Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do your business partners value the IT services you provide?

Why do so few people in the business world value their IT departments?  The answer is that the IT departments don't value their business partners, at least not in the way they want to be valued.  Business units expect IT to deliver high quality service every day, continually add value and support them in delivering end-products and services to their customers.

Throughout the relatively short period that IT has been in existence they have had a laser like focus on one thing... Project Management.  Project Management is great at delivering new products to market but does almost nothing to improve the service that IT provides to it's customers.  PM's often focus on delivering on-time and on-budget but all too often this results in a lack of quality or a redefining of the initial scope so that the original vision is often cut back until the customer cannot recognize the product or realize their original hopes for the new product.

Don't get me wrong.  Project Management is an important part of IT's function.  When done well it can buy a lot of forgiveness from your user base for other shortcomings in service delivery.  But that goodwill fades over time so it's extra important now for IT as an industry to mature and realise that they could go a long way to improving the services delivered to their business partners.

The first step would be to understand what services you provide for your customers and what services they think you provide.  Get on the same page because most IT departments don't even have the same view as their customers so it's important to synchronize the understanding and then to quantify it in a service catelogue.

Once you've quantified your services you will need to define the measure of success for those services.  Each one could be different so define what measurement makes sense for each service and measure it.  Now you know how you're performing, you can work to continually improve the service or at least maintain the service at acceptable levels.

By now you know what services your customers expect, what services you're providing and have an understanding of what improvements are needed.

If you get it right you'll have excellent relationships with your business partners, be providing world class service and have a foundation to keep your costs under control and provide added value to the business on an ongoing basis.

Ignore service management and you may have just delivered the best new product to market but will your business partners be happy forever?

For more information on measuring the value of your IT services, contact tony@tonydenford.com.

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