into a single platform, and is able to support automation and integration with other systems.

The right ITSM solution can help to boost productivity while reducing operating costs, as well as increasing team accountability and productivity. A good solution can also help to minimise the business impact when issues do occur, as well as providing the visibility and clarity needed for regulatory compliance.

8. Implementing CSI

Changing and improving ITSM capabilities is never a case of “one and done”, and teams should continually monitor both the successes and failures of each process. The ability to manage all measurements in a single place will make it easier to identify trends and make new adjustments with a Continual Service Improvement (CSI) approach.

Armed with the right ITSM solution and framework, and with proper planning, communication and implantation, organisations can improve their ITSM maturity and deliver powerful benefits across their operations.

Matt Klassen, VP of Product, Cherwell Software (opens in new tab)
Image source: Shutterstock/Tashatuvango

Matt Klassen, VP of Product at Cherwell Software.