With the strong focus that many IT organizations have given to adopting and implementing IT Service Management (ITSM) processes (in most cases using ITIL as the reference framework), much of the work that IT is currently doing is process-focused, when it should be service-focused. ITSM processes (such as Incident Management, Change Management, Service Level Management, etc.) are meant to be a way to manage and deliver better IT services, but due to a lack of vision and governance in many IT environments, processes have rather become the goal in themselves.
This situation affects both IT and the business in many ways; to give some examples: CEOs, other business managers and even CIOs do not realize the business value that the ITSM initiative is delivering beyond the operational IT levels; managers and teams in IT spend much time planning and improving processes without really knowing how much value each process represents for the business; and extensive KPIs are defined for measuring the performance of processes, when the most relevant measurements should be those based on the service, which is the means through which the customer gets the value.
Does this mean then that best practice frameworks like ITIL are not useful at all? Absolutely not! The problem is not ITIL or frameworks; the problem is the approach to implementing them (with a focus on processes instead of services as discussed above), the lack of Governance and the absence of a focus on process maturity.
IT Governance is the discipline through which the IT organization evaluates strategies to meet business and customer needs, directs all aspects of IT to the same objectives, and monitors compliance of each individual aspect of IT to the defined goals. When IT managers focus on IT Governance, they understand that IT is more than simply people, processes and technology. Through the components of IT Governance defined by COBIT (which is the most comprehensive best-practice framework for enabling IT Governance), it is possible to understand that without the right culture, or without solid policies and frameworks, or without proper and compatible organizational structures, or without the required people skills and capabilities, processes will fall short of delivering the value they are meant to. Processes, people, information, services, infrastructure, organizational structures, policies, culture, all have to be managed holistically for the IT organization to be effective in delivering value to the business—and an IT Governance approach is key for this to happen.
One of the things IT Governances is tasked with, as part of continual improvement and the monitoring and evaluating activities, is assessing process maturity. Why is this important? Because the full value chain will be as strong as the weakest link in the chain, so processes with low maturity will negatively impact the overall performance of the IT organization. Process maturity is not how complex or automated a process is, but rather how well it meets the needs of the customers.
For those IT organizations looking for a process maturity model to assist with the identification of gaps against best practices, as well as recommendations for an improvement roadmap, there’s MATURIX IT, a comprehensive maturity software that provides an easy mechanism to assess the maturity of any ITSM process, based on an international standard for process maturity. Moreover, this tool incorporates an in-house developed scale for assessing the maturity of both the people involved in the process and the tools that support its execution. This powerfully enables IT organizations to improve the overall maturity of their entire set of IT service management capabilities.
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