Building a Strong Enterprise Service Management (ESM) Strategy

February 23, 2021
Building a Strong Enterprise Service Management (ESM) Strategy Effective IT Asset Management During COVID-19 | Essentials for Productivity, Security, and Resilience

This is the THIRD and final blog in our series that solves the equation that has been puzzling IT professionals ever since the acronym “ESM” gained traction on the Internet: Does ITSM + EAI = ESM? Our first blog explained The Evolution of Enterprise Service Management (ESM). Our second post outlined the steps you should take for Shifting Your Corporate Culture from ITSM to ESM. Today, we will and explain the main steps (along with a few best-practices) that you should follow to build a strong Enterprise Service Management (ESM) strategy.

Service management principles have rapidly evolved beyond just IT processes, which used to be their primary focus. Unlike your IT department, Human Resources, Finance, and other departments have always offered services but were never accustomed to using frameworks or principles to manage the delivery of those services. Over the past few years—and more recently in 2020—we have seen a significant increase in the adoption of ITSM concepts and IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best-practices in other departments throughout organizations.

What can you do to successfully implement an ESM solution in your organization? Follow the eight steps listed below and keep in mind that collaboration, buy-in, and communication are key elements to achieving a successful implementation.

STEP 1 – Assess Your Organization’s Readiness for Change

Change readiness is a measure of confidence, backed by accurate data and relevant information, that employees in your organization can fluidly adapt to shifting circumstances and evolving roles. An organizational change readiness assessment is a set of tasks that you can perform to determine how prepared your company is to handle change—whether that change involves something that you are planning to do, or you just want to gauge how prepared your company is to handle unexpected events.

Change readiness is most effective when it includes feedback into your organization’s requirements for change agility, which is a measure of your company’s ability to identify and seize opportunities in the marketplace faster than its competitors. In other words, how quickly can your company transform itself by changing its employees’ beliefs, norms, and behaviors? From this perspective, change can be handled proactively (via planned initiatives) rather than reactively (via unplanned events).

When assessing your organization’s readiness for change, you should include the following three important—and interconnected—drivers: commitment, capacity, and culture. When all three of these drivers are working harmoniously together, they have the power to facilitate change. When one or more of them goes awry, change is impeded.

  • Commitment involves leadership and sponsorship that starts at the top of your organization and sends a strong, clear message down and across all the ranks. Commitment is heavily influenced by corporate culture and has the power to drive capacity.
  • Capacity refers to the processes, knowledge, experience, and resources that are applied whenever you select, implement, and attempt to sustain change in your organization.
  • Culture includes the norms, beliefs, and social behaviors that influence what organizational changes are implemented. Culture drives commitment and capacity to help create change.

One of the best ways to assess your organization’s readiness for change involves evaluating each department or team’s culture, capacity for change, knowledge gaps, positive or negative impact of previous changes, and their willingness to support the change.

STEP 2 – Set Clear Goals and Achievable Objectives for Extending Your ITSM’s Reach

Setting clear goals and attainable objectives is essential to ensuring that your planned changes are implemented successfully. A goal is a broad target that you establish to start the business planning process, while an objective is a specific milestone that you strive to reach along the way to achieving your goal. In other words:

  • Goals tell you where you want to go, while objectives tell you how to get there.
  • Goals can increase your effectiveness, while objectives support your goals and make you more efficient.
  • Goals are typically described in words, while objectives are described using numbers and specific dates.

Objectives define the strategies or implementation steps that you will apply to attain your identified goals. Unlike goals, objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based (i.e., have a defined completion date). An easy way to remember these characteristics is to think of your objectives as being SMART. Each element of the SMART framework ties together to create an objective that is carefully planned, clearly defined, and trackable.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) should also be developed and used to measure and prove how effective you are at achieving your key business objectives. KPIs set targets for your organization to aim for and help you develop the tactics needed to hit those targets.

In summary, the goal is the outcome you hope to achieve; the objective tells everyone how you are planning to achieve that goal; and the KPI is a metric that tells you (and others) how well you are doing in your work towards reaching that goal.

STEP 3 – Secure C-Level Executive Buy-In

Companies cannot grow unless IT Directors use their prowess to identify and promote the need for organizational change. Director-level employees are in a perfect position to collaborate among each other and compile valuable intelligence that crosses departmental boundaries. Directors can “see” when the organization is ready, willing, and able to accept major changes or detect early signs that some departments may pose objections. Unfortunately, there are many reasons—ranging from a fear of negative consequences to compliance with a top-down culture—why some IT Directors might not be willing to voice their ideas and become the champions for change. Here are just a few techniques that can help you overcome the challenges:

Tailor Your “Story” to Meet the Needs of Your Executive Audience

Tailoring your “story” to make it sound more appealing is just one of several tactics that IT Directors can use to “sell” their ideas to C-level executives. It is crucial that you familiarize yourself with your C-level’s unique blend of goals, values, and knowledge and allow that insight to shape your message.

Frame the Benefits of ESM

Your idea’s position on your company’s list of priorities depends heavily on how you package it. Implementing a new ESM system might seem like a “pie-in-the-sky” dream to some C-levels, until you explain how it supports one of their corporate goals—like increasing customer satisfaction. Then, suddenly, your “pie-in-the-sky” idea sounds more feasible and appealing to them. Once a C-level sees how your initiative fits into the company’s big picture, they will be more willing to devote resources to it.

Manage Emotions on Both Sides

Selling an idea that requires full-scale organization change is an interpersonal skill that often involves very high stakes and stirs up emotions on both sides. Showing passion for your ESM project, if it is appropriately expressed, can significantly improve your chances of gaining attention and triggering some action. Keep in mind, though, there is a fine line between passion and anger. If you are proposing your initiative because you are dissatisfied with the way things currently work, you will probably encounter many more roadblocks to selling your idea and your frustration will only get worse.

Involve Other People

IT Directors are usually better off bringing others into their crusades than going it alone. Building a coalition generates organizational buy-in faster and on a larger scale because more people contribute energy and resources to your cause. One person might have access to important data, for example, while another might have a better relationship with one of the C-level executives that you are trying to persuade.

Suggest Innovative Solutions

Suggesting an innovative solution to a problem is one of the most frequently used selling strategies among IT Directors. However, if they are going to speak up about something that involves organizational change, IT Directors typically begin by writing a proposal. You should include specific details like how to you are planning to enhance your ITSM portal using application integrations to create a full-featured ESM system. Also, make sure to include a cost-benefit analysis that clearly measures and explains the savings associated with implementing your idea. You might consider presenting something like this, for example:

SunView Software’s ChangeGear IT Service Manager provides a robust ITSM platform that facilitates many types of application integrations. Our HR, Finance, Accounting, Facilities, and Purchasing departments would all benefit from Enterprise Application Integrations (EAI). All interfaces would converge into a central server (running ChangeGear IT Service Manager) that processes and redistributes data flows to integrated applications. We can easily create new business rules that utilize EAI data via ChangeGear IT Service Manager and set up process automations, approvals, and notifications that cross departmental boundaries. By creating a centralized service delivery model, we can leverage the collaborative capabilities of our internal staff (not just IT) to provide a seamless user experience (UX) and reduce our annual operating cost by almost 40 percent.

STEP 4 – Develop Your ESM Objectives and Tie Them Back to Your Business Goals

When you are ready to develop your ESM objectives, make sure that your smaller ESM objectives can be directly linked to larger business goals. In other words, your ESM plan needs to enable parallel tasks that streamline business processes, reduce costs, increase revenues, and so forth. Creating a synergy between your ESM objectives and corporate goals will help you reach the finish line (implementation) faster and with a greater level of success (buy-in).

STEP 5 – Assemble the Right Team with a Clear Communication Plan

ESM requires a broad and deep connection between your IT department and other business stakeholders. Unfortunately, IT speaks a totally different language full of acronyms and “fuzzy logic,” while other departments are satisfied conversing in simple English. For many employees, fuzzy logic and acronyms fall far outside of their comfort zone, so selecting the right people to plan and execute your ESM strategy is as important as the strategy itself.

One of the biggest challenges you will encounter revolves around the difference in opinions and priorities between your IT staff, other teams, and C-level executives. You know what they say about opinions—everyone has one. The trick to solving this dilemma requires you, the IT Director, to assemble the right team. You need to find a champion for your cause—someone who is willing and able to find the common ground and lead stakeholders to that single point of convergence. The champion needs to possess more than just great management skills. To be successful, the champion needs to have in-depth knowledge and understanding of all the other departments that are involved in your ESM journey.

At one point or another, employees in various departments may get confused and misunderstand what you are trying to accomplish and the reasons behind your idea. They may need clarification about what falls under your new delivery model and what will remain in the legacy model during the transition. A clear communication plan that outlines how your team will respond to issues when they arise is important for building and maintaining a good relationship with your stakeholders.

STEP 6 – Develop a Detailed “Journey” Plan

C-level executives and IT Directors need to accept and understand the fact that ESM is a journey—not a project. ESM is as much—if not more—about organizational change as it is about implementing a technology change. It would be naive to describe ESM as implementing ITSM technology outside of your IT Department and into other business functions. Above and beyond that, ESM is ultimately about improving the customer experience and service delivery provided by those other business functions.

The ITSM journey plan is not simply about selecting the right tool or designing and automating new processes using that tool. Analysis is a large part of the work that needs to be done in order to successfully complete your ESM implementation. The bulk of the work involves integrating people, processes, services, and capabilities, so it would be wise to get your new team involved as early as possible! They need sufficient time to thoroughly understand the business context of each service domain (i.e., department) in order to assess the priorities and develop the tasks and objectives that go into the journey plan.

For most organizations, the “big bang” approach to implementing an ESM system is usually not the best approach. A better practice is to separate the implementation into several phases, with each phase bringing another department of services into your ESM system. Think about the structure of your organization. Does it make sense to start with the Finance Department and then work your way through Marketing, Sales, and Human Resources? Or maybe you should start with HR first because that department can help you gain buy-in by rolling out a company-wide training program.

STEP 7 – Implement Your “Journey” Plan Using a Phase-Based Approach

Your team pulled all the information together and created a detailed journey plan—so now what? As your organization transitions to an ESM model, your journey plan should introduce your changes gradually over time. With a phased implementation, you will be able to launch your service delivery methods in several manageable segments versus one “big bang.” Employee groups (i.e., departments) or services can be phased into your new model until your entire organization and/or chosen processes have been transitioned. The phases may be grouped by the size of each department, business unit, process, service, geographical region, or any other parameter that makes sense.

Your timeline should be flexible and allow adjustments to be made, as needed. You may decide to do a small initial launch in order to identify and resolve any issues in a controlled environment. It might make sense to implement complex processes during a later phase, which would give your team ample time to prepare a risk analysis and mitigation strategy to handle any issues that may arise. A phased approach will also allow your team to make mid-course corrections if they are needed. It is much easier to update processes and materials for a small group of employees, rather than your entire organization all at once.

Keep in mind that a phased approach also comes with known and unknown challenges. You can prepare for the known challenges by analyzing the risks and creating mitigation strategies for as many scenarios as possible. If you have a detailed journey plan and strong communication strategy, you should be able to effectively and efficiently handle the unknown challenges as well. Extending the reach of your ESM transition also extends the number of issues that come naturally with change. It is critical to have a detailed change management plan in place to minimize the stress and interruption involved with your transition. You should always be aware of the impact that this journey may have on your company’s most valuable assets—the people. This means allowing enough time between each launch for key employees recuperate and for your new processes to reach their quiescent states.

STEP 8 – Commit to Continual ESM Improvement

Continual Service Improvement (CSI) is the final stage of the ITIL lifecycle. This model can be used as a high-level guide for helping you commit to improving the services that support the business processes used in your ESM solution. The ITIL model will help you identify and eliminate sources of productivity loss and waste in your service management processes. It will also increase the likelihood that your ESM initiative will continue to be successful for many years to come.

The ITIL model lists seven questions that you need to answer, and it also prompts you when it is time to act: 1) What is the vision? 2) Where are we now? 3) Where do we want to be? 4) How do we get there? 5) Take action; 6) Did we get there? 7) How do we keep the momentum going? Return to step 1 and repeat. A variety of activities can be performed to improve your services such as measuring business process times, analyzing and reporting customer feedback, and implementing suggestions for improvements. Since business processes help define roles and responsibilities, employees across your organization will become more satisfied with their service requests. Over time, your employees’ satisfaction will spill over to your external customers, who will also notice the improvement.

Does ITSM + EAI = ESM?

Now that you have read all three parts in this series of blog articles, you should have more than enough information to convince yourself and other people throughout your organization that ITSM plus EAI most certainly does equal ESM. The only question that remains now is, “When will you begin the journey?”

Related Posts