The role of technology in business is more important than ever before. There is new pressure on IT and financial resources to help other departments, such as Human Resources, Facilities and Customer Service, automate their business processes. In addition, tech-savvy end-users are demanding self-service for everything they do.
Traditionally, companies have utilized manual forms or purchased singularly focused, point tools designed to automate specific functions driven by separate business requirements and funding streams. Unfortunately, these Business Process Management solutions are usually disconnected from the business, require extensive customization and are too expensive to fit the budget constraints of a single organizational unit. Not to mention the burden on IT to acquire, maintain and support multiple point solutions.
The fact of the matter is that most organizational units are interested in automating similar workflow activities. For example, receiving a request from an end-user, assigning that request to a team member, obtaining approvals, tracking and reporting progress, and so forth.
At the same time, organizations are trying to cut costs and seek inventive ways to get more out of their current systems.
Responding to the Demand
How does an organization respond to the demand for business process automation solutions without breaking the bank or placing undue burden on IT resources?
A single solution that is:
- Agile enough to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s business
- Flexible enough to meet the needs of various organizational units, their processes and their users
- Secure enough to maintain confidentiality between data from varying organizational units
- Simple enough to deliver value in a short time and without customization
- Extensive enough to integrate with a variety of department specific tools
IT Service Management solutions that are based on the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) framework are a perfect match for non-IT business functions. ITIL is a set of guidelines that advises on how to run IT as a business. These are loose and generic guidelines that can easily be translated to other organizational units.
All organizational units provide some sort of service. For example, Facilities provides cleaning, office equipment and safety services. All service providers receive requests, they manage approvals, they require metrics and following a process will likely help business run smoothly. ITIL has helped IT move from constant firefighting to more careful planning, better communication and structured service delivery. Leveraging standardized best practices to help non-IT organizational units “run like a business” certainly cannot hurt.
Non-IT Business Process Uses
· Facilities Management
· Human Resources
· External Customer Support (Call Centers)
· Sales Tracking
· HIPAA Patient Management
· Project Management
Many organizations that have extended their ITSM solution to other departments started the journey with a Service Catalog. The catalog of services demonstrates that business services can be requested and automatically tracked. Presenting business services in a simple and familiar structure to users encourages them to formally submit requests.
If you are having trouble demonstrating how an ITSM solution can extend to non-IT business processes, create a sample business service catalog to start. Stock this catalog with services from various departments, such as requestable office furniture, name change requests and keyboards and mice. Demonstrate to the other organizational units the diverse functionality and intelligence that can be configured to route the requests to the proper teams based on automated workflow. For example, the process employed when there is a request for a New Hire. The new hire requires office space, furniture, telephone, and IT equipment. The fulfillment process involves the coordination of tasks across multiple groups including HR, facilities, telecommunications, and IT.
Without automation the on-boarding process will be chaos.
Just imagine the ability to request office space for a new hire within a service-catalog, automate routine maintenance checks on fire alarms and report on trends within your external customer service department, all in a process controlled environment.
Leveraging the once traditional ITSM functionality (such as ticketing, service catalogs, self-service portals, change management, approvals, knowledge management, service level agreements and workflow) for non-IT Service Management using standardized best practices makes a lot of sense operationally and financially.
- Achieve better return on IT investments – Extending a single Service Management solution across organizational units has a much lower total cost of ownership
- Justify budget spend – Allow disparate business units to share the cost of a single solution
- Improve service quality – Deliver faster response to end-users/customers through self-service, automation and knowledge sharing
- Improve internal communication – Share knowledge and connect end-to-end processes across multiple departments such as HR and Facilities
The marked similarity between IT processes and non-IT processes, from submitting a request, accepting the request, verifying the entitlement, gathering approvals, fulfilling the request and verifying the successful fulfillment with full audit trails, tracking and reporting, makes extending the right IT Service Management solution to non-IT processes a no-brainer.
Better processes, fewer manual errors and automation will lead to lower costs, employee morale improvements, and much happier customers.
In order for businesses to excel in today’s increasingly competitive environment and remain agile in the midst of constant change, organizations need to automate processes wherever possible. At the same time, IT is being pulled in a multitude of directions and assisting non-IT units with business process automation is not at the top of the priority list. Presenting a solution that consolidates all of the requirements of various organizational units, is simple to implement and extend, and makes process automation available where it did not previously exist, may cause IT leadership to move a “shared service management solution” up on that priority list.