The Three Doors Of ITSM Demand
IT Service Management Is Not A Closed Loop Value System
To Stay Fresh & Relevant We Must Capture & Manage New Demand
Where Have We Been:
Based on Pink’s research and consulting experience most IT Service Management (ITSM) improvement projects over the last 5 years have focused on the ITIL Service Transition and Service Operations processes. This is not surprising in many respects in that while with ITIL version 3 provided us with a full service lifecycle most organizations are still focused by necessity on improving the basics of service availability.
From the perspective of business risk this is a logical starting place since there is an intrinsic need to stabilize the current environment before an organization has the capacity and available resources to tackle the more proactive aspects of Service Strategy and Design.
However, eventually despite the challenges of economic conditions and constant changes to sourcing strategies IT service organizations need to consider and address the end-to-end lifecycle of demand & supply.
Not that we are not seeing CSI improvement activities in upstream aspects of the value system. Many organizations have current improvement initiatives targeting pre-production / development capability areas such as Project Management, Application Development, Architecture, etc.. But these are largely being run as independent improvement projects which are not linked or prioritized by an overall IT Operating Model strategy.
This end-to-end view of the full demand / supply lifecycle has been the recent focus of several of my practitioner radio episodes.
- Practitioner Radio Episode 19 - The Strategic Role of An IT Operating Model
- Practitioner Radio Episode 15 - Business Relationship Management
- Practitioner Radio Episode 12 - Demand Management
Where Do We Need To Be:
Within the larger context of the overall demand / supply value system there are major capability areas which play a critical and interdependent part in the customer value delivery story. At a high-level these capability areas can be viewed as Demand Capture, Plan, Build, Run (D,P,B,R) with a overarching goal of Continual Service Improvement.
Sound familiar? Well it should since this is the basic construct of any value generation system or supply chain and it just so happens to correspond to the ITIL Service Lifecycle of (Strategy, Design, Transition, Operations & CSI). In fact when speaking with most IT Executives about ITSM or ITIL I start the discussion at this level before I ever introduce the concept of best practice process frameworks. ITIL in this context is simply one of many useful reference frameworks which support the overall D,P,B,R lifecycle. I specifically wrote “one of many” in that ITIL does not cover everything which goes on in the full lifecycle but does a decent job of covering many of the major aspects of each stage. Other reference models cover application development, architecture, project management, security, etc..
An interesting observation is that we are pre-conditioned in many ways to not think of Demand as the first step in the value chain. For example while I referenced the “Demand and Supply Lifecycle” above this is not the typical order in which we are used to hearing these words. For most readers the term “Supply & Demand” will be more familiar. However, this sequence is not describing a value system process but rather refers to an economic model that describes how the available supply and cost of goods & services is driven by market demand.
Once you have begun to tame the twin tigers of production stability & service availability it is time to focus on new value creation. My personal recommendation is that one of the first CSI focus areas should be the front office processes that deal with capturing demand.
Demand Management has at a high level three primary tasks:
- Predict demand based on historical usage
- Influence demand based on incentives & compelling service offerings
- Receive/Capture demand for new & existing services
The third task requires the creation of clear channels and roles for understanding what our customers require and want versus telling them what we think they need. While this sounds obvious it is not in my experience common practice.
For example: If it is common practice then why is this one of the most frequently stated complaints from the business; “IT Does Not Understand Business Priorities”?
This is problematic in that understanding business demand as it relates to investment priorities and service requirements is critical for effective service management. Consider the following:
- Not understanding Demand causes IT to deliver services that do not meet business needs
- Having limited to no input from Demand into Plan is a recipe for not getting the service design specifications correct
- Not understanding the Plan or design specifications causes confusion in the identification of acceptance criteria for the build, testing and promotion to production tasks
- Having non-aligned, poorly designed, insufficiently tested and ill coordinated service elements being introduced to the Run / Production environment delivers service outcomes that are unreliable and do not meet business needs
Lean Principles: As an additional consideration to this logic tree add the Lean principle of Pull vs. Push. This principle declares that an efficient value system should only create product inventory or invest in services, which the customer asks for. (After all they are the ones paying the bills)
In essence customer demand (pull) provides the primary trigger for value creation. The opposite of a pull model is an organization, which decides based on its own best assumptions what services the customer will likely want (push).
In this context the (Pull) based value system is working on stuff the customer wants versus building it and hoping they will come (Push). Unfortunately “Build It And They Will Come” only usually works very well in the Hollywood Movie “Field Of Dreams”
The Three Doors Of Demand
With the recent release of the 2011 edition of ITIL we have seen another step forward in improvement of the demand / supply life cycle. This improvement is represented by the elevation of the Business Relationship Management process and function to Service Strategy. In my view this change places the BRM process and function at the right level to enable it to perform as the strategic channel for receiving new business requirements into Service Portfolio & Demand Management.
To take this discussion further there are in fact three primary channels or doors for receiving or capturing customer demand.
Business Relationship Management: provides the strategic and interactive aspect of receiving strategic demand and supports future state planning. It also supports Service Level Management in the definition and reporting of service level agreements.
The Service Catalog: Provides a portal for automated self service, Demand Management analytics and front ends the Request Fulfillment process in support of order provisioning.
The Service Desk: Provides the human interface for Request Fulfillment for those customers who prefer not to interact with an automated Service Catalog User Interface (UI)
These 3 doors of Demand are the customer facing channels into the (D,P,B,R) lifecycle. Their existence and relative maturity have a major impact on the customer experience, satisfaction and dependent value generation processes. They represent the front office of an IT Service Provider.
When planning an ITSM roadmap consider that improving the front office can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction providing you have already addressed the production availability issues.
Troy’s Thoughts What Are Yours?
”Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.”
First, love the Ross Perot quote. I was part of Perot Systems culture for a few years, couldn’t agree more! Next, I think often time we get caught or stuck in process or governance and loss sight of customer’s view and voice. It’s frustrating for those who provide the service and can lead business dissatisfaction with IT. Post reminded me of Ian Clayton’s ‘inside-out’ view. In past year, my current organization moved our Org into P-B-R model, and so I found this topic to be particularly relevant and helpful . Especially because one of the areas that causes the most stress for us (or at least me and my team), is managing the demands side (given limited supply of resources). Prioritizing IT service delivery remains a challenge within one line of business (where to focus resources? available skill sets? conflicts when Prod issues interrupt Development and delay deliverables, etc), let alone managing/prioritizing demand across the entire Enterprise. We are continuing to recognize the need to further mature our P-B-R model, and in particular the Demand side – thank you for what is a very timely post!!Posted by Jeff Miller on 01/20 at 10:24 AM
I am convinced that the concepts of Lean Management add a lot to the ITIL framework, including the process of demand managementPosted by judit laguardia on 06/30 at 11:41 AM