Many speak of how IT departments should adopt a service-oriented way of doing our work. We should define what we do in terms of “services” and find ways of collaborating across team boundaries to deliver and support those services.
But adopting this service-orientation does not always result in as deep a connection to the business and its mission as it should. Often IT organizations simply document each IT teams’ regular work tasks and define these as their services, while maintaining their old technology focus. They measure things that matter to IT, not to the business.
As IT service providers what we should aspire to is considering everything we do through the lens of how it supports the business mission. Does the work we’re doing support closing sales faster? Does the work we’re doing allow the company to produce financial reports for investors more quickly and accurately? Does the work we’re doing enable the company to bring our products to market faster? These are the kinds of questions IT should be asking. The connections to IT initiatives may be somewhat indirect, but the linkages have to be made.
This means looking at things from a holistic service perspective, not just a device or application perspective. We need to look for ways to work more effectively across team boundaries, focusing on the results delivered to the business, not just on each silo completing its own defined tasks. For example, many organizations define things like “Setup New Hire” as a service, when in actuality it is really a complex Service Request – IT operational activity that needs to be carefully managed, but does not represent a business service. A business-focused IT approach will result in services more like “Employee Productivity” and “Trade Management” that reflect a direct connection to enabling business activity.
The good news is that our own toolsets can help. ITSM tools like ServiceNow should be configured and used with collaboration, cooperation and business intelligence in mind. Current workflows for designing, deploying, managing and supporting business-facing IT services should be reviewed and then adjustments should be made to processes and ServiceNow to ensure the business-oriented view of things is supported. For example, ensuring that Incidents, Service Requests, Problems, Changes, etc. are properly associated with business services will allow tracking of total cost of ownership from a business perspective. Using Service Mapping to connect configuration items to the business services that depend on them will allow true business impact awareness and will let IT team members target their efforts on the areas of most importance to business productivity.
By designing with the business in mind, IT service providers should change how they capture information throughout their work. This will support documenting, reporting on and learning from operational activity through this business-driven lens. That can make business-driven IT an achievable goal, not just a nice dream.