Definition: Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is the application of IT Service Management (ITSM) principles to other areas of an organisation.
This will typically include not only using the same process principles used in ITSM, but also the same technology (software such as a Service Desk) as a means of implementation.
As a starting point to understand ESM we must first understand ITSM...
What is ITSM?
"ITSM is a process-based approach to aligning the delivery of information technology (IT) services with the needs of the organization that uses them." 
ITSM changes the way we might typically see the IT department, framing it as a service provider who is working to enable the rest of the organisation to meet both their individual and wider business goals in the most efficient way possible.
Viewing it another way, ITSM takes the operating model used by services businesses who use a combination of materials, tools and expertise to deliver a 'product' to their external clients. A practical example would be an Internet Service Provider (ISP), who utilizes their infrastructure, hardware, software and personnel to provide Internet access to your office so you can do business.
While ITSM can be approached in many ways, its core objective is to structure the design, implementation and delivery of "services" to improve the efficiency of operations, mitigate risk and facilitate strategic planning to support business needs.
The most common ITSM framework ITIL structures these ideas into the following groups:
- Service Design: The creation of a catalogue of services that will be offered to "customers", including the definition of the processes, resources, and delivery standards required to implement them.
- Service Transition: The controlled implementation of change, be it the implementation of new services or the modification of existing services, processes, infrastructure or systems.
- Service Operation: The management of day to day operations, specifically how the flow of requests are best handled to solve problems, deliver services and provide information in the most efficient way possible.
What are the benefits of Enterprise Service Management (ESM)?
When we frame the IT department as a service provider, or better yet as an enabler, it becomes clear that most business units are playing this role, either internally or externally, and the benefits of ITSM can be achieved everywhere.
So what are they....?
Internal to Business Units:
- Improved Productivity: Service Management gets a department's internal engine firing, allowing work to happen more quickly and smoothly by reducing inbox, enabling faster request processing and allowing easy tracking of tickets throughout their life-cycle.
- Eliminate Waste: By mapping and defining processes you can eliminate or automate non-value-added activities, as well as provision resources and headcount to meet needs without surplus. This can then be evolved in a "continuous improvement" methodology to add long term operational benefits.
- External User Satisfaction: External customer satisfaction increases as services are more reliable, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and the expectations of requesters and service providers are better aligned.
- Enhanced Visibility and Control: Well established reporting techniques and metrics allow a higher level of visibility and tracking to identity problem areas. Change control processes help maintain continuity of services by limiting unexpected outcomes for any given change.
- Knowledge Management: Teams are able to capture and reuse information more easily allowing them to respond to requests faster and more comprehensively, as well as share learning from their previous work.
- Internal Employee Satisfaction: ESM helps boost satisfaction of teams by defining what is expected of them, permitting an understanding of their role in a wider context and ensuring they receive the appropriate training and support to do their job.
Across Business Units:
- Alignment: ESM is a powerful tool to align all business units to directly support an organisation's vision and goals. It breaks down silos, communicates the overarching objectives in a way the is relevant to each business unit and helps to piece together each contribution to the bigger picture.
- Enhanced Collaboration: In a complex machine depending on multiple players to delivery an objective, ESM supercharges collaboration by simplifying communication (eg. eliminating lengthy email chains), defining responsibilities, keeping track of who is responsible to act next and providing a historical record for review.
- Visibility: Having a clear and complete view of Operations is critical to management, allowing you to set the right objectives, monitor progress and take critical decisions when necessary. ESM creates the foundation for the application of Business Intelligence, permitting value stream mapping, attribution and the identification of process inefficiency or bottlenecks.
- Stability: Predictability, or your ability to accurately forecast, is the critical for guiding investment and strategic decision making. ESM helps to create a steady state in operations, increasing the quality/reliability of service provision, helping to avoid errors or unexpected outcomes that might otherwise place long terms plan in jeopardy.
- Knowledge Sharing: Enabling tools such as a Knowledge Base and User Self Service creates hub for information sharing and consolidation. This ensures ALL teams can easily access and benefit from up-to-date and authoritative information regarding standard processes, helpful resources, available services or upcoming events.
- Reduced Overheads: Taking the cost benefits of these previous points into account, and then including the cost reduction achieved by removing the duplicate tool-sets, their is a clear reduction in overheads available through the implementation of ESM.
Why implement ITSM and not another Business Process Framework?
Expanding the use of ITSM (rather than another business process methodology) can be particularly attractive for several reasons:
- Proven Benefits: ITSM processes are well established, supported by comprehensive tools, and when properly implemented are proven to provide greater accountability and control, increased capacity and efficiency, and to facilitate strategic businesses planning.
- Faster ROI: Expanding the scope of an already implemented system is logistically far easier than a new implementation, both reducing cost and decreasing implementation time. Since the roll-out process has already been executed at least once (in IT), you can leverage this experience to increase adoption rates and reach ROI targets more quickly.
- Simplified Buy-In: Because the IT department already understands, uses and maintains these systems daily, buy-in from IT stakeholders is more straightforward. Likewise, you will have detailed analysis of the benefits IT has gained from ITSM processes, making it easier to create a robust business case for change.
- Latest Technology: Nobody is more demanding of software than the IT department, and this means ITSM vendors are typically evolving their offerings faster and incorporating the latest technology to provide additional benefit ahead of other niche system providers.
- Integration: Using a common tool eliminates the expense and time required for integration between various systems and tools. The benefit of this should not be underestimated. The stumbling block for many IT projects, and often the cause of costly disjointed legacy systems, is a lack of integration. This acts as a barrier to adopting new technology, prevents the development of a cohesive and overarching business view and can ultimately inhibits business growth.
How to choose the RIGHT place to start implementing ESM?
Non-core Business Units are a good place to start, in particular anybody who...
- Receives a high volume of requests with the same topic
- Delivers time sensitive requests that need tracking and management
- Acts act as a gatekeeper within processes eg. providing approvals
- Frequently provides standard reports or who field requests for information
Some typical examples of business functions and the Services they provide are:
- Human Resources (requests for leave, change to health plan, training requests, salary enquiries, on-boarding new employees)
- Purchasing (processing purchase orders, quotes, authorization for discounts and price adjustments)
- Accounting and Finance (approving expenses, sending invoices, payment transactions)
- Facilities and Building Services (repair requests, office relocations, replacement furniture)
- Legal (review and approval of documents, requests for standard contracts and forms, document certification)
- Security (access changes, on-board new employees, security checks and audits)
- Administration (requesting office supplies, printing and courier services, management of meeting rooms)
When you start to think about it, everyone is an internal service provider in some way, including people who execute your core business functions, so ESM can be implemented just about anywhere!
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