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5 ways to overcome practical and political challenges to ESM

Lou Hunnebeck Principal Advisor, DXC Technology

People in organizations have a tendency to focus on their own work within their own specialized team or department—they operate in silos. But specialization without collaboration and coordination is unlikely to produce the kind of results your organization needs.

By adopting an enterprise service management (ESM) approach across the business, you can significantly improve results by looking at work in a holistic way—and by focusing on outcomes instead of tasks. The trick lies in overcoming the political obstacles created by those silos, and getting everyone to commit.

The service management principles described in ITIL 4 talk about the service provider and service consumer. Each person or organizational unit that's a service provider needs to understand whom they serve. When you apply this internally, ESM addresses employees as service consumers. Applied externally, ESM addresses other companies, or individual consumers, as your service consumers. 

Siloed behavior in most companies results from their being structured and organized around functional capabilities such as IT, HR, finance, legal, and so on. Typically, each department works somewhat autonomously, performing those tasks that require their specialized knowledge and skills. This may seem natural, but they’re taking a departmental focus, not a service focus.

Employees frequently have needs that cross departmental or organizational boundaries—and want their fulfillment experience with their internal service provider to mirror their external service provider experience. They want to feel that they are receiving an integrated service, not just interacting with people performing isolated tasks.

If your organization wishes to examine the needs of employees holistically, from the employees’ perspective, then ESM is the logical approach. It encourages different departments to work together across organizational boundaries, functioning as one, coordinated service provider that’s committed to its employee “consumers.” The challenge lies in overcoming the obstacles to getting there.

So how can you encourage this commitment to cross-boundary ESP? Here are five key steps.

1. Establish a shared “why”

Everyone in an organization is time-challenged, so getting people to devote their time and effort to building an ESM collaboration will require strong motivation. It’s important to find existing and emerging factors in the organization that can be served, at least in part, by pursuing ESM. Make sure your motivation is not just a general desire for theoretical “goodness,” but is specific and relevant to all teams that should participate.

2. Create a shared understanding of “what” 

Knowledge is power, so train key players in each target team on service management principles and best practices. Once armed with this knowledge, they will share a common language for defining the objectives and tactics that are best for establishing an ESM foundation in the organization.

3. Define the strategy for operationalizing

Establish a practical method for making ESM real, and be sure to take into account the circumstances specific to your organization. For example, if your IT department is already embracing IT service management principles in its work methods, the most effective approach may be to build on that base.

Your organization could start by identifying employee needs that require contributions from IT and one other department. When you’ve established collaboration between the first two departments, you can integrate others. But this is only one possible approach you might take. The strategy you establish in each case must make sense for the organization involved; a generic approach is unlikely to succeed.

4. Leverage your tools

Enterprise service management calls for enterprise-class tools. You can achieve greater efficiency and better collaboration if you share ESM tools and maximize automation. Use these tools to create coordinated, integrated workflows that enable individuals across the organization to work together quickly and efficiently. You can optimize workflows by automating any tasks that are suitable for handling in an automated fashion, freeing humans to provide the personal touch.

5. Measure, report, and celebrate your accomplishments

Based on your shared objectives, it is important to measure related accomplishments and advertise your successes. Are employees having a better work experience? Are their needs being met with less difficulty or delay? Does it require less effort to do what needs to be done? When you identify and celebrate your shared successes, you'll naturally garner support for the next accomplishment—and the next one after that.

It’s all about showing value—and respect

By committing to adopting a service mindset and applying that mindset to serving the employees who are your consumers, your teams can learn to coordinate their efforts and collaborate across traditional organizational boundaries.

By focusing on the outcomes your employees require and how to efficiently achieve them, you can improve productivity, lower internal operational costs, and create an experience that shows employees that they are valued and respected. And that is a worthwhile endeavor for everyone.

Don't miss my session, "The Practical and Political Challenges to Enterprise Service Management," at Service Management World in Orlando, Florida. The conference runs from November 11-13, 2019. 

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