What classic Service Management is good at – and what not April 18, 2018 – Posted in: Uncategorized – Tags: , , , ,

Classic Service Management frameworks and standards (including ITIL®, COBIT®, CMMI®, ISO/IEC 20000-1)[1] have served their purpose by waking people up to think about how they deliver their services. They all go years back and shaped what people now understand as IT Service Management or just Service Management (because services are not only IT, are they?).

What these methods share is how they take a systems approach: a very 1970’s stream of thinking that some call cybernetics and that has pervaded many disciplines, including business management and psychology. This resulted, in the case of Service Management, in a very strongly process-oriented approach: the 26 ITIL 2011 processes or 37 COBIT 5 processes are etched into the minds of the many experts in these areas. Who can go without Incident or Change Management these days? Put all these together into an interacting system, add appropriate management attention or governance and you are close to today’s “best” practice[2] of service management.

No doubt that in many service providers this works well. And no doubt that many people in those same service providers are complaining about the rigidity of the environment that has been built around those best practices. On came the Agilists that proclaimed that everything ITSM was bad and that Agile and DevOps were the only way to go – meanwhile basing themselves on concepts that were also decades old. Many organisations have since then been successful in implementing these new “best” practices in their system-oriented environments and… got lots of complaints from people hating daily stand-up meetings and Operations teams who had to struggle supporting Minimum Viable Products without getting the means to do so. First go to market, then worry about support…

VeriSM[3] is taking the first steps towards defining service management for contemporary services and is doing a lot of good things (they just don’t understand human motivation very well). Here, the focus is on how to shape service management for services using modern management practices and contemporary technologies, all within the context of the customer/consumer’s needs and the abilities and constraints of the service provider as a whole. No process reference model, but service management principles and good governance.

What I felt has been missing in all these approaches is the human aspect of the individuals in the organisation and of the organisation itself. It is after all the people who make the organisation and who are instrumental in making the service of value to the customers (until AI takes over, that is[4]).

This is why I developed the Integral Service Management Framework (ISMF[5]), which claims to look at Service Management from all possible angles: not only the processes, organisational structures, tools and varying amounts of documented information, but also (mostly) the attitude, motivation, behaviour of people and the culture of and communication within the service provider organisation. Notice that different generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials) have entirely different attitudes towards their jobs. Notice that creative jobs require intrinsic motivation for people to enjoy them, not carrot-and-stick external stimuli. Notice that service providers with different levels of organisational maturity need different ways of communicating, because they have an entirely different culture. And notice that all these differences mean that you better adapt your service management system to your particular context within all these varying parameters if you want to provide actual value to your customers.

Because it’s the customers who determine if whatever service you provide is worth purchasing. They are the ones who decide what the value is of your services (or not). It is that value that you need to pursue in your service provisioning.

Dolf van der Haven is a Service, Quality and Information Security Consultant and the author of Service Management: It’s all about the People, available on ITSM Press. The ISMF now also has its own cool website!

[1] These are all registered trademarks of commercial organisations.

[2] You do realise that “best practice” is a myth, don’t you?

[3] You guessed it: also a trademark of a commercial organisation.

[4] …and even then…

[5] …which I failed to trademark, possibly to the regret of my publisher (Note from his publisher: ‘I wish he did’).

CMMI is a registered trademark ® of Carnegie Mellon University.

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