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Elements of Business Service Management

[Originally posted today on the IBM Tivoli ITSM Blog located here]

I’ve been involved with Business Service Management efforts for the better part of the last five years in the enterprise and service provider spaces and now as part of IBM Tivoli. One thing that continues to be a general issue in this space is that there has never been a really good working definition of what Business Service Management is. The definition that I most frequently reference is the one from Deb Curtis of Gartner which most people have seen in Gartner presentations on the topic of Business Service Management. I’ve found that it was sufficient in the early days to give the vendor community and early adopters something to rally around, but now as Business Service Management makes attempts to become more broadly adopted, we need a better working definition for what Business Service Management is.

I’m starting a series of postings that will focus on what I call “Elements of Business Service Management”. Firstly, a better working definition for what Business Service Management is. This is my definition for Business Service Management, not IBM’s, an analyst’s, etc. Take it for what it is and use it as a reference as you define what Business Service Management is for you and your company. Yes, that’s right. You need to define what Business Service Management is within your organization, how you’ll use the concepts of Business Service Management to help you and your company achieve their business goals and objectives. Use it as a catalyst to help define where you are and where you want to be in your Business Service Management journey and how Business Service Management will help more closely align IT with the Business and Business with IT.

Follow on postings within this series will be focused on helping you get there. Where? That’s what you’ll be determining – your own Business Service Management Maturity Model, Strategy and Roadmap. I’ll share my thoughts and ideas on what a Business Service Management maturity model looks like as aligned with the Gartner IT Maturity Model. Using this, you’ll be able to determine where you are today and learn about practical steps you can take towards maturity with Business Service Management in your company.

Part 1- A Better Working Definition for Business Service Management

Business Service Management is an enabling technology at the intersection of business and IT alignment. The days of IT organizations operating with only an understanding of the IT perspective are quickly passing. Business Service Management brings the business perspective and context to the IT environment. Business Service Management solutions help IT understand how their infrastructure and technology investments support the business and how business benefits from that IT infrastructure and technology.

Business Service Management is a strategy, approach and methodology for aligning IT elements to the goals of the business. Business Service Management is about communicating the right message at the right time to the right level within IT and the business in business terms or IT terms as appropriate for each audience. Business Service Management is about delivering and maintaining quality services, applications, processes, activities and transactions to the business so business goals and objectives are met – not IT’s.

Business Service Management is about understanding how IT impacts the business and how business impacts IT. It’s about the known and unknown relationships and dependencies between IT and the business. How either one may affect the other. How IT best practices, processes and activities such as change and release management may impact a business entity, transaction, process or activity.

What was done years ago by creating a “single pane of glass” for the network and systems management industry, Business Service Management creates a similar “single pane of glass” for IT infrastructure and technology and how it supports and enables the business to meet its goals and objectives (make money, control costs, etc.)

Business Service Management is the integration and consolidation of systems management with business management. It’s the creation of service and operational level agreements (SLA/SLO), underpinning contracts (UPCs), policies, rules and thresholds for business services, applications, processes, activities and transactions much the same way it’s done for a server or network device. Business Service Management is about enabling IT operations and support staff with empowering information that helps them to understand the impact on the business in business terms. Business Service Management helps IT at all levels prioritize restoration, improve communication, and establish deeper relationships with their business peers.

Business Service Management isn’t just about presenting a pretty dashboard with fancy dials, gauges, stoplights or colors. Business Service Management is the management of IT with a purpose on purpose. Business Service Management solutions, dashboards and information communicate purpose built messages tailored for each specific audience. The IT infrastructure and technology information, status, metrics, etc. are organized and grouped together with the proper context and technique so that these audiences can make important decisions or take action that enables continued business success.

Business Service Management is about understanding the business perspective also known as the “top down perspective”. What value, revenue, cost, churn, ROI, etc. can be associated with the IT services, applications, processes, transactions, etc. being delivered and supported by your IT organization? How does IT enable the business to meet their goals and objectives? What are the “hidden linkages” between business and IT performance and compensation plans and business and IT service availability, performance, etc? Business Service Management leaves no stone unturned. Business services, activities, processes, transactions, etc. are understood from the business user’s perspective, internally and externally, in their terms, their language, their performance expectations, understanding the impact on their jobs, productivity, goals and objectives, etc.

Business Service Management is an evolutionary process that takes time and energy to implement. Don’t expect to get Business Service Management out of the box or overnight. Every industry, vertical, segment, new venture, product line, service offering, etc. is unique. A vendor’s solution may get you in the ballpark, but significant work will still be required along the way towards reaching your desired maturity state. There are significant dependencies on getting your own house in order and building a strong relationship with others both in IT and the business to be successful with Business Service Management. The people and process components of Business Service Management solutions are equally, if not more, important than the technology components you’ll get from a vendor. The Business Service Management Maturity Model topics in future postings will give you an idea of how to understand where you are and where you may want to be over time.

Take the time to consider these ideas as you craft your own definition of Business Service Management. You’ll be more successful if you can remove as much grey area as possible about what Business Service Management is and why it’s important for your company. Align it with the company/CEO/CIO’s goals and objectives, what’s important to the business units you support, etc. Spend as much time as possible focusing on tangible and measurable benefits. The soft benefits will be plenty, but through hard work and relationship building you should be able to quantify measurable value and benefit from Business Service Management with your new found business peers and partners.

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