CIOs need to expand service management beyond IT department

CIOs believe organisations are missing an opportunity by not applying IT service management outside the IT department

A recent Vanson Bourne survey of 100 CIOs revealed that UK businesses could save £1.2bn by reinventing IT service management.

In the survey, carried out for service management company Fruition Partners, 76% of CIOs said other business areas were failing to apply service management best practices and tools already in use by IT.

The survey found that despite investments already made in IT service management, businesses are spending, on average, an additional £750,000 on technology to automate the delivery of services for other standard corporate functions, such as human resources (HR) and facilities management. Taking into account the estimated £150,000 expenditure that would be required to implement their existing technology into non-IT functions, the combined waste among large UK enterprises totals £1.52bn.

Almost every CIO who participated in the survey (98%) said other departments could benefit from extending the use of IT service management technology to other areas of service delivery.

In addition, 95% of CIOs said the way users interact with different internal service providers was inconsistent (see table below).

The survey reported that only 22% of CIOs said all business functions were using the same technology platform as the IT function for delivering automated self-service. However, a large majority of CIOs (92%) said users would like to see a more consistent service and a central place to access internal services.

Improving business efficiency

Two years ago, Computer Weekly spoke to Cern, the home of the Large Hadron Collider, about how the particle accelerator facility was applying service management best practices to facilities management. Using service management beyond the IT department offers organisations cost and efficiency savings, as well as happier internal customers.

Paul Cash, managing director of Fruition Partners UK, said: “IT departments and CIOs have been delivering technology-driven service for many years and have a service-oriented mindset as a result.

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“The consumerisation of IT means users want a consistent, user-friendly experience at work, like they get in their personal lives. There is an opportunity to achieve this by adopting best practice from IT, and creating a shift to holistic enterprise service management or ‘everything as a service’, creating a better use of resources and happier users, rather than individual departments struggling alone.”

Because of the current fragmented nature of service delivery and the lack of best practice adoption, the research revealed that a majority (78%) of organisations are not fully utilising the self-service technologies IT has invested in across other business areas that could benefit, such as HR and facilities departments.

While 91% of CIOs have implemented self-service and knowledge portals for some IT service management functions, many other business areas still use a manual approach for day-to-day processes. Indeed, 84% of CIOs think other business functions are too manual in their provision of day-to-day services.

For example, the survey found that, on average, five separate systems were needed to complete a simple process, such as provisioning a new employee with a phone, car parking space, desk and HR records. Furthermore, only 10% of businesses surveyed were able to set up a new employee using a single system.

By learning from IT and automating manual processes under a single system, such tasks could become far less onerous and time-consuming, offering organisations considerable gains in productivity. Managers in corporate environments have been known to spend at least 40% of their time on unnecessary day-to-day administrative tasks that are not core to their roles. 

The study estimated that by reducing repetitive admin tasks, a large corporation of 5,000 employees could save the equivalent of 2,000 employees or four million hours. For some organisations that will mean a reduction in employee overheads; for others it’s a huge opportunity to reinvest precious human resource in generating value for the business.

Financial rewards

By demonstrating how this could work, perhaps by showcasing how existing services are delivered via a self-service portal, CIOs could show other decision-makers the benefits of integrated, automated service delivery in action.

For instance, Cash said: “If we automated the joiners, movers and leavers process, a manager would go to a portal to add a new member of staff.” By automating this process, the company reduces the time it takes to add a new employee from days to a few minutes. “Rather than the employee’s manager firing off a series of tasks, it is fully automated.”

Cash said the challenge for business is cultural. “If someone owns the HR system, they need to understand that pushing information out is not a threat. It makes life easier and saves money. If someone in HR does not have to pick up the phone to call IT, then all the barriers are removed and the joiners process becomes easier.”

By reducing repetitive admin tasks, a large corporation of 5,000 employees could save the equivalent of 2,000 employees or four million hours

The IT department also needs to make cultural changes, according to Cash. “Make the services you deliver understandable and reachable,” he advised.

As an example, Cash said the concept of a service level agreement (SLA) does not directly relate to business requirements, pointing out that if IT offers an SLA of 99.5% availability, the business will only see the potential 0.5% downtime that could affect business processes.

Equally, he argued that when broadening service management, both the business and IT sides of an organisation need to build a taxonomy of service description that people understand: “No one needs a particular database. They need taxonomy for billing.”

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