The best-practices approaches developed by IT professionals are key to driving operational efficiencies and bottom-line profitability
Decades ago, IT professionals used their enterprising spirit and technical know-how to design workflows and systems that allowed them to do their own jobs more efficiently. These workflows have been built around serving other employees of the organization; after all, IT is a service-oriented department focused on serving the organization’s internal customers. As this esoteric world of IT Service Management (ITSM) came of age, other departments began to take notice of its underlying design and approach to serving its clients. Soon, HR, facilities, finance, and other departments began asking if ITSM best-practices solutions could be applied to their own operations and service management responsibilities.
It wasn’t long before the wizards of the tech world figured out how to seamlessly integrate ITSM principles and practices into all sorts of other applications in the modern workplace; this became known as Enterprise Service Management (ESM). Today, ESM is an intrinsic part of forward-thinking companies, with organizations across all industries realizing that ITSM best practices are crucial to drive how modern organizations strategize for long-term growth. What is it about ITSM that’s so special? Why is ESM catching on with organizations seeking to maintain their competitive edge? Let’s explore the underlying reasons that ITSM has become such a dominant force shaping ESM and defining modern corporate growth strategy:
ITSM centralizes workflows and management functions: The ITSM approach was developed specifically to replace the perpetually clunky, reactive environment in which most employees interface with their IT department. ITSM calls for an end to inbox clutter, phone calls, emails, and post-it notes, insisting that everything be replaced with a single interface for tracking tickets and IT assets and other records through their full lifecycle. With this approach, managers can better manage demand on IT resources, provide proper oversight and tracking, and get a big-picture view of the status of projects and tasks. This centralization of workflows and management functions also has immediate applicability to other departments beyond IT. ESM offers an optimal solution to anyone struggling with inefficient tracking and lack of visibility over management functions.
ITSM creates employee-centric workflows and user experiences: Because of the enormous amount of interfacing that IT departments do with their non-IT peers, ITSM puts great emphasis on developing intuitive interfaces and user-friendly features. What this means for employees is that complex, intimidating processes are simplified and streamlined, and employees can access real-time visualizations of the status of their requests and tasks. Similarly, ITSM has paved the way for the development of a variety of self-service capabilities; these are the tools that modern end users expect, and they (not coincidentally) also streamline and simplify work processes. In this way, ITSM has given employees a deeper understanding and appreciation of how the work they do fits into a larger, enterprise-wide context; these are, of course, the defining characteristics of ESM as well.
ITSM uses data and analytics to improve efficiencies: With traditional workflows designed by humans, it’s almost impossible to meaningfully achieve greater efficiencies. Speeding up and simplifying processes comes down to a game of whack-a-mole; humans aren’t all programmed the same way and are always going to be imperfect. By contrast, ITSM calls for the use of sophisticated computer algorithms to analyze real-life data and then automatically calculate the optimal path forward. In other words, ITSM emphasizes capturing and reusing data in ways that eliminate redundancies, lag times, and inconsistent decision-making—and improve record-keeping.
ITSM aligns work to strategic business objectives: One of the biggest challenges with any enterprise IT project is justifying its strategic business value to the company. That’s because most project managers simply aren’t skilled at building a business case that resonates with the C-suite. Indeed, they are so consumed with managing the day-to-day aspects of the project itself that they don’t have the mental bandwidth to map their project to business priorities. ITSM demands that projects be ranked and prioritized methodically, so the company as a whole can get maximum value out of every project and readily identify synergies and efficiencies. During this prioritization process, project managers are forced to think critically about how their project advances broader corporate goals. This process ensures that every project in the organization can be held accountable to bottom-line organizational priorities.
ITSM strengthens collaborations among disparate departments: A department’s workflows— and oversight of those workflows—have traditionally been managed through platforms and protocols unique to that department. These platforms and protocols aren’t designed to integrate and talk to one another; thus, when departments need to communicate and collaborate with one another, they’ve traditionally developed ad-hoc solutions outside their core platforms and protocols. This is not only inefficient, but it also serves as a barrier for departments to collaborate with one another. When organizations adopt the ESM approach to workflow management, every department uses the same platform, making it easy and simple to collaborate from directly within the platform. ServiceNow is a leading example of a collaboration platform that was originally built as an ITSM solution but that has morphed into an ESM solution; in essence, other departments are convinced to jump on the ESM bandwagon when they recognize that ServiceNow’s bottom line comes down to achieving dramatic, unexpected increases in productivity, growth, and efficiency across the enterprise.
As more organizations become convinced of the business value of expanding their ITSM operations to encompass ESM, cloud-based service management platforms like ServiceNow will play an increasingly important role in defining modern corporate growth strategy. And the underlying reason that ESM is resonating with the C-suite goes back to ServiceNow's roots in ITSM. With ITSM, organizations stay focused on centralizing and formalizing workflows, creating user-friendly employee experiences, relying on data and analytics to improve efficiencies, aligning work to strategic business objectives, and strengthening collaborations among disparate departments.