Business Service management and your bottom line

Proving and communicating the business value of IT services and investments is a constant challenge for CIOs, understanding and adopting Business Service Management systems can help.

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Today, business just doesn’t happen without IT. A large proportion of “business services” – business-critical activities that have a revenue-generating impact – are supported by “IT services”, the underlying IT infrastructure made up of software, hardware, processes and people.

This immediately raises a question about accountability: is the IT service provider or the business process owner ultimately accountable for the success or failure of the business process? The correct answer is “both” and for those responsible for keeping IT systems running, this creates a significant challenge.

Organisations are demanding an increasingly business-like view of the services provided by the IT department. Despite a significant investment in application and infrastructure management tools as well as service desk software, IT leadership and their line-of-business counterparts often lack effective means to align IT service delivery with business objectives.

Many organisations run silos of different kinds of technology, resulting in sprawling IT departments that are hard to manage. In addition, IT management resources are never enough, forcing IT to provide a better service while minimising cost. This makes measuring the effectiveness of IT a formidable task, and the challenge of demonstrating its value to the business considerable.

As the pressure for IT departments to demonstrate their value grows, the visibility of IT processes becomes key. Business Service Management (BSM) addresses this need with top-level comprehensive views of the health of IT systems in terms that make sense to the business.

These solutions analyse system quality, report on the service experienced by users and then provide the data to initiate improvement activities where service levels fall short of business requirements.

A vital by-product of this process is the alignment of IT services with the business processes they enable, allowing IT managers to make service decisions in the context of the business and promoting better communication between IT and the business. IT efforts are prioritised according to business impact and the time taken to repair IT-related problems can be significantly reduced.

This is done through real-time, business-oriented service views that map critical business processes to IT infrastructure. These real-time “dashboards” provide information about business status, including IT service quality, to improve the operational efficiency of critical IT-dependent business processes. The term “dashboard” is used consistently throughout the IT industry to mean a real-time information display.

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