The Role of ITSM in Engineering Business Outcomes

The Role of ITSM in Engineering Business Outcomes

In my last blog post, I discussed observability and how apiphani uses automation and predictive technologies to drive better Information Technology (IT) outcomes.

As previously discussed, apiphani uses our Luumen application management framework to curate data from a variety of sources and make it actionable. This enables us to manage performance and avoid incidents, gather predictive intelligence, and automate tasks for consistency and efficiency in delivery.

We consider Luumen key to enabling our founding thesis, which is that by providing a seasoned group of broadly skilled professionals with the right data at the right time, the client experience with managed service providers could be transformed.

One critical source of information that must be integrated with Luumen is the Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) system.

In this post, I want to dive a little deeper into how apiphani uses ITSM in its delivery, and how ITSM should be leveraged overall in supporting observability that creates a strong partnership among IT leadership, Business leadership, and Managed Service Provider (MSP) partners.

What is ITSM?

Gartner defines ITSM platforms as providing “software that offers workflow management that enables organizations to design, automate, plan, manage, report on and deliver integrated IT services and related digital experiences.

“Supported practices include request, incident, problem, change, knowledge and configuration management, and case management, as well as interfaces for non-IT business needs.”

The importance of ITSM in breaking down silos within IT organizations and governing the end-to-end management of the associated processes cannot be underestimated.

Introduced in the 1980s to manage data centers, ITSM has evolved into a more overarching framework. In terms of platform, these systems have migrated to the cloud and are typically provided as Software as a Service (SaaS).

Your ITSM Should Create Value - Not Complexity

Streamline and optimize ITSM solutions with apiphani.

 

The 4 Roles of ITSM in IT Operations

Auditability

Having managed large Managed Service Delivery teams for the last 20 years, I can attest to the importance of an ITSM system in giving leaders an at-a-glance look at what is going on at any given moment.
Properly used, the ITSM platform becomes a repository for all team activities, a diary of the highs and lows of daily operations. You can see both the challenges encountered and how they were overcome and then refine processes accordingly.

All the leading ITSM products contain dashboards for trending and analysis of IT operations, therefore supporting efforts at continuous improvement.
This only works, however, if logging work into the system is done consistently. A full-throated commitment to ticket hygiene – where request fulfillment, changes, and incidents are well documented and tracked – is key to success.
This attitude must be fully integrated into the culture and continually reinforced. When this works, both MSP and client have a single source of truth.

Service-Level Tracking

Proper consistency and detail have financial implications for all MSPs. The simple reason for this is that fees are governed by service levels around accurate and timely response to and completion of service requests and planned changes, as well as organizational effectiveness at responding to and resolving incidents.
Apiphani pulls mean-time-to-respond and mean-time-to-resolve information into Luumen to provide real-time information on Service Level attainment throughout the month, as well as to report on this attainment at the end of each month.

For this to be an accurate and efficient process operationally, it is critical to keep it simple on the ITSM side. As the ITSM platforms offer ever more complex workflows and filters, the process of computing attainment can become ever more time-consuming, subtracting from the value of the exercise.

Solving Problems Once

At apiphani, we silo by client account, not by technology. We feel this keeps our teams more familiar with the specifics of the different client environments, leading to more effective analysis and issue avoidance.
But effective analysis also requires access to a knowledge base of issues and solutions. If one account team discovers, for instance, a threading problem in a particular operating system patch level that is affecting performance, that needs to be made known to all teams.

ITSM systems, as the repository of resolution information and root cause analysis, are the source of this knowledge, and most leading platforms contain integrated Knowledge Management modules with search capabilities.

 

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Automation

Even simple self-healing exercises – for example, restarting a failed backup automatically – need to be logged into a ticket for audit purposes.

Apiphani uses Luumen to detect the error from the monitoring system feed, which then initiates a workflow within the ITSM system to handle approvals, notifications, and ticket updates.

Automation lessens the simple typographical errors that can have huge consequences on mission critical applications, allowing engineers to focus on analysis and remediation.

Modern ITSM systems play a key role in this process.

Beyond ITSM – Business Impact and Business Outcomes

Quantifying Results in Business Terms

Powerful ITSM platforms are neither inexpensive nor easy to implement. Once the platform is up with analytical tools available to manage operations and avoid incidents, the value must be communicated to the business.

It helps if the business is involved in goal-setting right from the start.

As Heather Wilkens recently wrote, “The journey towards optimizing ITSM begins with a clear alignment between IT and business objectives. Establishing a strong connection between IT initiatives and overarching business goals not only ensures relevance but also strengthens the impact of IT services on business outcomes.”

Wilkens further suggests that, whenever possible, IT should develop “business focused IT Services” that “take advantage of advanced technology.” Doing this means the business is along for the ITSM journey and understands the return on investment.

Getting Feedback from the Business

Once these metrics are calculated, they must be communicated regularly.

It is perfectly possible to produce great service level attainment around such common metrics as time to respond and time to fulfill/resolve, yet not have the business buy in on the value that was delivered.

IT leadership needs to make and reinforce the connection to business outcomes part of its everyday work.

Optimize ITSM Outcomes with Apiphani

While ITSM systems play a critical role in the day-to-day operation of any IT organization, when considered as part of an overall observability strategy, their use must tie closely to the value they provide to the business and integrate completely into an application management framework, such as Luumen.

Otherwise, IT leadership will be caught defending the ever-increasing cost and complexity of these systems.

However, when the ITSM platform is fully tied into an overall observability strategy that is made transparent via Luumen, the value becomes well understood, and a virtuous cycle builds among IT leadership, Business leadership, and MSP partners.

Ready to realize true clarity into your ITSM and understand the value it really brings to your business? Contact apiphani today.

Cynthia Borgman
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