Synch Your Business and IT Department with ITSM

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In this age of global competition, many businesses are seeking better ways to use information technology to automate business processes and manage operations. One strategy implements a lean IT Service Management (ITSM) strategy that provides a customer-centered approach to managing IT processes and their supporting structures.

Similar to the lean management techniques that have become popular in manufacturing and logistics planning, it was only a matter of time before that customer-centric approach reached the IT department. Since many businesses today cannot operate on a day-to-day basis without their IT departments, it was a logical step in the right direction at a time when tough economic conditions have mandated change. For years, the IT department was isolated from the rest of the company and operated as the owners of the resources and applications that supported the company’s strategic objectives. To better manage the IT department, different methods have been developed to optimize the use and control of information systems, such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). With ITSM, an enhanced method is employed to improve support of the business and identify any changes that can benefit the company.

ITSM focuses from the viewpoint of the customer on the contribution of the IT department to the product’s value. It is process-focused and has many similarities to traditional lean management techniques that have been in use for decades. ITSM is primarily concerned with the operational architecture and less so with technology development.

The benefits of implementing an ITSM solution accrue across the enterprise. Companies employing an ITSM solution see cutting-edge process and quality management that can rapidly deliver business requirements. With ITSM, companies can proactively manage the entire IT environment, instead of reacting to user requests. Staff can focus more intently on processes and improve the flexibility of IT support across the board. Companies can expect to see large gains in the speed, security, capacity, and availability of all IT assets and applications. And, perhaps, the best benefit of all is the establishment of clear and visible measures for all IT process performances. Success rates for upgrades and other changes to IT after ITSM is implemented typically go up. Obviously, the aim of any lean management process is to reduce costs, and ITSM delivers both short- and long-term return on investment.

Most ITSM vendors employ a five-step process when designing custom solutions for clients in various industries. The first step in those processes is the assessment of current IT capabilities and the development of a road map for implementing an ITSM solution that includes timelines and cost projections. Next, the experts strive to develop a process deployment structure that addresses all policies and procedures, as well as support models and work instructions. A management control system also needs to be put in place, and some level of organizational realignment may need to occur. Continuing, the company must also assess the competencies of the current staff and consider whether outside expertise is needed. Process implementation is a critical step and must be re-evaluated and re-visited frequently. Finally, transition to the new system is executed and training and skills development for the users is delivered.

ITSM is the next logical step in companies that already employ lean manufacturing methods in other parts of the enterprise.

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