MANAGEMENT > SERVICE MANAGEMENT
Revolutionising IT services
I once attended a Gartner
workshop during which discussed, among other issues, how “the force of
industrialisation” will drive IT provision through a utility model.
Similarly, Nicholas G. Carr, author of the now-famous book “Does IT Matter?”
(published in 2004), had made such a claim for IT services development.
The success of Six Sigma and related techniques such as Lean in
Manufacturing had triggered a strong move to incorporate similar ideas in
the service businesses, particularly, the banking industry. “The service
factory” and “IT as a service business” are concepts that thereafter emerged
based on the idea that IT services are more reliable and duplicable if
variations are reduced.
IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a customisable framework derived from
best practices developed by the UK Government, in line with this “vary less,
achieve more” principle. The latest version, ITIL version 3, covers IT
Service Management (ITSM) in greater depth and was developed with a stronger
focus on obtaining business value from IT.
Two major reasons for organisations to adopt ITIL are:
- to “industrialise” IT services within organisations
- to ensure a closer alignment between IT with business goals
Some might argue that the former should necessarily lead to the latter.
However, past experiences showed that this is not necessarily so.
“ITSM – IT transforms itself into a service”, a research undertaken by the
Aberdeen Group in August 2007, had indicated that leading firms had achieved
greater returns from ITIL adoption. The approach also focused on business
transformation that includes IT and business process alignment. An example
of the approach is to express Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in business
rather than IT terms.
How do corporations ensure that their investments in new IT processes are in
fact aligned with their business goals? After all, it is far too easy for
the technology or the process to become an end in itself. Changes in
relationship between business and IT will also result in changes in their
behaviours towards each other, and present uphill tasks to every
“Benefits Realisation”, a method by Fujitsu outlined in “The Information
Paradox” (1998 revised 2003) by Fujitsu Consultant John Thorp, has helped
reduce the difficulties in implementing changes to the relationship.
The method rests on a diagramming and cause-and-effect analytical tool
called the “Results Chain”, which focuses on the outcome of changes.
Stakeholders are able to map a diagram with initiatives that need to be
undertaken for reaching certain intermediate and final outcomes.
Although the focus is ultimately on the final outcome, it is crucial to
understand that the end-goal is achieved through a series of linked
intermediate ones. With thorough understanding of the intermediate and final
outcomes, initiatives and linkages, ITIL can enable organisations to
successfully undertake IT initiatives that eventually lead to a desired
- Harold Ainsworth is Director, Pre-sales Division, Solutions Technology
Group, Fujitsu Asia.