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Next Practices in Business Service Management



The Why & What of Business Service Management
by Bill Keyworth


Discussion around Business Service Management (BSM) has been ongoing for years …and years ...and years. Yet it remains a fairly immature dialogue as vendors scope BSM to capitalize on their respective product offerings; as IT organizations struggle to articulate the desired end state; and as industry analysts deliver unique perspectives for purposes of differentiation. Fortunately, the purpose of BSM is so fundamental, so basic, and so obvious …that vendors, IT organizations, business managers, analysts and editors intuitively “get it” …dwindling the confusion that so frequently accompanies newer technology concepts. This website is dedicated to the BSM dialogue by whoever wishes to participate. There is no fee to join …no content that requires a subscription …and no censorship of reasonable ideas and questions.

IT has been, is and will continue to be hammered for being disconnected from the business needs of the customer that IT serves. Sometimes the IT organization is adequately connected to the business entity, with the value simply unrecognized. More often, IT is guilty of diversionary focus on technology silos that business doesn’t care about. BSM is the discipline that aligns the deliverables of IT to the enterprise’s business goals. That discipline comes in the forms of activities, technologies, tools, metrics, processes, best practices and people. BSM creates a laser focus on those deliverables generated by IT into something that is meaningful to the business community. If the IT deliverable is of no importance to the business function, then IT should eliminate or repackage it into a service that carries appropriate business value. BSM success is entirely dependent upon the willingness and skill of both IT and business to have an effective two way conversation …one party without the other is doomed to failure.

So what makes up the BSM discipline?

Again, it is the combination of whatever is required to align the IT organization to the needs and demands of the business.

This introduction is not intended to be a complete list of BSM components, but what about the processes and technologies associated with…

• Service Level Management (SLM) – that identifies and monitors levels of IT service contained in SLA’s? …yes, of course! SLM delivers metrics (…such as end user response time) that become the primary interface with the business customer as well as assessing the impact of change within IT regarding those commitments.

• Application Performance Management (APM) – that monitor the performance and availability of software applications? …absolutely! APM is the IT process and tools that detect, analyze, fix and report on performance issues that inhibit achievement of the business customer’s expectations of his/her business application.

• IT Asset Management (ITAM) – that identifies what IT assets are owned/leased, who is using them, where they’re located, and what they cost? …for certain! The practice of tracking, assessing and managing IT inventory has been demonstrated to deliver on the goals of lowering IT cost to business, redeploying IT resources to more critical business needs, and reducing the risk of lost/misplaced assets or software non-compliance.

• Network Management (NM) – that addresses the requirements of monitoring, operating, maintaining and provisioning networked systems? …obviously yes! How does an IT organization support business objectives if the glue (network) that enables connectivity is missing? To satisfy business demands, IT must make issues, problems and repairs that prolong network downtime invisible to business users.

• IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) – that document best practices for the myriad of processes required within an IT organization? …fundamental! How appropriate that guidelines, checklists, procedures, organizational models and tasks that increase IT’s business effectiveness are documented in a reference library that can be openly and globally shared between all types of IT shops.

• Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB) – that automatically discovers, tracks and retains the repository of information for all IT components? …without question! An authorized configuration that captures presence, status and relationships of all technology elements is fundamental to supporting the business user’s IT experience. Federating data collection within a multi-vendor IT environment is “business” essential.

• Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) – whose primary goal is to create an appropriate balance between business reward and business risk? …too often sidelined! Initially energized by passage of Sarbanes-Oxley, financial and legal implications of regulatory mandates have driven need for improved IT controls, policy distribution, content preservation, remediation, exception management and IT risk evaluation.

• Software Application Development – that delivers application software faster and easier in order to adapt to rapidly changing business conditions? …frequently overlooked! For example, IT capabilities which accelerate software development increase the business user’s satisfaction with IT response. Rapid prototyping is used to better define business requirements and design/implement the requested business application.

• Information Security – that protects information and IT systems from “unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction?” (Title 44 of US Code) …unequivocally yes! IT’s need to protect confidential business information (such as customer lists, corporate finances or product specifications) from falling into the wrong hands becomes a business essential in order to prevent lost revenue, law suits and business failure.

• IT Service Management (ITSM) – that minimally encompasses the management disciplines of problem, incident, change and service desk? …obviously yes! Frequently equated with BSM, many IT implement fairly sophisticated ITSM toolsets, only to discover they’re still disconnected from their business community’s expectations. Effective ITSM contributes to, but does not guarantee, alignment with IT customer’s business goals.

Are there more elements to BSM than these ten considerations? I would venture that the concept of BSM as a discipline to better align business with IT will only expand as time progresses. Yet, BMS is definitely not any one of these elements listed …it’s the package of whatever it takes to deliver the expected service to the business community …in a way that they can understand and appreciate that delivery. I’m thrilled to introduce BSMreview.com as the thought leadership web site for the critical and ongoing dialogue regarding Business Service Management.

































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