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Why ESM must evolve to automate end-to-end value streams

Doug Tedder Principal Consultant, Tedder Consulting LLC

Many people think that enterprise service management (ESM) is all about adapting the concepts of IT service management (ITSM) to other areas of the business. 

That's not quite the case, and there are two things you should be concerned about. First, many ITSM implementations are really not service management; they are at best implementations of process management or IT operations management. 

Many IT organizations missed the boat in terms of IT service management. Yes, you can apply ITSM to just IT operations, but this method does not represent a complete approach to ITSM. Other parts of the IT organization, such as application development and information security, make significant contributions to the co-creation of value and business outcomes based on the use of technology.

Which leads to my second concern. If you extend this same approach to adoption of service management concepts into the enterprise, your ESM project will fail.

ESM is an organizational capability for delivering desired outcomes and value by leveraging the resources of the entire enterprise in a holistic, integrated way.

Here's why ESM must evolve.

Popular approaches to so-called ESM

Many organizations are moving forward with what they are calling ESM. This typically involves expanding the use of the existing ITSM tool more broadly into the organization.

One approach involves establishing a central service desk for the organization—creating one point of contact for any issue or request. Organizations that take this approach may have some defined workflows, but those are often no more than a dispatcher of specific tasks to specific departments.

Many organizations expand the use of their IT self-service portals into enterprise self-service portals. This provides internal resources with a one-stop interface for requesting and receiving certain defined products, service actions, or access to resources. But in many cases the requester must know exactly what they need in order to place the right request.

Another approach is to implement specific modules, or sets of prepackaged workflows, within the ITSM tool for specific use by other departments. These modules typically use the same vernacular used within that department; for example, an HR module would refer to an "employee," while an ITSM module would refer to a "user." 

The modules would also include predefined workflows for specific activities performed within that department. This approach allows those departments to leverage the capabilities of the ITSM tool.

Where these fall short

So, what's wrong with any of that? you might be thinking.

While extending the ITSM tool solution to other departments may improve the ROI of the tool, it doesn't necessarily result in an enterprise approach to service management. In fact, it may exacerbate and further reinforce any silo mentality that may exist within the organization. 

And while data from various departments may be stored with a single ITSM tool, workflows typically don't cross departmental domains—​unless additional modules, coding, or customization is done within the tool.

Why good ESM is becoming critical

Among other things, ESM should support workflows that themselves measure enterprise value streams. A value stream is the sequence of activities required to design, produce, and deliver a good or service to a customer. (See Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation, by Karen Martin and Mike Osterling.)

Value streams already exist within every enterprise, although they may not be well-understood or documented. People within an organization may not understand their role or contribution within a value stream. Good ESM would address these issues.

Good ESM will help break down any silo mentality that exists within an organization. Frankly, organizations that are working within silos cannot react or respond quickly to changes in markets and the overall business. 

The ability for enterprises to adapt and respond quickly in the digital age is critical. Good ESM allows the organization to act holistically, rather than as a collection of parts.

Good ESM results in defined and documented enterprise workflows that in turn can be automated. Enterprise workflows that are well-designed and frictionless result in better experiences for both customers and employees.

How ITSM tools could help

ESM tools have essentially evolved as extensions of traditional IT service management software. ITSM tool vendors may see themselves as evolving into an ERP system for organization-wide workflows. 

Unfortunately, today's service management platforms typically are extended into the enterprise by “bolting on” new modules for HR or procurement or other business areas. They don't necessarily handle end-to-end, cross-functional value streams without customization. 

A true ESM system would handle these value streams and enable process automation across a business's value streams.

Is this where ITSM platforms are going? So far, I'm not seeing that. But it's where the market needs to go.

Other obstacles to ESM

But the huge lesson learned from ITSM implementations that must be applied to ESM adoption is that it takes more than just technology to have an effective service management system.

Cultural change is the most significant challenge for ESM. The departments within many organizations are more focused on meeting their internal departmental goals and less on achieving organizational goals. ESM shifts the focus from individual departmental efforts to enterprise outcomes. 

Many organizations suffer from the lack of cross-departmental views of the flow of information across the enterprise. Individual departments may know what they do, but they do not know how what they do fits in within the rest of the company.

Perhaps the most significant challenge facing ESM adoption is the lack of ownership for end-to-end outcomes. In most organizations, there is no individual, ​other than the CEO, who has enterprise-wide responsibility for outcomes. 

Typically, those reporting to a CEO have ownership of only specific enterprise outcomes. For example, the human resources department is concerned only with human resources. The finance organization is focused only on financial systems. While individually each of these outcomes is important, no one owns the value streams that flow across the organization.

Get your ESM off on the right foot

The most important aspect of ESM adoption is to make sure you put the "enterprise" into ESM. Here are some things you should do to get your ESM adoptions started correctly.

  • Invest in teaching the business about the business. Many employees are unaware of how the business operates outside of their own area or department.

  • Create customer journey maps. Once the domain of marketing departments, customer journey maps are a great way for the entire enterprise to understand how customers interact with a company. Customer journey maps follow an "outside-in" approach, looking at an organization from the customer perspective. Where are the touch points between the customer and the company? How does technology support those interactions? What company resources are involved within each of those interactions?

  • Engage in value stream mappingIf a customer journey map represents the outside-in perspective, value stream maps represent the internal, end-to-end view of the flow of information and goods from demand to delivery. How do value, information, and materials flow from customer demand to customer fulfillment? Where are the handoffs within the enterprise? How does technology support or enable those handoffs?

Just extending the use of an ITSM tool into the organization is not ESM. True ESM takes a holistic view of how an organization works together to deliver the desired outcomes and value for both the enterprise and its customers. 


ITSM tools must evolve to support ESM by supporting and automating the end-to-end workflows that underpin the value streams of an enterprise.  


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