Enterprise service management - whether in its pure form or supporting digital transformation strategies - is still one of the hottest IT service management (ITSM) or service management trends. Two-thirds of organizations have started to adopt enterprise service management according to 2021 research by AXELOS and ITSM.tools but what does it take for these organizations to be successful in “sharing ITSM capabilities with other business functions for better operations, services, experiences, and outcomes”? To help, we asked five ITSM industry authorities what they think are the three most important success factors based on their experiences with enterprise service management, good and bad.
The four key highlights are:
- Recognize that measuring success is key and must focus on outcomes, not outputs
- Appreciate that good governance is essential
- Understand what enterprise service management means to your organization
- Be prepared for business transformation - from mindsets, through behaviors, to performance measures
Services Management Educator, Coach, and Consultant
Enterprise Service Management (ESM) means different things to everyone, so it's essential to clarify what it means. ESM applies service management principles to all lines of business, not just IT services. And with the majority of business leaders believing that cross-departmental working at the enterprise level improves employee engagement and experience, ESM needs to be about transforming the organization from siloed and sequential activities to an integrated set of services.
To achieve this, trust is needed – between each of the service groups. To earn trust, collaboration and shared goals are required. To build trust (which will take time), transparency, confidence in each other, and credibility with customers are needed.
Effective enterprise service management thus requires a business transformation, changing behaviors, and often requires new organizational structures to achieve these behaviors. New success measurements, reward and recognition programs, and communications are also needed to show people the new normal.
Finally, redefining the services from a customer outcome view vs. individual outputs is needed. For example, having a space to sit (or connect to remotely) requires access rights, equipment/devices, and understanding organizational culture and business models and procedures. A holistic view from the employee perspective, not just each of the shared services, is needed. Understanding the value stream for each service is required to understand how to reorganize and prioritize the opportunities for improvement.
In my experience, the three most important factors for enterprise service management success are:
- Mindset shift
- Service management must be elevated over what many organizations are calling “ITSM”
- Success must be measured and reported in terms of outcomes, not outputs
Mindset shift. For ESM to be successful, the organization’s mindset must shift with regards to service management. Service management must become an organizational capability and competency, not just the domain of a single department or team within the organization.
The fact is that in this digital age, it’s critical that all parts of an organization recognize the interdependencies that they have on all other parts of the organization to deliver products and services. There is no part of any organization that can stand on its own.
Service management must be elevated over what many organizations are calling “ITSM”. Many organizations that have implemented ITSM only addressed the operational aspects of service management. These organizations did not address nor take a holistic view of how services are designed, developed, delivered, and supported; they only addressed IT operations or just the service desk with their ITSM implementation. Application and software development, security, quality assurance, and the other aspects of service management were (or are still being) ignored or managed in separate, siloed approaches. To simply extend what is being called “ITSM” in this manner will only exacerbate siloed thinking and siloed work across the enterprise.
Success must be measured and reported in terms of outcomes, not outputs. Too many organizations mistake activities for results, which results in frustration for both customers, users, and management. Simply routing work through an organization is not an indicator that a valuable outcome (result) has been achieved. By reporting success in terms of outcomes, each part of the organization can not only understand the results of their efforts, but also understand how what they do contributes to those outcomes.
For organizations that want to achieve these success factors, there is an effective way to address all three areas – value stream mapping. Value Stream Mapping illustrates the ‘enterprise’ nature of the work being done, identifies and visualizes the end-to-end nature of the design, development, delivery, and support of products and services, and depicts the outcomes resulting from the value stream. Successful enterprise service management will follow a value stream approach, rather than a technology- or department-centric approach.
CEO & Principal Advisor
Organizations that are successful with their enterprise service management initiatives demonstrate three key things:
1 - Those leading the ESM initiative show that their service management efforts are successful.
How: Metrics and measures—often from ITSM—that show how interruptions are down as a result of problem management, or that good change enablement has both increased the number of stable releases and reduced change-related incidents, or that proper knowledge management has reduced onboarding time, and so on. In order to convince the entire organization to adopt service management, service management’s “house must be in order.”
2 - Proper data governance is exercised.
How: Data pools exist all over organizations. Marketing and customer service have lots of data on customers, but it is often different data, and not shared. HR and IT have different pools of data from employees. In order for ESM to be of the highest value, data must be properly organized and shared among the tools used in various lines of business, either through the use of a common tool, or through APIs. Access to data must be properly managed, and data integrity must be protected.
3 - Everyone speaks the same language.
How: IT has long been criticized for “speaking IT” but HR, Finance, Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and other lines all have jargon of their own. In order for ESM to work, various parts of the business have to understand each other. A simple example is IT’s use of incident, meaning an unplanned interruption, versus HR’s use of the same term meaning something entirely different. Language can create silos, and silos can doom ESM.
Senior Consultant at
There are so many frameworks in IT and in business with many overlaps each trying to extend their realm into the other and not always successfully engaging key factors. Ones that would significantly boost a holistic view and organization-level outcome versus individual agendas. Like a mixologist making a cocktail, you need to blend what you have if you are to ensure the capability to match your specific needs. The combinations you achieve will be a mix of standards and those engendering the unique aspects of your organization.
Define your ESM Skyline
Start by asking what enterprise service management means to you! A change in our culture is a change within the people. If you want to change the shape of the skyline, we still need to come back to the changes within the people. I was asked “Is ESM a ‘thing’?” I see it as a culture and strategic concept. You enable the concept through various behaviors and actions guided by the organization’s values and principles. Of late, our humanness has become more apparent and even our boardroom people are not in the boardroom any more. To create moments that matter we have to have representatives from across the whole organization.
Empathic Science Mindset
My meaning of “ESM” is Empathic Science Mindset. If we are going to have a healthy mind we need to spend time having a healthy relationship with the interactions with those around us. Spend more time conversing. We are rediscovering our humanity across an organization.You need to understand your impact on the humanness, whether in person or through a screen. A good example is how well the initiatives on the modes of working have taken and how these can narrow your mind or widen your world. Empathy accelerates transformation.
Governance with a small ‘g’
ESM has been a good thing, it helps us see Experience Design in a different way. We need more focus on flow in how we talk about and apply the interactions between people and technology. For example, instead of thinking about Artificial Intelligence, think about how we augment, assist, accelerate and action our intelligence. Governance is not a big stick of compliance, it’s understanding the difference between our boundaries and limitations. The play space we have within those is where we innovate, create, and live. As an Aussie beachgoer, we know “you don’t poke your fingers in a rockpool!” That’s governance as guidance because you’re taught the rules, the risks, and how to manage them on a day-to-day basis.
Shape flow and governance engendered with empathic leadership. Ask yourself, are you doing things differently? Or are we doing new things? Then you’ll know if you’re on the journey to optimizing or transforming across the organization.
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My work with organizations has highlighted three “essentials” for enterprise service management success.
You need to build a transformation agenda
By this I mean that there has been work done to look at the current state, identify opportunities, start to articulate blockers and mitigators, build some feasibility, and socialise some key concepts and new ideas. In some organizations this is now manifest with the creation of a global (i.e. non IT) Enterprise Architect or strategy role.
The transformation agenda should also identify:
- Key business stakeholders for engagement – essential for buy in
- One of more key change agents to drive the transformation
- A clear taxonomy – that is not IT driven and is clarified across the organization
- The focus on collaboration, co-creation of value, and single points of contact– i.e. service desk consolidation or alignment
- Shift-left as a driver – focus on moving work to the most optimum place for the organization
An effective and user-friendly toolset and self-service portal is essential
This is not a technology project and shouldn’t ideally be driven or led by the IT organization, however the capability and design quality of the enabling technology is a showstopper for this type of project. It’s essential that the system is easy and intuitive to use and also to develop at non-technical levels. And intuitive in order to persuade people to move away from their own “comfort” tools. Automation is also a huge opportunity for efficiency, new service capabilities, and cost reduction.
Corporate governance is key
ESM can be developed organically, although ultimately this requires executive-level support, steering, and sponsorship to succeed. Good ESM governance is about ensuring that collaboration and co-creation of value happens across all teams, in order to meet overall corporate objectives. Governance is not just about control and a dull administrative and legal activity – it should be a dynamic set of clear goals and ongoing reviews to ensure that the direction set for the organization is being met - by all. Without good active governance it is almost impossible to make ESM work successfully.