By Edward Carbutt, Executive Director at Marval Africa

Information Technology (IT) is a fundamental and essential part of any business, and often forms the backbone of its structure, processes and procedures, enabling better, faster and cheaper service delivery. It is important, therefore, that a business have sound IT Service Management (ITSM) in place. But where does a company start when embarking on the ITSM journey?

ITSM is all about the quality of IT service delivery.  IT customers and users’ value are perceived, and value is found in the quality of the services that they receive or consume. So IT businesses and departments need to ensure that they are not only providing excellent IT services, but that they continue to do so as the business matures, always striving for improvement. One of the key outcomes of ITSM is continual service improvement (CSI).

Many existing companies miss the importance of having a well-defined IT CSI strategy in place, particularly if they are not aware of the need for improvement. And this answers the initial question of where to start: it starts with awareness. Having awareness of a business’s ITSM maturity level and how it can be improved upon.

Once a business understands how mature their ITSM is, they can identify areas of improvement and can put a strategy in place accordingly.

Knowing that a business needs to improve – and the resulting strategies for improvement – needs to be driven from a board or executive level. Far too often, the need for change is identified at an operational level, but is rarely afforded the focus to act upon.

The board, however, has a holistic view of the business and therefore understands the risk of not applying the necessary changes and improvements at a business level. Measures and targets can be put in place as a way to ensure improvements are continually implemented to minimise risk.

In order to avoid stagnation and revitalize their operations, organisations need to embrace a culture of continual service improvement. This goes beyond IT and underpins every aspect of a functioning company.

Business is dynamic and the marketplace is constantly changing, and so businesses need to adapt to these changes to fulfil the shifting needs of their customers. This adaptation drives the demand of service improvement.

To assess how much service improvement is necessary, a IT service provider must ask itself the following questions:

  • What is the company’s vision, mission, goals and, more specifically, what is its business objectives? How can we align our service management strategy accordingly? Knowing this is the first step.
  • Where are we as a service provider now, and how mature are our processes? A baseline assessment is required on a regular, ongoing basis to measure this.
  • Where do we want to be? Setting measurable targets based on the vision, mission, goals and business objectives will give the service provider attainable check points on the route to its process maturity.
  • How do the we get there? Service providers need to implement service and process improvement strategies in line with the set targets.
  • Are we there yet? Measurements and metrics can be done using the targets set. It is critical, though, that the service provider understand that there is always room for improvement, so even if the company gets to their goal, new goals will always be set.
  • Once targets have been reached – how do we keep the momentum going?

CSI is a repeatable cycle, one which needs to be addressed time and time again. Service strategy, which we have touched on briefly, is the first step towards CSI which, in turn, is the first step towards ITSM process maturity in an existing business.

By using the best practice guidelines provided by Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a company can ensure they have the right processes in place to enable a smooth transition from ITSM immaturity to where they need to be.

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