Quality delivery

IT service management (ITSM) is now unquestionably a mainstream practice, and is regarded as highly effective.

That is the central message from the recent Information Age reader poll on ITSM conducted in association with one of the sector’s specialists Numara Software.

Of the 595 IT directors and managers surveyed, over 80% were practising ITSM in their organisation or were planning to do so. Just over 30% said that ITSM is ‘well established’ at their organisations.

The most popular response to the questions of drivers for ITSM was the ability to improve reporting on the IT department’s service delivery record, with 61% of those respondents that had implemented ITSM marking that answer.

The second most popular business driver for ITSM, chosen by 49% of respondents, was configuration management. In other words, IT departments are looking to the processes and technologies of ITSM to help them to keep track of changes and additions to their IT estate.

Roughly 46% of respondents highlighted compliance obligations as one of their reasons for adopting ITSM. A further question asked respondents which rules and regulations ITSM was helping them comply with. Top of the list was ITIL, the popular set of IT management guidelines that is closely associated with ITSM, with 58% of respondents identifying it as a compliance driver.

Other compliance obligations driving organisations to ITSM were data protection and privacy laws, identified by just under 50% of respondents, and ISO 20,000, the ITSM standard.

But if ITIL is a near-universal driver for ITSM adoption, some practices advocated by the guidelines are more popular than others. When asked which IT functions the recommendations of the ITIL were being applied to, 77% of respondents identified the service support function, including helpdesk and support, an area where the advantages of ITSM can be easily realised.

Coming in second – with 58% of respondents – was service delivery, where ITIL recommends such ITSM practices as establishing service-level agreements and implementing capacity management programmes.

This was followed by the more technical sections of ITIL and ITSM, infrastructure management and security management.

Tied with compliance as a driver for ITSM was the high cost of providing IT services. But IT service management has its own costs, and the survey asked respondents which techniques they use, or are keen to use, to keep those costs down.

The most popular response to this question was the implementation of tools that allow users to solve their own problems, such as self-service portals, frequently asked-question pages and knowledge bases. Just under 70% of respondents indicated interest in that approach.

The second most popular approach to cutting the cost of ITSM was closely related; the use of web-based service management technologies. These can not only reduce the infrastructure cost of supporting ITSM software, but can also be used to make that software available to end-users themselves.

ITSM in general received a positive rating from the survey’s respondents. Asked to rate the benefits of ITSM to their organisation, fewer than 20% of respondents gave a score below three out of five.

The respondents’ appraisal of the tools and technology that support their ITSM efforts, meanwhile, was essentially neutral. When asked to rate their experience of these systems, 50% gave a middling score, with the remaining 50% equally split between higher and lower ratings.

Perhaps the finding that revealed the value of ITSM most meaningfully was that business units outside of IT are taking full advantage of the IT department’s service management expertise.

When asked which non-IT functions had asked for the organisation’s ITSM capabilities to be extended to support their business processes, 41% reported that the call centre function had done so. Nearly 28% identified the sales department as an ITSM consumer, and marketing, HR and logistics all came in at around 20%.

Those figures lend significant weight to the proposal the ITSM can help IT departments to become a more effective and useful resource available to the business.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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