IT Service Management (ITSM) is at an evolutionary stage in India

Independent consultant Sukumar Daniel who currently heads the people stream for Tesco's IT transformation project elaborates on IT Service Management (ITSM) adoption in India. Can you give us an overview on the status of IT Service Management (ITSM) in India?
Over the years, the dependence of businesses on technology has increased dramatically. Management of IT becomes more complex with rise in IT dependence. To add to this, management of technology becomes even more complex once you start outsourcing IT aspects.

IT is comparatively new (compared to other business aspects), and in a constant state of flux. The way we manage IT is still in an evolutionary stage. So the concept of aligning IT to business is very complex.

The first international standard that focused on management of IT (the ISO 20000) was released only in 2005. As a result, most people are only beginning to realize that you need to manage IT. With this development, ITSM came into picture. ITSM remains a relatively new IT management practice in India. Are there any India-specific challenges, as far as ITSM is concerned?
I feel that the problems related to IT in India are similar to those experienced across the globe. So we can't really say that India is backward or ahead, as far IT is concerned. All organizations use technology, and struggle with its management. In India, CIOs think that if they hand over technology management to large corporations, their problems will be over. This is not the right approach.

From an Indian context, I have observed that the focus is typically not on service improvement. ITSM is typically involved when it comes to determination of software for different business processes. The problem starts once you install software and don't know how to manage the solution.

The end-to-end IT deployment and management lifecycle requires maturity from our CIOs. They should understand that they don't need third parties to run their lives. CIOs should set up infrastructure to monitor and guide the organization's IT service levels.

Yet another issue is that Indian CIOs lack knowledge and awareness – mainly since CIOs don't like to learn new IT trends. They are more involved in saving costs by reducing the number of computers or signing outsourcing contracts.

Many CIOs also focus on obituaries; i.e., if my IT service is dead, then everyone goes into panic. There should be a balance of reactive and proactive management. Most CIOs get into reactive management. What are the aspects to be kept in mind while designing an ITSM strategy?
First of all, it's essential to establish transparency on how things work in the organization. So there is a process in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and ISO 20000, which is known as incident management. CIOs need to work on incident management, problem management, and change management.

Many CIOs also focus on obituaries; i.e., if my IT service is dead, then everyone goes into panic. Instead, there should be a balance of reactive and proactive management.

CIOs should start viewing IT aspects as services. In order to achieve this, they need to develop service oriented management architecture (SOMA). Look at IT from the big picture point of view and deconstruct it into different services. Look at the service, and put in place the correct solutions to properly manage the service. Can you give us some tips on effective ITSM?
It is very important to work on four ITSM areas — people, processes, tools and partnerships. To start with, you should work on people's mindsets, competency management, and delegation of responsibilities. Processes to allow multiple groups to work on the same service are the next step. On the partnerships front you deal with outsourced vendors. After that come tools, which provide transparency to the entire process.

Ironically, I find that people focus more on tools or get lost in processes. It's essential that you focus on all four areas, and maintain a balance.

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