Business Service Management is the name of the game

New Zealand developer Synergy is benefitting from the BSM approach

Adoption of a business service management (BSM) philosophy has enabled software developer Synergy to become more consistent in its approach to its business and align itself to its new CEO’s vision for the company, says Alison Holt, Synergy’s acting general manager of services.

Where staff used to be proud of using its imperfect service-management guidelines to “fight big fires”, the adoption of a more carefully thought-out approach has enabled them to fight the small fires before they become big, Holt says.

She was speaking at a lunch in Sydney sponsored by BMC Software last week to discuss and promote BSM.

Business service management aims to refocus the attention of the ICT team on the consequences of its changes for the business of the company it serves. Rather than justifying a change on technical criteria such as the percentage uptime on a particular server, BSM measures its effect in business metrics such as response time to a customer problem, and the smooth planning and execution of future business developments, says BMC Australia-New Zealand country manager Mike Davies.

It changes the role of ICT in the eyes of the business from one of a cost centre demanding more infrastructure investment for uncertain benefit to that of a positive source of proactive and predictive ideas for improving business performance, he says.

At the simplest level, BSM means knowing what business needs are served by which components of the infrastructure; this sharpens diagnosis and repair of problems and points up what changes to make to the infrastructure to serve business objectives better.

It is also important for everyone in the company responsible for such developments to have a consistent approach to change, says Holt. Before BSM, the various teams in Synergy had “seven or eight flavours of ‘good change management’”. Now everyone has the same idea of what good change management is, communication between teams is enhanced and change is better managed and has better outcomes, she says.

Holt acknowledges that Synergy’s BSM direction was spurred by a certain amount of “peer-pressure” towards the adoption of ITIL, a key early stage in BSM, but it was certainly not a matter of following a fashion, she says. “We did write a clear business case for BSM. If you can’t do that for a planned change then you shouldn’t put it in.”

BSM is “not a product”, Davies emphasises; it’s a strategy put in place over some months, for which BMC can provide guidance.

BSM standards have been formalised independently of particular providers in a standards document known as ISO/IEC 200000.

Clearly the process of self-searching and change involved in adopting BSM will be a short- to medium-term cost to the organisation, and there will typically be a roller-coaster profile in attitudes to its adoption. After an initial burst of enthusiasm then impetus typically flags as the costs begin to bite, but a few months out, there is a turnaround as the benefits become evident.

So how long does it take? “In Synergy’s experience, three to six months to realise some benefits and six to 12 to realise fully the benefits described in the business plan,” Holt says.

Bell travelled to Sydney courtesy of BMC Software

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