System Management vs. Service Management
A short while ago I related a personal story about an excellent service encounter I had recently at a restaurant (see blog I posted on July 29th). At that time I asked, “Does this personal story translate to IT services??” The more I contemplate this concept the more I say…“absolutely!!” Folks, if those of you in IT support don’t readily agree, then all may be lost for us.
There is a simple way to describe what a typical IT organization does for a living. It’s been called “system management.” I think we all understand that IT manages a lot of technology that is strung together into “systems.” Part of our job is to manage those systems so they operate optimally. That means monitoring, performing regular preventive maintenance and repairing them when they malfunction. But there is more to what we do than system management.
If you ask your business peers (outside of IT) they may describe us as doing “service management.” Here’s what I mean. If you ask a non-IT business manager to describe email it might sound something like this:
“When I come to work in the morning after I boot up my PC then I click on my email icon. When -mail opens I am then able to send and receive messages to anyone I want. This is a service provided to me by IT.” So the business perceives what we do as providing services to them-not systems or technology. Interestingly, when you ask IT staff to describe e-mail, you may get very different descriptions:
The Desktop Support Manager would say that email is a software disc that we load onto everyone’s PC or laptop. A Network Administrator would call email data that travels back and forth on their network from servers to users. A Server Administrator would say email was an application that is loaded onto a group of servers.
So we in IT see the email through the eyes of however our job is related to email. In other words, through the technology or “system” that we are managing. But the business sees email as a service. This is a bit of a disconnect that we need to reconcile. If we are following goals in IT Service Management as described in ITIL, we should be striving to be integrated with the business, which is a step beyond just being aligned with the business. If we are to be integrated, we should begin to think and act more like the business than we have in the past. So let’s look beyond “systems management” and see ourselves as managing services.
Let’s take this concept a step further. If you look at the key objectives for ITIL processes, you’ll see a recurring theme. Among those objectives you will often see…”to meet or exceed the agreed upon goals of the business.”
I’ll be looking at some of the ways we may want to address “meeting or exceeding the agreed upon goals of the business” in my next blog entry. Meanwhile I welcome your comments and perspectives.
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