Five things Big Blue can teach you about service management

In an ideal world, service management in the enterprise would be a lot like walking into McDonald’s: Users could approach someone standing behind a counter, order what they want, and receive it promptly with a smile. We do not, of course, live or work in an ideal world.

IBM’s recently published Driving Innovation: The Expanding Role of Service Management, an attempt to show how the right approach to IT makes the difference between keeping the lights on and actually propelling a company towards its objectives.

Here are a handful of ideas from it to get you started:

Imagine the worst: An easy way to understand service management is to think about what your company would look like if it’s not in place. IBM’s white paper uses examples such as grounded flights at an airline, traders who can’t get into their accounts and e-commerce users who find themselves blocked from their favourite retail sites. “A typical enterprise might have more than 1,000 business services running over a heterogeneous infrastructure within a multisourced management environment,” IBM warns. If this doesn’t make the business case for a service management project, what will?

Don’t put the technology before the horse: Even if everyone in the IT department is working on some aspects of service management, the results can be chaos. IBM says fragmented efforts tend to cause friction (sound familiar?) that actually drives service quality down, not up. “Define the business objectives first, so that decisions can be made based on the business perspective rather than on the personal preferences of the most persuasive proponent of the latest fad,” the white paper says.

Two great teams go great together: Think of your development and operations units the way Reese’s thought about chocolate and peanut butter. “Operations needs not only to know when new or updated software will be handed off—but it also needs to be integrated into the full development lifecycle,” IBM says. This also means bringing in the testing experts. “Infrastructure solutions, applications and services should all be fully tested in an environment that can identify potential operational problems.”

Look at your service desk as an asset, not a burden: Too many companies get caught up in creating service-oriented architectures without thinking about the business processes that will actually make a difference to employees, partners and customers. Big mistake. “Managing a service desk involves far more than mere ‘call tracking,” IBM says. “It must provide users with a reliable, single point of contact for all service requests.”

Silence is golden: One of the toughest aspects of service management is knowing whether you’re doing it right. According to IBM, well-managed IT infrastructure becomes something most users can take for granted. “When your customers ask probing questions about internal operations, you know you have a service problem,” the paper says.

For more ideas on improving service management, download the full 12-page report by clicking here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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