As IT professionals, our job is to align technology with business objectives, helping the business drive increased revenue and performance. That can be challenging, as for many shops, the operational burden of IT has not gone away.

Finding the balance between maintaining a quality lights-on operation, managing costs, and driving operational improvements to a higher IT maturity level is a significant challenge. The day-to-day complexity of managing an IT organization requires full attention and the lion’s share of available resources.

There’s limited bandwidth to focus on process improvements. IT has to keep pace and provide value during a time where disruptive technologies are changing the way services need to be delivered. The business expects IT to provide technology services in support of the business strategy and to demonstrate technical leadership that could influence market differentiation. These expectations require IT to provide consistent quality of service and develop capabilities that lead to technical innovation. To support this, IT must have a level of IT service management maturity to be able to manage demand and the quality delivery of that demand.

So how do you know where you are and where you need to go? First things first: conduct an IT service management (ITSM) assessment to baseline your current level of maturity, identify gaps, and develop an improvement plan. With an assessment, the end-to-end process framework and organizational capabilities are baselined to provide a platform to build upon. Developing a service-improvement plan emphasizing process improvements, capabilities, and agility will improve IT’s ability to adapt to change and sustain the quality delivery of services.

Specifically, being able to outline the key service delivery constraints by identifying root cause is a way to link the symptoms to problems and fixes that improve service and benefit the IT team and customers alike.

The illustration below is an example of a high-level assessment that outlines common IT constraints and potential impacts to the ITIL processes.

Common IT Service Delivery Constraints
Addressable ITIL Process Service Instability Delivery Lead Times Quality of Service Ability to Scale Cost of Service Lack of Innovation Overall IT Ineffectiveness
Services Strategy
Strategy Management    
Business Relationship Management
Demand Management
Service Portfolio Management  
Financial Management of IT Services    
Service Design              
Design Coordination      
Service Catalog Management        
Service Level Management
Availability Management    
Capacity Management
IT Service Continuity Management  
IT Security Management System    
Supplier Management
Service Transition              
Transition Planning & Support
Change Management  
Service Asset & Configuration Management    
Release & Deployment Management  
Service Validation & Testing    
Change Evaluation  
Knowledge Management  
Service Operations              
Event Management  
Incident Management    
Request Fulfillment
Problem Management  
Identity Management
Continuous Process Improvement

This high-level assessment provides a starting point for potential areas of process improvements. Another level of detailed analysis would be required to assess each underlying process and the details needing to be addressed (resource, process, technology). Each process in itself is as an integral part to the overall ITSM delivery model.

Periodic assessments and service-improvement plans should be routine. IT is expected to constantly improve service delivery while providing value, and not necessarily by way of long-term projects. In essence, you have to change the tire while the car is moving.  An assessment will provide insight to a path forward, but time is of the essence. Using a time-to-value approach will provide guidance in setting priorities on the list of improvement activities. Implementing improvements that yield some immediate benefit (time-value) demonstrates progress while the longer-term improvement plan is implemented.

These improvements to service and capabilities are visible and will boost IT’s value to the company. Easier said than done? Sure, but worth it.

This blog was contributed by Wavestone US’ Principal Consultants, Tony Ioele.

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