Use business service management software and tools for better ITSM

Learn how business service management software and tools can help better align IT with the business and improve governance and service delivery.

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As IT continues to more deeply engage with the business, business service management (BSM) software, tools and technologies are being used to facilitate success.

In this podcast, learn more about business service management software and how CIOs can use BSM tools to measure their alignment with the organization. The podcast also touches on how BSM aligns with service level management in the enterprise. Brian Barnier, BSM expert, answers the following questions during the podcast:

  • From an overall IT governance perspective, how do BSM software and tools fit into the big picture?
  • Are business service management software and tools only about measuring "speeds and feeds"?
  • How are BSM tools used with other automated management tools to get more value?
  • Why do enterprises sometimes struggle to implement and then get full value from BSM tools?
  • How do BSM tools help IT people better align service levels to actual business needs?

BIOGRAPHY: Brian Barnier is a principal at ValueBridge Advisors, an advisory firm focused on the intersection of business effectiveness, technology economics and decision making. He advises business and technology leaders, helping to improve their cost structures and get better business results from technology -- especially in this challenging economic time. Barnier also teaches, writes, researches and serves on several best practice committees.

Read the full transcript from this podcast below:

Karen Guglielmo: Hello, my name is Karen Guglielmo, the executive editor for SearchCIO.com, and I'd like to welcome you to today's expert podcast on the importance of business service management; a tool for measuring the success of IT service delivery to the business. I'd like to first welcome today's speaker, Brian Barnier.

Brian is a principal at Value Bridge Advisers, an advisory firm focused on the intersection of business effectiveness, technology economics, and decision making. He advises business and technology leaders helping improve cost structures, and risk-return balance, to get better business results from technology. Especially, in these challenging economic times when enterprises must reshape to stay ahead of competitors, and seize more opportunity during the recovery cycle. He teaches widely, writes, researches, and serves on several industry best practice committees. Welcome Brian.

Brian Barnier: Thank you Karen for having me.

Karen Guglielmo: Great, and as I mentioned earlier, we're here today to talk about business service management . A tool for measuring the success of IT service delivery to the business. I'll spend the next eight plus minutes asking Brian to answer a number of questions about today's topic. So, let's get started. From an overall governance of IT perspective, how do BSM tools fit into the big picture?

Brian Barnier: Governance in a practical way is about getting the right information to right people at the right time to make the right, or at least better decisions, with accountability. BSM software tools address two aspects of this. First, better information by consolidating IT information and making it more relevant to the business. Second, they help accountability by tying off metrics to specific business processes owned by specific people.

Karen Guglielmo: Are BSM tools only about measuring speeds and feeds? That is the details of IT service level performance metrics, or is there more?

Brian Barnier: Oh, there's much more. If an IT shop wanted to just monitor server utilization, or even transaction frequent rates, there are more basic tools that could be used. It's sad but too often enterprises buy and implement BSM tools as a consolidated monitor. For example, a shop at a very idle style operations management focus might do that, but these shops often fall in love with the speedometer type graphics and dashboards.

Now, please don't get me wrong, as a maturity step this is great, yet it's missing both the promise of BSM as a concept to help improve business return on IT. And, it gives up return on the funds you spent to buy the software tool. Let's step back a moment. Consider the areas addressed by IT governance such as the five focus areas used by Osaka; Strategic alignment, risk management, value management, performance management, and resource management. Many BSM projects get the performance of resource management focus area. Yet, think also about the other three areas and about how BSM can make a difference in those three areas.

First, good BSM implementations depend on a strong alignment mapping. The business metrics simply cannot be generated if the business process and underlying IT processes are not direct line mapped so it could help their pro-alignment. Second, in risk management, risk managers need to map process dependencies to get at the root cause. In BSM tools, you simply can't turn off and on those little green, yellow, and red indicators correctly without a good dependency analysis. Thus, good BSM implementation can provide the same dependency information needed by risk management teams, both business and IT.

Of course, you could have poor wool then you get poor information, but the implementation project can at least force an organization to confront the question. Now, third on value management, good BSM provides data to post implementation reviews. It also provides it in the business context exactly the way the business case should have been calculated in the first place. Yes, post implementation reviews are rarely conducted, but this is often due to poor data. A good, and I stress good, BSM implementation can overcome this and provide the data. In short, get out of the operational weeds. Use good IT governance discipline. As Osaka provides, put the 'B' into BSM.

Karen Guglielmo: Okay. How are BSM tools used with other automated management tools to get more value?

Brian Barnier: Well, BSM is really an aggregator and analytics tool. This means it has tool dependencies if this be more than just sort of a test pattern and tone pretty dashboard. To this, many IT shops say to me, "Oh, sure. We've got stuff to feed the BSM tools."
But, I ask back, "what stuff?" Take a moment, think through your IT staff. You have application monitors, you have application connection monitors. For example, the solar link point monitor. Do you have middle-ware monitors? Do you have database monitors? How about server and storage? Then, of course, there's networking power, that's big with green, and facilities. Now, expand the circle. Can you see your partners and their systems. Now, if there is a problem in your environment, what ability do you have to diagnose it? Now, a pre-report analysis shows that finding the root cause problem, sometimes there's more than one, consumes the most time. Faster diagnosis requires the 'knee bone is connected to the leg bone' kind of visibility. This is what you can get when it all comes together.

Karen Guglielmo: Okay. Why do enterprises sometimes struggle to implement and then get the full value from BSM tools?

Brian Barnier: Well, they often don't look at the prerequisites and there are three buckets of prerequisites for the good BSM implementations that I mentioned earlier. Those are, business, IT management, and technical dependency. They could all cause problems. On technical problems, dependencies on other tools is a biggie. Organizations discover what they lack late in the implementation. Then the team struggles with whether to go back or ask for more time. Those are both bad things to tell your management.

Second, the IT management challenge is IT shops focus only on that, sort of, idle style IT operations management down in the weeds they miss the big business value picture. And I mentioned this earlier.

Third, are the business hurdles. The difficulty is that the business mind people often don't understand their IT dependencies enough to have a meaningful discussion about IT related business metrics. Think about your typical product manager. Now, there's lots of tips to make this one easier, but for now the point is just that this is a discussion that must proceed the BSM project or the BSM team will feel the pain, and they'll get penalized. Not a good place to be.

Karen Guglielmo: Okay. And finally, how do BSM tools help IT people better align service levels to actual business needs?

Brian Barnier: Now this style is taken from your question on implementation struggles. The short answer is that if the business, IT management and technical dependencies are addressed correctly, then the tool makes a great place to bring together all that information. Not just rotten spreadsheets in some team room file cabinet whatever thing on a server. It's kind of like planting a seed and watching it grow and then bring shade. A BSM project is really low hanging fruit if you've recognized the pitfalls, in advance, addressed the prerequisites, and follow through to enjoy the shade of the benefits when the bright sun of competitive pressure the hottest. Bring it together and you'll have a great project.

Karen Guglielmo: Okay. And on that note that does conclude today's podcast. Thanks again to Brian Barnier for speaking with us today and thank you all for listening. Have a great day.

This was first published in November 2009

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