Today's blog is courtesy of our guest author Vaishali Gopi, an enthusiastic digital marketer and content writer at Freshservice by Freshworks. Vaishali is a frequent blogger with a keen interest in ITSM and ITIL.
Behind every successful business, there is a good team of employees, and behind every good business team is an efficient IT service team! Why is IT service important to a company? In the simplest of terms, it automates and streamlines business processes, reduces manual effort, saves time and improves profits. It is as important to a business as its infrastructure or employees are.
For this very same reason, the management of IT services is also a necessity for today’s businesses. Just as resources are managed using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, IT services within a firm are managed by a set of processes called Information Technology Service Management or ITSM.
ITSM enables the creation, implementation and management of IT services so that they align with the goals of the business. It bridges the gap between the IT team and the rest of the business. People, business processes and IT services are integrated in such a way that work progresses faster, more smoothly, and more efficiently.
Despite all these obvious benefits, there are a few fears and complaints that are raised about ITSM. Many of these are due to an insufficient understanding of ITSM, ITSM frameworks and ITSM tools. In this blog, I examine some of these complaints and the reasons why they have no standing in reality.
It is true that companies can manage to run their businesses without adopting ITIL or any other ITSM framework. They can develop their own set of unique procedures for their IT service flows. But a considerable amount of effort and time would be consumed by such an attempt which could otherwise be spent on furthering the business. ITSM best practices listed in the well-known frameworks have been developed over the years. They carry within them the lessons learnt from successes and failures during implementation across several businesses. It would be difficult for the IT service approach developed in-house to match up to these existing standards, let alone be better.
Organizations face issues when they try to implement ITSM frameworks without understanding the spirit behind ITSM best practices. These are only a set of recommendations to make processes smoother, not a rigid set of rules to be forcefully implemented. Companies that make this critical mistake end up wasting their money, time and effort. Employees would find it difficult to understand the logic behind a long and convoluted process. As a result, each would find their own way around it, creating chaos and confusion.
So ideally the first step before implementing a framework or purchasing an ITSM tool is identifying the business requirements. Based on these, processes can be adopted and modified from the ITSM frameworks based on needs. Any irrelevant or cumbersome processes can be discarded. If another ITSM framework contains processes that better suit the company in a particular area, those can be adopted instead.
Incident management or troubleshooting by raising ‘tickets’ is an important feature of ITSM practice. The IT service desk is envisioned as “the single point of contact” between the IT team and the other employees of the organization. However, some employees feel it is better to directly approach any one of the IT employees rather than go through the service desk. They may think that it brings a personal touch to interactions which would help get faster results. But such an approach should not be encouraged as it delays the system stabilization.
The ticketing system is an important feature in ITSM best practice approaches, which guarantees that all service requests and complaints are processed through a single system of record. The advantages are many. When an employee raises a ticket, the issue is automatically allotted based on the nature of the trouble to the IT team member concerned. It brings accountability and traceability. Instead of giving temporary fixes, the root cause(s) can be identified and an enterprise-wide solution can be delivered.
During the initial days after implementation, ITSM procedures may seem cumbersome for employees. However, in truth they make processes smoother and more robust. The advantages become evident over time. ITSM best practices help align IT services to the requirements of the organization. IT has evolved as a service rather than simply a technology-oriented operation. The traditional IT service procedures involved employees and IT teams fixing problems on the go. Such a reactive approach led to issues springing up in unexpected places and the IT services were always on a ‘fire-fighting’ mode. The inefficient procedures have now been replaced with the standardized approach of ITSM which brings traceability, accountability and repeatability.
Traditional IT approaches required all solutions to be developed in-house by the company’s IT team. It meant that to implement any new technology within the firm, the organization had to train and equip the resident IT team or recruit new employees who had experience in that sector. Even if there was a capable IT team within the organization, but located in a different office or zone, their expertise could not be accessed due to an emphasis on centralized operations. As a result, updates were stalled and expenses for the same sky-rocketed.
With the distributed approach ITSM best practices brought, it became possible for businesses to temporarily engage IT expertise for specific areas in which their IT team was not adept. Not only does this improve the quality of services, but it also brings down the overall expenditure.
After investing in ITSM software and implementing an effective combination of practices, some organizations think they can sit back. They expect the IT team to ensure that everything goes according to plan. But this is not the case. A successful ITSM implementation is an ongoing process supported by all the employees within the firm.
Even the best ITSM framework supported by the best ITSM tool can fail if the people do not take to the approach and continue operating in their own ways. So it is critical to understand not just the business processes, but also the employee attitudes and culture of the organization before bringing in an ITSM framework. It is not enough to give generic training to the employees and expect things to work out. Both business and IT teams should collaborate right from requirement gathering stage until the processes are stabilized post implementation.