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Given that most industries vaulted years ahead in terms of digital adoption in 2020, the load on IT service management has increased tremendously. However,   of ITSM specialists think that they lag behind in terms of meeting stakeholder expectations regarding service levels.
In most cases, the gap between expectations and actual service levels correlates with the lack of established practices for managing standard requests, procedures, and processes throughout the ITSM lifecycle.
The first remedy most businesses consider for improving ITSM is investments in new IT service management solutions.  suggests that 90% of organizations will invest in an ITSM tool without first factoring in their maturity levels by 2022. As a result of such haste actions, most will fail to obtain the expected ROI.
A maturity model provides a comprehensive assessment of where the organization stands when it comes to service excellence maturity and the areas for improvement.
The   identifies five levels of IT service management processes maturity:
To determine your company’s position on this spectrum, you can assess your approach to ITSM using the criteria listed below.
1. Your ITSM Processes are Ad Hoc and Undocumented
At Level 1, the IT service management strategy is defined by the lack of standardization across processes and management activities.
Level 1 issues. Operations and services teams have fragmented toolkits and siloed access to data. As a result, their activities are highly uncoordinated and cannot be pinned to specific IT service management metrics as performance monitoring does not exist. Since most processes are undocumented, the ITSM team is putting down emerging fires, rather than works on ensuring continuous, smooth operations and service provisioning.
The company’s overall IT ecosystem is cluttered with a lot of “spaghetti” infrastructure and systems built but not properly maintained over the years. As a result, IT teams are often bogged with infrastructure maintenance tasks and have little time to respond to business users’ needs or consider the wider business context of their day-to-day work.
How to resolve Level 1 issues:
- Focus on redefining IT service management practices and processes. Each process needs to be aligned with the relevant business context for higher efficiency. Introduce repeatability into all the daily actions and promote the habit of acting according to the set practices.
- Create preliminary Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Work with the IT leaders to determine the optimal set of procedures for common tasks and requests. Create the necessary documentation and consider training to build up the lacking IT service management skills.
- Start building a business case for automation. Based on the defined processes and SOPs, start assessing IT service management software vendors that could provide toolkits for automation.   is a basic solution, popular with technical teams. ServiceNow is a more comprehensive, enterprise-grade platform.
Lastly, your IT service management transformation should be further backed by legacy system modernization to reduce the volumes of regular and emergency maintenance work ITSM teams need to deal with.
2. Your Processes are Repeatable but Uncoordinated
A more repeatable degree of certain ITIL processes and functions demonstrates a higher level of maturity in ITSM. When working on standard tasks, different IT people follow the same or similar procedures. However, not all of them are properly documented.
Level 2 issues. The ITSM department has a defined set of goals and adjectives. However, individual or team metrics for IT service management are not set or fully monitored. Coordination between people or different teams is low as the communication remains siloed and in-effective. Feedback is occasionally provided by stakeholders but in an ad-hoc manner. ITSM professionals still have a limited understanding of how their activity affects stakeholder outcomes.
While team members understand their role and duties, plus receive basic training when they join, most of their training is informal and doesn’t continue past the onboarding stage. As a result, there’s a high degree of reliance on personal knowledge, rather than cumulative IT service management best practices, and thus errors occur more frequently.
How to resolve Level 2 issues:
- Resolve IT isolation. On an inner level, focus on further process formalization, documentation, and automation. Commit to creating a more diverse range of resources and SOPs every individual can refer to. Set clear communication policies to promote a timely escalation of issues and increase collaboration between individuals. Start involving more business stakeholders to reduce the confusion around priorities, requirements, and overall strategic direction.
- Procedure standardization. Continue your efforts of consolidating redundant processes, adding automation, and increasing the levels of standardization across all repeatable procedures.
- Adopt tiered support/service desk. To improve service level consistency, start breaking down your ITSM center into tiers to “filter” different issues by type, priority, and complexity. Introduce automation (self-service) for Tier 0 issue resolution and map out proper escalation procedures for more complex ones. Ensure that each Tier is adequately staffed, and every specialist has sufficient accesses, knowledge, and tools for resolving their set of tasks. Consider an external IT infrastructure management service provider if you lack in-house resources.
3. Your ITIL Procedures Are in Place, but Not Followed
At the Level 3 maturity level organizations have already a set of SOPs and standardized processes, to back ITSM management. All procedures are documented and accessible. Documentation is version-numbered, and a formal change control procedure is in place. Team roles are formally defined, recognized, and assigned. Performance within each role is measured based on a set of metrics. As a result, ITSM teams operate with higher consistency and efficiency.
Regular training and sufficient resources are provided for individuals to follow the set-forth IT service management principles. Corporate knowledge, business context, and external requirements shape and enforce ITSM policies. Stakeholders provide regular feedback to the teams to act upon.
Level 3 issues. Most procedures are planned in advance and rarely pursued on an ad-hoc basis unless there’s a critical issue. Failures to follow the set procedures are an exception. However, teams’ actions are still reactive, rather than proactive. Not all repetitive activities are automated and there’s no direct mechanism in place to ensure that all individuals follow the set procedures.
How to resolve Level 3 issues:
- Address cultural resistance. Work further with individuals to encourage the adoption of the set policies. Gather feedback for improvements and promote further knowledge sharing practices to speed up the adoption of new ITIL procedures. Address issues both at the grassroots and at management levels.
- Adopt integrated IT service management solutions. To ensure consistency and higher levels of coordination of all IT management and maintenance activities, address multi-capabilities vendors that provide consolidated visibility into different functions, systems, and assets, as well as enable centralized monitoring of tasks execution.
4. You Have Set Practices and SLAs, but Not Full Automation
At this stage, you have reached a strong alignment between ITSM activities and your company’s business strategy. You have appointed process owner(s) to monitor the execution and report on targets. The IT department sets targets in line with the business strategy of your company and continuously seeks new areas for improving IT capabilities. All the procedures are well-documented and performed consistently. Processes and toolkits are integrated. Knowledge sharing and cross-functional collaboration happen effectively. All procedures are also measured and monitored for compliance.
At this point, automation is deployed for most processes, though still in a somewhat ad-hoc manner.
How to resolve Level 4 issues:
- Introduce a greater extent of automation: At this point, your company needs to focus on optimization to improve the team’s performance, reduce execution times, and improve customer services. Robotic process automation (RPA) solutions for ITSM process automation are one option to consider. ML-powered predictive infrastructure monitoring systems and intelligent ticket routing engines are another area of interest for ITSM leaders.
The End Goal: Level 5 Optimized IT Service Management
Level 5 ITSM maturity is the ultimate objective for organizations seeking to reduce their IT and business service costs and improve their quality.
At this point, the company has adopted IT service management solutions that facilitate process automation, task coordination, and monitoring across to the service lifecycle. IT teams are quick to respond to changes in the business context and requirement to re-align processes with the company’s goals. Metrics are used to assess the effectiveness of each process outcome in regard to stakeholder requirements. A feedback loop is in place to ensure further service level improvements. All the redundant or ineffective procedures are eliminated, and automation is used in every applicable use case. The IT team delivers reliable services and proactively acts on new requests.
Optimized IT service management promotes organic integration of IT into the general business structure through improving collaboration, knowledge sharing, and feedback loops.
The ITIL 4 framework sets forth a strategy for attaining a systematic approach to the delivery and management of IT services so that your company benefits from:
- Lower IT costs
- Higher service levels and standards
- Improved employee productivity and efficiency
- Higher customer satisfaction through consistency
By knowing where your company stands in terms of ITIL maturity, you can set forth respective targets and core areas for improvement. Doing so will help you formalize the optimal list of requirements for ITSM tools or platforms and right-size your technological investment.
Infopulse is an experienced ServiceNow implementation vendor, offering a range of consulting, integration, and implementation services. Contacts us to learn more about our capabilities in setting up full-scale ITSM and ITOM solutions for industry leaders.