Deconstructing ITSM

28 May 2008

Managing what, exactly?

Filed under: BSM,ITSM — Joe Pearson @ 08:27
Tags: , , , ,

I’m talking about ITSM in this blog. But there are some alternative terms and some discussion over what is the best term.

  • BSM (Business Service Management) is the concept used by Foster-Melliar in South Africa, and promoted by BMC, CA, HP and IBM among others. The emphasis on managing for business results, automating and optimising not just handling, and avoiding an internal IT focus is important. But the term does not have wide usage yet – for example, it hasn’t arrived on Wikipedia. And it’s inextricably linked in my UK-born mind with the British School of Motoring. Plus, if I ask the question “managing what?” of this, it’s clearly the science and profession of managing BS.
    • I’ll have more to say about BSM in future posts.
  • Charles Betz mulled over this question in a post last year and came up with the term “BISM” – Business Information Services Management. That’s good: BSM with the Information (data) aspect reemphasised.
  • The IT Service Management Institute uses the term MBIT™ – Managing the Business of IT. Also good, but since they’ve trademarked it I’m not going to use it.

So why am I sticking with the term ITSM?

Firstly, ITSM has always meant to me “managing IT services for the business”. The regrettable fact that some practitioners have ignored the business angle, or found connecting IT metrics to business metrics to be a very hard job, doesn’t change the intent. Putting “business” in the name doesn’t change anything. These disciplines are not actually managing the business, are they? (Even if some commoditised business rules can be managed.)

Secondly, “ITSM” is established and recognised. For all its faults “IT” is a neutral term. “ICT” (Information and Communications Technology) or “IS” (Information Systems or Services) or – best – “IM” (Information Management) are useful terms to emphasise a broader scope and purpose, especially for departments. But Information Technology is still a correct term – information using technology, rather than paper or in people’s heads – and using it well.

But mostly, it’s because I think service is the fundamental thing that needs to be managed. You don’t have a service if you don’t consider the business users. And your service does not work (in the terms that matter to the recipients of the service) if you don’t have information, technology, communications, infrastructure, staff, controls and all the other parts working. Management of the service implies management of all the parts.

Thus, ITSM.

(So, what is a service?)

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